My Media Diet: Polyester zine editor Ione Gamble

The zine founder explores chronic illness and feminism in her debut book Poor Little Sick Girls. Here, she reveals what she’s been reading, scrolling over and memeing.

Ione Gamble is someone who knows her way around the internet. As someone who’s spent much of her life dealing with chronic illness, finding comfort in the blue glow of screens and the community they provide as a result, she’s well-versed in both the joy and frustration of what the web can bring.

Gamble is editor of feminism and culture zine Polyester (whose podcast is essential listening, covering topics like It Girls, our obsession with scammers, and whether Instagram is in its flop era). Founding the mag five years ago, and self-publishing it using money from her student loan, Gamble has since put out eight issues – covered by icons like Gemma Collins, Amelia Dimoldenberg and CupcakKe. Inspired by everything from The Simpsons to teen glossies, its colourful, illustration-filled pages have a strong visual identity as a counterpoint to the often-minimal designs of lifestyle mags, while the Polyester site has custom Angelfire-esque cursors and pixelated glitter falling down the screen like it’s the 90s, baby. Fans can also sign up to The Dollhouse, a members-only space with benefits like mentoring with the zine’s columnists and IRL meet-ups.

Diagnosed with an incurable illness in her late teens, the ensuing difficulties forced Gamble to quit her dream job, as they weren’t able (read: willing) to accommodate her needs. It’s this she explores in her forthcoming book Poor Little Sick Girls: A Love Letter To Unacceptable Women, which addresses the very un-glam nature of illness, and how sickness is something we desperately want to escape and avoid. It does this through a very online lens that explores feminism in its current, anti-girlboss incarnation, and looks at current obsessions with wellness and self-care – movements that were begun, she notes, by disabled people. Within chapters like Beyond Millennial Pink” and It Costs A Lot To Look This Cheap” she writes with honesty, humour and vulnerability.

Polyesters core manifesto is have faith in your own bad taste” – a quote from the grandaddy of subversion, John Waters. So, have faith in Ione Gamble’s (good!) taste and dig into her media picks below.

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The last article I found myself thinking about was…

How mental health became a social media minefield, an article on the current state of mental health discourse and self diagnosis in online spaces. It’s kind of old but was sent to me by a friend recently, and has been rattling around my mind ever since. I think there’s so much to say about this corner of TikTok that is kind of unsettling and also difficult to discuss sensitively, which this piece definitely does.

The last new artist I discovered on Spotify was…

I barely listen to music, it’s actually really embarrassing!

The last podcast I spent hours listening to was…

The Twin Flames podcast is absolutely wild. It follows the rise of a cult, led by a couple who promise to help you find your twin flame’, aka soulmate. It’s kind of like MLM meets cult meets New Age spirituality and it just gets more and more unbelievable as the episodes go on.

The last TikTok I sent to a friend was…

@jaydensalaam The way me and my friends be laughing in group chats is not needed Omg 😭😭😭😭 #xyzbca #viral #fyp ♬ KOTO SO SILLY SPED UP - KOTO.

I’m a hater and proud!!!!

The last series I binged (or watched a lot of) was…

I actually watch an ungodly amount of TV. I just finished Russian Doll season two which was a slow start but the final few episodes really made up for it. I just love Natasha Lyonne so much, and Chloë Sevigny playing her mum is absolutely perfect.

The last Reddit thread I got sucked into was…

I’m not big into Reddit so probably the last time I was really on there was during Yellowjackets in which I got really into the conspiracy theories surrounding the show. No-one else was watching it as it was airing so after each episode I’d just go into an hours-long wormhole of the most far-fetched fan theories then parrot them around to people who had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.

The last book I stayed awake reading was…

I feel very lucky to have been sent an advanced copy of Travis Alabanza’s debut, None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary, and it is absolutely stunning. Travis is one of the sharpest writers out there and everyone should read this book, out in August.

The last new word I learned was…

I actively avoid Twitter accounts that teach you new words. I don’t need to know any more! I have enough!

The last meme that made me laugh aloud was…

Not quite a meme but Rebekah Vardy comparing Colleen Rooney to a pigeon will go down in history… genius! Poetry!

Poor Little Sick Girls, published by Dialogue Books, is released on 26th May.

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