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Circulation: 100,000
Date of Birth: 2006
Frequency: Quarterly
Price: $3.99
Natural Habitat: Brooklyn, New York

By Mengly Taing

The women’s section of the newsstand often reflects the high school pecking order. In the front, you have the popular girls everyone knows and envies. And in the back, you have the lone rabblerouser who always says what’s on her mind. Too smart for her own good, she’s the girl you met in detention who uses SAT words to talk about Louis Pasteur and Louis Vuitton in casual conversation. Missbehave is not the most popular women’s magazine, but she is smart and funny—and she is daring. Every now and then, a young woman searching for something different at the newsstand looks in far enough to find her.

In the hyperserious world of today’s fashion magazines, Missbehave is a renegade, reaching out to a female population that has often been overlooked: the street-savvy women who, for years, had to settle for reading urban lifestyle magazines for men. Missbehave is the fashion magazine that isn’t afraid to make a scene, to gamble with an unknown talent on her cover, or to brandish her colorful tattoos and fat-laced sneakers. After all, she’s a fashion rebel. Yet even as Missbehave redefines notions of femininity and inspires a new generation of hell-raisers, her problem is not that she misbehaves, but rather that she, like many of her readers, is often misunderstood.

The founders, editor Samantha Moeller, editor in chief Mary H.K. Choi, photo editor Brooke Nipar and creative director Sally Thurer met while working at Mass Appeal, Missbehave’s male counterpart founded by Moeller’s husband 10 years prior to Missbehave’s launch. During the fall of 2005, they decided they would give up larger salaries, sleep and a piece of their sanity to produce something they believed was necessary for young women living in the current celebrity-obsessed, image-conscious climate. With their social network of downtown New York friends, a dedicated team of interns and a shoestring budget, they began spreading their motto “Le freak, c’est chic” to the masses.

Missbehave is not for the meek. She is probably the only magazine in the world that will include reviews of Judy Blume’s Tiger Eyes and the CIA World Factbook on the same page. She disapproves of shady governments and sweatshop labor, and she profiles authors and songwriters such as M.I.A., who raps about immigration and the third world in her songs. Nor is Missbehave for the prude. Her audacious headlines such as “Trap a Boyfriend in 4 Easy Moves: 100% Pregnancy Free” and “How to Get a Hot Stripper Body Fast!” have not always fared well with her critics, who have accused her of being misogynistic and antifeminist. Although Missbehave does not call herself a feminist, she is pro-female and supports women who trust their instincts and speak their minds. This includes the recording artist Kelis, a regular contributor who mouths off in every issue about a range of topics, including the pressure, endured by many successful women, to rush in to marriage and motherhood.

Though her message often gets tangled in sarcasm and ostentatious slang, Missbehave is telling young women that they have choices in their relationships and in what they do to their bodies and their lives. Missbehave isn’t perfect, but neither are her readers. She is the first to admit she has tried and failed at dieting and she is also the first to tell you that “blow is a disgusting habit.” Unlike her peers, she speaks to, not at, her readers and she isn’t afraid to poke fun at herself. She keeps it real. Although she may have been intended for an older audience, with the frequent references to Eighties and Nineties popular culture, she resonates with high school girls who appreciate her awkwardness and her honesty. That is why she has been compared to Sassy and Jane, two irreverent titles that have graduated into cult icon status. Those are large shoes to fill, and Missbehave is still growing into them.




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