The creators of nudie mag Momma Tried invite you to get down with your bad self -- regardless of what you look like, how you identify, or who you sleep with.
The magazine is a far cry from Playboy centerfolds featuring primarily scantily clad, big-breasted, white women. Instead, co-creators Micah Learned and Theo Eliezer ditch the heteronormative tropes and instead play with a more realistic portrayal of sex, sexuality and sexiness.
"I think that in general we’re experiencing a cultural shift towards an awareness of issues of gender and sexuality," Eliezer said in an email conversation with The Huffington Post. "Part of our objective in making a nudie magazine is having a platform to expose readers to the beauty of normal people, regardless of size, ethnicity, and gender identity."
Momma Tried is a non-heteronormative art and nudie mag based out of New Orleans. Using their own creative content, submissions from artists around the world and the generosity of friends, Learned and Eliezer curated a magazine they hope appeals to an audience that is looking for media that is stimulating and inclusive. Their knack for high-end publishing lends to a publication that looks and feels like a heavy-weight art mag while leaving behind exclusivity that often comes with the art world -- they combine smart yet playful editorials with beautiful and occasionally cheeky imagery.
"At the same time we’re aware of and super acute to the misogyny presented in many mainstream publications; we’re reacting to that as much as we are to the inaccessibility of many literary journals and to humdrum profit-driven art magazines," Learned said.
Learned and Eliezer launched a Kickstarter campaign to help publish the second issue of Momma Tried. The campaign ends on Oct 9 at 11:02 a.m. CDT and as of October 1 they have raised nearly $9,000 of their $15,000 goal. Unlike most magazines, Momma Tried does not run paid ads, leaving a majority of the printing and publishing costs to be funded via donations and through the Kickstarter campaign.
"No one pays for space in Momma Tried, which does create certain financial hardships, but it also allows every page to add to the quality, aesthetic, voice and purpose of the magazine," Learned said.
Also unlike most magazines, none of the images featured in the mag have been retouched. In addition to representing diversity of sexuality, gender, ethnicity and race, Learned and Eliezer said the distortion of bodies via Photoshop contributes to negativity towards all bodies and body acceptance.
"There is so much documentation that shows the damaging effects of photoshopped images on self esteem and the rise of disordered self-image," Eliezer said. "This sort of 'real' is about body acceptance and showing all sorts of people without altering their images to fit the narrow beauty standards that are arbitrary and obviously really harmful on both a personal and societal level."
In this vein, Momma Tried is more of a body and sex positive art journal than it is an old-school porn rag. Sure it's NSFW (it is a nudie mag after all), but Eliezer and Learned said nudity and sex doesn't have to be naughty -- a naked body isn't inherently graphic. Unlike self-identified porno mags that utilize the naked body in a overtly sexual way tailored to the male gaze, Momma Tried features the naked body in an art setting. While it doesn't shy away from being provocative, it's not a magazine they want their readers to hide.
"Part of what we're doing is trying to create something that's really body-positive and sex-positive and, I don't really like to use this lightly, but a kind of safe space for expression of nudity and sexual identity that doesn't have to be graphic in order to be important," Eliezer said in a phone interview with The Huffington Post before the release of their first issue in 2013. "Through this really high quality publication, we can present sexuality without shame or guilt or the baggage of the kind of misogynistic overtones that accompany a lot of other publications that are meant for that."
Eliezer and Learned are not shy to address these hard-pressing issues. Though instead of Momma Tried being a platform for radical change, it's acting as a normalizer -- all sexualities, gender identity, ethnicity, race and size have access and exposure in the nudie mag world, not just petite pinups. The people they portray, the images they show and the messages they promote are not intended to be shocking, but rather a celebration of diversity.
"Ultimately we really just want readers of Momma Tried to feel like they’ve found a magazine that they adore, and to have our perspectives on all of these issues take a back seat to how compelling and fun the content is," Eliezer said.