Glamorous Refusal: a new magazine about women saying ‘no’ has a storefront on 14th Ave

Emily Orrson at the 14th Ave Glamorous Refusal storefront (Image: Dylan M. Austin for CHS)

There is a magazine stand, of sorts, being opened on 14th Ave between Pike and Pine. But you’ll find only one title at 1402 E Pike starting Thursday night with the Capitol Hill Art Walk.

The Magazine of Glamorous Refusal is a print magazine, Capitol Hill pop-up, and series of events centered on the exploration of the word, “no.” The images and prose within the magazine shine an absurdist light on empowering individuals — specifically women — to say “no” as an exercise of power and confidence, while dismantling the notion that saying “no” is always a negative. A recipient of the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture smART Ventures Grant, the magazine seeks to provide a platform for others to find confidence in their own “Glamorous Refusals.”

CHS talked with Emily Orrson to discuss the inspiration behind the magazine, upcoming events in the pop-up space on Capitol Hill, and the future of the movement.

What is the inspiration behind the magazine? No was my first word. And I have had a harder and harder time saying it since then.

I just think it is really hard to say no. We live in this culture that conditions people to say yes, women especially, where we’re bred to be socially-obliging and to appease, and it makes it really difficult to say no.


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It feels disappointing and lame, and like you’re letting people down, like you can’t hear your own voice sometimes. Saying no is an essential way to set healthy boundaries and stay in the driver’s seat of your life, and I would like to live in a world where that is easy to say. So that’s where this came from, is just a desire to live in a world where I felt comfortable saying no, and other people hopefully did, too.

Tell me about the cover! It is a tennis racket, and that is a wedding cake. This is actually an outtake from one of the shots in the magazine, which is of a woman whacking away, kind of like, serving up this little platter of glamorously refused tradition.

The magazine includes a line about how saying no is “saying yes to something inside yourself.” Tell us about that. People hear no and think no is a negative and no is divisive, but I’m trying to emphasize with this movement that no can be a path to yes. That it is more of a synergy of yes and no rather than this duality of yes and no. Because when I say no to an invitation to do something, I’m saying yes to my prerogative not to do it. When I say no to a sexual advance, I’m saying yes to my own prerogative and honoring myself. So, I would hope that we can kind of start to change this paradigm of yes and no and no as this positive thing into something not so negative.

(Image: Dylan M. Austin for CHS)

This all feels exceptionally timely. What’s crazy is three years ago I bought the domain “idontfeelbad.com” which is kind of a different type of glamorous refusal like, look, I’m not going to let anyone tell me how to feel about things. And then I bought “idontwanttohavesex.com.” This was all three years ago, before “me too” but it goes to show you that these issues are timeless. This has been present and top of mind maybe forever – I don’t know if there was ever a time when it was okay to say no, where it felt ok to say no. We have more to refuse right now, it’s staggering.

This magazine is fairly absurdist and lightweight and fun, and that’s because you have to laugh to keep from crying. If I went in there and addressed some of the severity of the glamorous refusal we are facing today, and I hope to find a way to do that in future issues… it is heavy. I mean, we can glamorously refuse everything that is happening in the world in this especially trying time.

I went live with the website and the Instagram the day before the Kavanaugh trial, and it was just like, “Here we go.”

What role does Glamorous Refusal play in the current climate of Capitol Hill Gentrification is a tricky one. I don’t know how you would glamorously refuse gentrification in a way that would lead to positive change because it is such a systemic and tricky and deep issue. I would hope that this magazine and this movement creates space for people to activate expressions of glamorous refusal at spaces like the events that are happening here, activate old spaces on the hill that aren’t currently activated like this space. Some kind of renewal and rebirth in the neighborhood that the magazine is inspiring in that respect.

It’s hard because I’ve only been here for five years, so I am part of the gentrification and the change that is happening to the hill, so I’m complicit in this eroding of culture. I would hope that we, as a community, are intentional about listening and respecting the history of this place and being additive to what happens here.

What has the response been so far? It seems to resonate with everyone. Everyone who hears about it immediately connects with how hard it is to say no and to refuse. It’s resonant, and I have encountered a lot of people who come back to me later and were like, “You know, I’ve realized something I haven’t been able to say no to in my life.”

Saying no is resonant to any person. I’ve gotten great reception and a lot of energy to help. A lot of people have volunteered their time on this magazine. We have a calendar of events through the month of October, where people are expressing refusal in various glamorous ways. We have a drag show of glamorous refusal, and a movement workshop of glamorous refusal, and a photo gallery of glamorous refusal, a night of free head shavings, and those are all people who are using this as a platform. Everything that is happening here is a personal initiative of people who have something to refuse. It feels like a movement. I would like this to be a movement.

(Image: Dylan M. Austin for CHS)

What is the future for Glamorous Refusal? Issue 2, which would be spring if we can figure out how to fund it. If this thing goes, it should fund Issue 2. In the long-term, I’d want to ramp into a quarterly cadence for releasing. And I think it would be fun to organize a month of Glamorous Refusal every year, where, as a city, everybody does events around Glamorous Refusal and we activate glamorous refusal here in Seattle.

The first issue of Glamorous Refusal is available now for pre-order for $12.99 through the pop-up shop and website, and $14.99 on Amazon. The pop-up shop is located at 1402 E Pike, in the back of the LoveCityLove Artificial Limb building. More information, pre-orders, and a full calendar of events can be found at glamorousrefusal.com.

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