Hannah: The New Women’s Magazine That Celebrates Diversity

Noël Duan
·Assistant Editor
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An excerpt from upcoming magazine, Hannah. (Photo: Hannah Magazine)

When writer and editor Qimmah Saafir started working in magazine publishing, she realized that she wasn’t satisfied with the status quo of magazines for women — especially women of color. And almost a decade later, after working for publications like Marie Claire and Essence, she still found the current magazine landscape lacking in true discussion and coverage of diversity, so she’s launching her own magazine: Hannah. “I’ve had the idea for Hannah for a long time,” Saafir says. “It started as just something I’d think about doing whenever I’d close a magazine feeling disappointed. The longer I worked in the editorial world, the more I saw a need for it.”

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The editorial staff at upcoming magazine, Hannah. (Photo: Hannah Magazine)

Her new biannual print book, Hannah, plans to launch in April 2016 and aims to be a magazine beyond surface representation. “When you stare at a group photo, you look for yourself first. And as I became acutely aware of who I was, I felt more and more misrepresented and misunderstood,” Saafir wrote in her editor’s letter. Women of color have been appearing on the covers of fashion magazines and winning entertainment accolades lately: In the October 2015 issue of Vogue, Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o makes her second cover appearance — right after Beyoncé nabbed the cover of the legendary September 2015 issue, even without granting the magazine an interview. And Viola Davis won an Emmy for her leading role in How to Get Away with Murder, accepting her award with a speech about raising opportunities for black women. But being celebrated for their looks is not enough, according to Saafir — women of color should get a seat at the table, too. “I’ve long had a desire to help fill this void. […] Where all of the content isn’t about our hair or complexions or exerting endless energy into defending ourselves against what or who others say we are,” she wrote.

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An excerpt from upcoming magazine, Hannah. (Photo: Hannah Magazine)

The magazine aims to show that black women aren’t just at the forefront of sports, fashion, or entertainment — they’re also top scientists, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs. On the website, there is a sample of articles that exemplify what Hannah will be about: A profile on sustainable design entrepreneur Celia L. Smith, a look at the medicine cabinet of Bergdorf Goodman Social Media Beauty Director Felicia Walker Benson, detailed advice on pleasuring yourself from clinical sexologist Nikki Morgan, a tribute to D’Angelo as the modern day Marvin Gaye, and an interview with actress Rosario Dawson about using fashion for social change. Black men and women are the contributors, experts, models, subjects, writers, and editors behind Hannah — which is more than most mainstream publications can say for themselves. “I plan to dig up some of the problematic definitions of beauty especially as it relates to us,” Saarfir adds.

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An interview with Rosario Dawson in upcoming magazine, Hannah. (Photo: Hannah Magazine)

She explains that Hannah is not meant to usurp the readership of other magazines. “It’s about offering another take on things like beauty or fashion for someone who might not find themselves or what they are looking for in other publications,” she says. “It’s just another voice. It speaks to a different reader.” Hannah is currently running a Kickstarter campaign, and has already reached its $30,000 goal making it possible for Saafir to stay true to her ideals. “I’m not looking into advertising at the moment,” Saafir tells Yahoo Beauty. “I’m trying my best to maintain the purity of what Hannah is. I have no desire to have this driven by advertising dollars.”

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