It takes guts to become the voice you want to read in the world. It takes even more to share your vision and put it on display for all to see. But one particularly remarkable group of Sooners is carving out a creative space online and in print in hopes of resonating with the young, strong, female voices of campus and beyond.
The name may not be so familiar to you yet, but Beloved magazine, a publication originating right here in Norman, is something you might want to keep on the lookout for. It's a magazine and blog from a team of talented ladies from OU’s campus and the Norman community.
Lark Reely, a senior health and exercise science major, felt there wasn’t a magazine or similar media speaking to a broader audience of young women, particularly those in the “figuring-it-out-stages" of life.
“I had this idea of what it would be like if there was a magazine that for (college-aged women) that I would actually read," says Reely.
Unsatisfied with what was offered, she took matters into her own hands. In October 2014, she approached friend and senior psychology major Sheridan Hall with her spark of an idea that was to become Beloved.
Originally tapping Hall to take on the role of leader, Reely was later persuaded to take on the role herself and soon gathered a rag-tag group of gals to help shape the actualization Beloved. The goal was simple – to create something relatable to fill the void they felt was in women's magazines.
Beloved features some of the usual content you might find in women's magazines, like beauty tips and lifestyle trends, but its ambitions go further to resonant with its readers.
Writers haven’t shied away from more series musings. Its tone reflects the diverse and smart women behind it. They share their feelings and inspirations in an of-the-moment style. Body image, relationships and social issues are all on the table.
Now, why the name Beloved? Its meaning is significant in scripture, but it can also speak beyond that to everyone about a message of positivity, according to the staff.
Beloved sets out to broaden the definition of what success looks like for young women.
“The picture of what it looks like to be a successful woman can be narrow … but there is not just one story that is all laid out for you,” said MaryBeth Omido, a 2011 OU grad and fellow editor of the magazine.
Mentors from the Norman community help oversee writers and bring in the perspective of someone who has lived through those figuring-it-out years. Their experiences help them offer sound advice and create content that isn’t hollow.
OU ESL instructor Rayne Willis uses her writing and editing skills to serve in various roles for Beloved. One of those roles is acting as liason between the mentors and younger staff.
“At 29, I’m living on the edge,” she says in reference to the loosely set 18- to 30-year-old demographic.
As you might expect, putting this all together is no breeze. Delegating tasks and overseeing writers at various stages of the creative process takes time, as does coming together to make creative and design decisions. The team tries to manage this all while taking care of full work and class schedules. It’s not easy, but it's a labor of love.
“There are a lot of things that go into it than I originally thought,” says industrial engineering junior Jasmine Malloy, who oversees design and layout aspects of the magazine.
What's unique about Beloved is its message extends beyond the limits of OU’s campus and easily transcends into something with broad appeal. The writers aren't pushing the idea of your "ideal self," but instead want to meet young women where they are.
Growth of the magazine and blog is apparent as staff grew from five at the first meeting to about 50 women working in different roles. For right now, the creators take the future of Beloved a step at a time, but the idea of it having a lasting impact is nothing to scoff at.
“If this could be my real job, I would love that,” says Reely.
While the future is unknown, the ladies are enjoying this experience as a creative outlet and an opportunity to hang out with a kick-butt, cool crew of girls. In a world that is becoming more open to unique female perspectives in media, we’re betting the Beloved gang will go far in life no matter what they pursue.
Want to get your hands on a copy of the first issue? Buy a downloadable copy with ease here.