Your guide to… Lyra magazine #2: self-love and vanity

by Grace Wang in December 2016
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Back for a second issue, Lyra magazine sees the world through a refreshing, inquisitive feminist lens. Tackling tricky subjects like self-importance (vice, virtue, or a bit of both?), its ‘self-love and vanity’ issue dissects everything from the selfie stick to egotism in our current political sphere. We asked Lyra’s Mareike Müller, Izabela Anna and Georgina Gray to gives us their guide to the highlights of the issue.

1. The phenomenon of self-marriage


Self-marriage is as radical an idea as it is a funny one. We were first intrigued by its quirkiness but then realised that there seems to be a deep desire to manifest one’s own engagement with the loyalty to oneself. Even though most readers will probably not decide to marry themselves after reading the article, it makes one think about the role of marriage in today’s Western culture, and question why it is still such a widely-embraced tradition. We should always be reminded to challenge or question the ‘obvious’ or the ‘expected’ — this helps us to keep an open mind and to decide how we see ourselves in a societal context. Holly Dawson invites us to do so without being patronising.

2. An interview with psychotherapist Susie Orbach on self-love


I’m not sure who would be more appropriate to speak to (in the UK) when it comes to self-love and body image. Susie Orbach has an incredibly interesting angle on things. In her role as a psychotherapist she has advised people like Princess Diana, but there is also a sharp economist in her. She argues that some of our emotional concerns are actually political and economic problems, not personal ones.

In my opinion this is the one piece in the magazine that probably everyone can identify with, regardless of gender, sexuality or age. Although she speaks intellectually, her thoughts are really tangible, ‘down to earth’ and refreshing.

3. Arianna Lago’s subtly indicative photography


Arianna trained to be a sound composer initially, and you can see this certain sense of composition in her images. Photography is, of course, always about composition, but there’s something about her use of colours that’s very intuitive and intriguing. Arianna finds pure beauty in everyday observations, and shows it so effortlessly and directly at the same time.

4. Egotism and vanity in current political figures


Sadly, most of our political coverage today surrounds Theresa May’s shoes, Corbyn’s rock star image and Trump’s over-fetishised hair. Lydia Morrish’s piece makes a point: politics are essentially celebrity culture, it’s like parliamentary gossip.

Self-love and vanity are often seen as personal issues, primarily related to the individual. This article shows perfectly why these ideas matter on a global level, discussing which political, economic, and security issues arise when vanity takes over. Lydia is a young London-based journalist and editor with a focus on gender politics and sex. We’ve already worked with her on the first issue so it’s nice to show her work again.

5. Just Me and Allah


Samra Habib is a queer Muslim journalist and founder of ‘Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Photo Project’. It is important to us to show that stereotypes are just, well, stereotypes. How do you imagine a queer muslim? There is no one single image or story. Samra Habib’s project shows exactly that — it’s incredibly sincere and intriguing! 

In my view, this article stands for the core ideas that Lyra is about: We don’t want to fall into the ‘white feminism’ trap. Lyra is inclusive first and foremost, rather than purely feminist. Also, Lyra is about global voices and the international understanding of political developments, in which religion plays an increasingly important role after some decades of ‘neglect’, at least in Europe. And it is about the personal story behind the bigger political picture.

6. An abortion protest in Poland, and why it’s more important than you might think


In her latest book, French philosopher and feminist Elisabeth Badinter points out that we should not take women’s rights for granted. She argues that, in light of the current political and economic trends, the rights that women of previous generations have been fighting for might be taken away from us again.

Despite the fact that most countries in the EU have passed legislation authorising abortion, the laws remain capable of different interpretations. The two bastions of Catholicism in Europe, Poland and Ireland are in the group of ‘restrictive’ states. As we were working on the issue, the Black Monday March took place in Poland on 3 October — Polish women went on strike against an abortion ban.

We approached Dr Basia Sliwinska, who is of Polish origin, to write this article. She is an art historian who focuses on contemporary women’s art, and issues of the body, gender and identity. Prior to this we attended the launch for her book The Female Body in the Looking-Glass: Contemporary Art, Aesthetics and Genderland. She loved Lyra and immediately agreed to contribute and highlight this very pressing issue. Through Basia’s personal contact we also got access to one of the best Polish photographers, Tomasz Skowronek, who took part in the march and captured very powerful images that we were able to include with the magazine.

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