Chelsea Hawkins
April 25, 2015 6:54 am

Growing up mixed-race/indigenous, I rarely saw people who looked like me on TV or in movies, and never ever were women like that in fashion magazines. So I learned to covet waif-like bodies, blue eyes and hair cascading in perfect ringlets – I learned that what was beautiful was, ultimately, opposite of me. Beauty was overwhelmingly white. So when I learned about Native Max magazine, I was beyond stoked. Started in 2012 by Kelly Holmes, a Lakota woman from the Cheyenne River Reservation, Native Max celebrates indigenous people, our diverse culture and communities, and – this is the best bit — our fashion.

Yes, fashion. The bimonthly magazine was inspired by Holmes’s desire to see more women like her in print. “I collected fashion magazines since I was little,” Holmes told Buzzfeed in a recent interview. “At 16 I started wondering if a magazine could exist that had Native American stories and models, makeup tutorials that matched our skin tone.”

Four years later, Holmes filled-the-gap and launched the very magazine she had envisioned as a teenager – Native Max was born, out of both love and necessity because let’s be real, this is something that’s been glaringly absent in mainstream fashion.

There’s nothing else like it. No, really. There are some great sites and news magazines that reach out to Native communities – and they’re a fabulous resource – but Native Max is sleek, it’s cool, and it’s up front-and-center with what’s important to millennials. This is one of those rare publications that cross those cultural divides and can reach to both the Native and non-Native communities.

It’s serious and fun. It might be a fashion magazine, but it’s also smart and in-your-face. You are able to read about designers, progressive hip-hop artists, politics as well as women’s rights issues all in the same space. It’s conversational, it’s quality and it’s exactly the kind of thing that appeals to all sides of a 21st-century-woman: her mind and her aesthetic.

It celebrates people outside of the mainstream. Enough said. There are profiles of powerful pugilists, dapper dudes, and fab female filmmakers. How can you not love it?

It’s run by a hella cool woman. Kelly Holmes is not only at the helm, serving as a writer and editor-in-chief, creative director, and sometimes model. She’s also a mom and fearless leader of a staff from all corners of the US. Oh, and they have Canadian and Hawaiian specific publications too – with New Zealand hopefully coming soon. How’s that for having it all?

It takes back what is so often appropriated by the mainstream. The cultural appropriation of indigenous regalia, designs and traditional wear is all too common, spanning from Urban Outfitters to runways to every music festival on the globe. But Holmes is making it a priority to combat blatant cultural appropriation and insensitivity: “We are trying to educate the mainstream fashion industry,” Holmes told f. “It’s great if they want to honor our culture … but it would be better if they brought on a Native designer who knows the real designs and can guide them.”

The only thing I would change about Native Max? That it only came into my life now – I would have loved to have something like this when I was in high school.

(Images via Buzzfeed)

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