Another Print Publication Bites the Dust
The night SouthComm announced that they were pulling the plug on HER Nashville, a few of us held an informal wake—at an Irish pub, of course. At one point in the evening, a friend of mine leaned across the table and whispered in a a low, confidential tone: “You killed another magazine.”
Am I cursed? Indeed, there’s a running joke among my close friends that whenever I start writing/producing regularly for a magazine or a public radio program, the publication/show quickly ceases to exist, the company changes hands, or the editor gets canned. It happened to Weekend America and Private Air, Hemispheres and, now, HER Nashville.
Clearly, I must be the cause! The fact that print media are struggling worldwide, that lots of public radio programs depend on fickle funding sources, and that media outlets shuffle people through jobs at a breakneck pace can’t possibly have anything to do with it. It must be a hex.
Whether HER Nashville‘s demise is the result of supernatural or market forces, I do know this: Nashville’s the poorer for its loss. Sure, there was Frothy & Gossipy Silliness in those pages—and make no mistake, the aforementioned FGS was the most popular section month after month. But founding editor Ashley Haugen and editor Abby White, who’s been at the helm for the past year and a half, found creative ways to weave meaty issue pieces and edgy personal essays amongst the girly froth.
Despite what editors of the major NYC fashion glossies may think, most women I know are not chiefly concerned with expensive shoe collections, seven ways to make a man weep in ecstasy, or twelve minutes a day to flat abs. Although my women friends do enjoy yoga, sex, and occasionally, wearing a fantastic pair of stilettos, their interests and reading tend to be a bit more far-reaching, which is why I’m not sure who, exactly, those women’s magazines are for.
The reason I so enjoyed reading and writing for HER Nashville is that it strove to address a wider range of female fascinations than clothes, sex, dieting, and exercise—really just four views of the same topic: female beauty. It’s a topic that will always lurk menacingly in the minds of American women—because we live in a society obsessed with women’s sexuality, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid the constant assessment and valuation, the lifelong and ever-changing experience of being rewarded, harassed, or diregarded because of our appearance.
But my favorite HER stories (to read and to write) usually did one of two things: they spoke of female sexuality and beauty in complex and interesting ways, or they chose to give beauty the finger entirely and tackle other aspects of the richness of female lives—YES, there are many of these!—such as bonding with an adopted daughter, illness, stepmotherhood, what ambitious women must face in the world, and being gay in a Southern city.
Here are a few stories from the HER archives, courtesy of editor Abby White, whom I asked to share a few of her favorites: (Yes, some of these are mine. Perchance Abby is working an angle of some kind? If so, it’s succeeding.)
Last Goodbye: One Daughter’s Tale of Love, Loss and Forgiveness -Elizabeth Ulrich
Oh, the Drama -Amanda O’Brien
Home for Christmas -Elizabeth Ulrich
Halcyon Days -Kim Green
Pioneering Ladies of Music Row -Elizabeth Ulrich
Pink-Ribbon Pushback -Kim Green
Cambodian Connection -Kim Green
Burger Up! Local Restaurant Becomes 12S Staple -Kristin Russell
Small Steps, and Great Leaps Forward -Kim Green
Everyone Will Be Famous for 15 Minutes -styled by Connie Cathcart-Richardson
Bohemian Rhapsody -photos by Wee Seing Ng
“And this just made me laugh.” -Abby White
Love Lessons…From My Single Mother -Amy Everhart
Score? -Amy Everhart
Farewell, HER Nashville! And thank you for rejecting the “stilettos, sex and flat abs” print-publication model. I guess we’ll have to find some other place to tell our quirky-but-real stories of backyard farming, odd friendships with Buddhist monks, and TV programs about hoarding. Any takers?