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OUTSIDE Celebrates 40th Anniversary With All Women’s Issue

Posted April 23, 2017

OUTSIDE, America’s preeminent active and adventure lifestyle brand, debuts its first-ever issue featuring women exclusively in the May publication, on newsstands April 11. Dubbed the “XX Factor Issue,” the special production celebrates women who have made history over the course of OUTSIDE’s 40-year run, and shines a light on the issues, athletes, and thinkers who will define Living Bravely for the next generation. The issue was produced entirely by women, with the edit role filled by Deputy Editor Mary Turner, and contributors including Rahawa Haile, Florence Williams, Stephanie Pearson, and photographer Annabel Mehran. Support from an advertising partnership with outdoor retailer REI, who is launching a major women-focused campaign in the May issue, allowed OUTSIDE to go all-in on women’s content.

Mary Turner, Deputy Editor, OUTSIDE told DIVERGE more:

Why is this issue significant?

While Outside has always covered women, this is the first time in our 40 year history that we have devoted an entire monthly issue to all women’s content. Every writer, photographer, and person in this issue is a woman. Also almost all of the advertising creative showcases women, including REI’s groundbreaking Force of Nature campaign, which launched in our May issue.

Why was it a priority for Outside to do this?

It is our 40th anniversary year, and when we sat down to talk about what special issues we’d like to do to celebrate our anniversary, everyone on our staff agreed that we’d like to do an all-women’s issue. We recognize that we—and the outdoor industry as a whole—can do a much better job covering women, and we wanted to start a conversation about that. We also wanted to recognize the force that women have become in our world. We make up 51 percent of all outdoor consumers and 46 percent of outdoor participants. We make up half of the 160 million annual adventure travelers. We are a major economic force in the outdoor industry, and spent billions on gear and travel last year alone. We are incredible athletes, environmentalists, and creative forces in the world Outside. And we’re only growing stronger. Outside wants to be a leader in the outdoor industry representing women, because Outside has never been about a gender. Like the outdoors, it is a place for us all. Meanwhile our partnership with REI and their bold Force of Nature campaign and initiatives to get more women in the outdoors has been critically important and equally inspiring.

What do you hope the readers get from this?

I hope that all of them—men and women—will enjoy and be inspired by the content and celebrate the challenges and triumphs that the women in this issue have overcome and accomplished. And that our readers will ask for more. We so appreciate hearing from them each month, and we listen.

How did you prioritize to showcase a diverse range of women?

For the cover and each story in the issue, it was really important to us to gather a diverse group of women of all ages from all parts of the world Outside, from top athletes to activists to leaders of social movements. Like soccer legend Abby Wambach, who is fighting for equal pay for women. And GirlTrek cofounders Morgan Dixon and Vanessa Garrison, who plan to have one million African American women walking by 2018. And skier Lindsey Vonn, the best skier—male or female—in the world, who is pushing for women to be allowed to compete against men and has a foundation that supports girls learning adventure sports. And Diana Nyad, who at the age of 64 swam for 53 hours nonstop from Florida to Cuba. She’s now 67 and does 1,000 burpees in one session multiple times a week! Rahawa Haile’s essay about hiking the Appalachian Trail alone makes me tear up every time I read it. Tara Houska’s work defending the Native American Water Protectors at Standing Rock is truly awe-inspiring. And the Girl Scouts—sign me up! Among many other incredible women in the issue.

Will this be something you continue to highlight?

Absolutely. The excitement for our women’s issue amongst our staff was palpable, and we look forward to doing much more. We have numerous stories in the works for future monthly issues, from athlete profiles to business stories to issues women face in our world, and more women planned for our covers. We plan to consistently use more women writers and photographers. Outside Online is also launching multiple women’s initiatives, including exciting behind-the-scenes video interviews from our May cover shoot, the 40 must-know women in our world, new columns by women, and more fitness and gear coverage for women as well. We’re also launching a podcast series hosted by Contributing Editor and bestselling author Florence Williams on leading women in our world, including climber Beth Rodden, who talks about how she survived a traumatizing kidnapping while on an expedition a few years ago, and mountaineer Arlene Blum, who led an all-women’s expedition up Annapurna I in 1978, the first American team to summit, with a harrowing story of survival and the deaths of two team members.