SIR magazine strives to give a voice to the voiceless


Courtesy of SIR Magazine

sir magazine fall 2017

Peyton Spaunbauer

Once a men’s fashion magazine, SIR now features art, culture and a message, taking readers on an immersive and thought-provoking experience in each of its editions.

SIR aims to capture and represent perspectives that are aren’t commonly found in the broader mainstream media.

The magazine has evolved from what Brandon Spencer, junior in apparel merchandising, called “more of a white frat guy magazine” to become one of the most diverse and inclusive publications on campus. Slowly, its pages have been filled with the words and images of people who may not be heard or seen as predominantly in other sectors of campus media.

Within the publication, people of all colors and different sexual orientations, women in hijabs, men in makeup and articles tackling issues from toxic masculinity to modern racism are just some of the elements SIR has included in past editions.

Spencer, who has been editor-in-chief of the magazine since spring 2018, credits former editor-in-chief and Iowa State alum, Tré Moore, for SIR’s shift in messaging.

“Tré [Moore] really opened the door to show more diversity,” Spencer said.

Spencer said because of Moore’s groundwork, he feels he has the ability to push more boundaries.

Issue 12 marked Spencer’s first SIR release as editor-in-chief and featured the tagline: “The future is upon us.”

The issue was divided into three sections — “We Lived, We Struggled and We Arrived” — the magazine tells the story of victories in diversity, the fight for equality and the work that lies ahead.

Within the issue, one of the featured images still resides in mind of readers: Two women of color wearing hijabs with an American flag waving in the wind behind them.

The photo captures attention with the contrast of the women’s black skin against their brightly colored scarfs and gold makeup glistening in the light.

“We deserve a future where black hijabi girls can see themselves in the American flag,” Spencer said, providing insight for the photograph he took.

Maintaining a story into the next issue, SIR presented readers with more of a thought provoking piece.

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” the edition’s theme, is printed on the cover under a photograph of a woman of color, upside down. Down to nitty gritty details like the grainy finish of the paper the magazine is printed on, to the models selected to represent their message, the SIR staff are the masterminds of the entire issue.

“A lot of the time the narrative is spun to tell one story – my story doesn’t have one ending,” Lynette Kwaw-Mensah, director of casting, said about her motivations when selecting models. “We want people that represent the world around us.”

Spencer said growing up and not seeing representation of himself throughout the media had harbored some pain.

Beyond its gleaming and thoughtfully-crafted pages, the students of SIR Magazine embody the missions of their messaging.

By including people of all identities in the production process, SIR is able to best emulate the diversity within groups and receive feedback from a range of perspectives.

“Diversity is who you have, but inclusion is what you’re doing,” Kwaw-Mensah said.

Kwaw-mensah said she welcomes anyone to reach out and provide contribution to SIR.

The magazine’s issue 14 is currently in the works and is set to continue its message of strength in inclusivity.

“We only have two models that we’ve used before; all issues [of SIR] correlate,” Spencer said, alluding to the publication’s future plans.