How did Ramona begin? Why was this project something you wanted to create?
Ramona began when I was a little girl reading an amazing magazine called New Moon. New Moon is a feminist magazine for little girls aged 6-12 and I absolutely LOVED it. When I became a teenager, I discovered there wasn't anything equivalent to New Moon for older readers. This is where my idea began and obviously I didn't act on it for another 10 years or so! When I finally decided I wanted to start something, I contacted a group of women who I thought might be keen to join me. Sophie was one of the women who was interested and from there we worked together to create what Ramona is today! The project was important to both of us because we both had difficulties in some way or another during our teen years. We wanted to create a space where girls felt safe, worthy, respected and could share their stories.
Did you find any challenges in the beginning of this process?
Definitely. There’s a lot of work and a lot of trial and error. We’re still working like this. We have only been going for two and a half years so we are learning something new every day.
What excites you most about your own wonderful project? What are you most proud of?
I am excited for what the future holds. We have so many ideas that we would like to bring to fruition at some stage! The thing I am most proud of is how many teenage girls really love what we do. We get emails from all over the world and it really makes all the time worth it.
How did Ramona Magazine For Girls evolve from Tigress – do they differ in any way?
We decided we wanted our magazine to be named after a girl instead of an animal. We wanted girls to be able to feel connected to the name. Ramona is more human and more approachable to us than Tigress ever was. We all feel like Ramona sometimes. Brave, strong, flawed, messy, anxious, excited. We are all such multifaceted humans, and we wanted a name that fit that.
Who are your feminist inspirations?
My mum! She was my first feminist hero. I adore Anne Frank, Clementine Ford, and every one of my friends.
If you could pick three people to work with on Ramona, who would it be and why? It can be anybody alive in the world!
Emma Watson because I've loved her since Hermione and her feminist work now is beautiful, kind and gentle – something which I can relate to as an introvert!
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (can they count as one person?) because they are hilarious and intelligent. They call out the sexism we've all experienced, but haven't always noticed or thought to talk about, like always being expected to smile at men.
Malala Yousafzai because she is fierce, clever and about as badass as they come.
Often, men can behave with the most basic level of respect and they’re showered with praise. Women, on the other hand, have to be World’s Best Human Being 110% of the time to even be considered a decent person. How has this expectation affected you or the development of Ramona?
This is so true! When I was studying music, I was often completely ignored by the boys or teachers (all men) or made to feel like I was musically inferior. I felt like I had to be absolutely phenomenal for anyone to pay attention. In regards to Ramona, since we work mostly with women, we haven't felt this pressure as much because everyone we work with is super kind. But I feel like we can be too hard on ourselves because of this. We often have restless nights worrying about every little thing. "Did we do enough?", "Did we upset that person?", "Are we good enough?". I feel like this kind of thing very quickly becomes internalised. We are expected to be beyond perfect, so we start placing these expectations on ourselves.
Some people think we’re building a “fuck-you-men” clubhouse with Ramona and Girls Will Be Girls – is there anything you would like to say to that?
That's totally what we're doing! The secret is out! Honestly, I feel like those people don't really deserve a proper response. How many hours have we all wasted trying to appease men? Enough is enough.
Is there anything you wish you could tell your 12-year-old self?
Being 'cool' is boring. And trust me, you may not be cool at high school, but the awesome stuff that comes afterwards is worth the wait. Stick to your guns, keep creating, try not to worry so much because everything so far has worked out, even if it has hurt along the way.
Can we please be honorary members of the Ramona Collective?
All photos by Tara Milenkovic. Tara is a Melbourne-based artist currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Art, majoring in Photography at RMIT University.
Tara's multi-disciplinary visual art practice explores various ideas, mainly focusing on abstraction and deconstruction of the ordinary, by utilising movement, light, colour and reflection.
Her inspiration comes from her love of challenging ideas of perception and ideals of beauty, telling a new story of the world through her own individual experience.
Her additional work can be found here.