Read how two female climbers are amplifying diverse voices in UK with their self-started project: Beta Magazine. One reader Alison Dawson, tells us more about where it all began and the community Beta has created around it.
You are welcome here. Beta Magazine, which this October released its sixth issue, was created in August 2020 by co-founders Emily Ankers and Annie Martin, after the two recreational climbers recognised there had been a lack of climbing media and magazines representing the true diversity of the climbing experience and those that enjoy the sport.
Emily is a key member of the BMC Equity Steering group and an Academic Researcher at Brunel University London specialising in “everyday” women’s experiences of climbing and the outdoors, whose research starkly revealed a historic lack of visibility and accurate representations of women in the climbing and outdoor world, something that has seen vast improvements in recent years. As a result she joined together with fellow climber Annie, a film-maker whose work aims to normalise the presence of women and under-represented groups in the media. Together the two young women curated the blueprint for Beta Magazine, an online publication and community platform to encourage inclusivity and widening participation in the ever growing sport. They recruited the help of fellow climber Catherine Evans, who took a lead on the design elements of the magazine.
Emily said: “Beta Magazine was designed to represent the ‘everyday’ climber, create opportunity and a platform for everyday people to share their stories and discuss topics and issues that are important to them, and to elevate these voices.”
Annie Martin (L) and Emily Ankers (R) set up Beta Magazine in 2020
As the sport grows and climbing in the UK experiences a new spotlight following its inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with Shauna Coxsey being the first British climber to compete on an Olympic Stage, those like Emily and Annie are not the only voices calling for a more accurate representation of women and other marginalised genders and intersectional identities in climbing and the outdoors.
Annie commented: “Since launching Beta Magazine we have continued to receive humbling feedback, some from climbers who didn't even realise they weren't being represented before, but are able to identify with the content published in Beta Magazine. We love hearing that our articles and content have helped people with their climbing journeys, whether that's mental health, confidence, overcoming imposter syndrome or just feeling like they are not alone.”
WATCH: Annie stars in short film 'Hers to Take' on BMC TV
The self-proclaimed vision of Beta is to encourage and create opportunities for conversations and thinking around themes in climbing and the outdoors. Through the first five issues, which have been released on a quarterly basis since August 2020, Beta has featured a compilation of stories from its readers on topics including imposter syndrome, illness, disability, comparison, and motherhood, featuring titles such as “Perspective of an outsider”, “Stress and the body” and, “How my sporty supportive friend ended my bad relationship with exercise”.
Beta audaciously discusses uncomfortable but important issues with openness and honesty, paired with compelling visuals and artistic input from other members of the community.
A reading of any issue of the magazine reveals that Beta is about normality and inclusivity - and showcasing how climbing is a space that can be enjoyed and benefited from by all people. The community acts as a gateway and safe space for those who want to experience these benefits but may have felt alienated or othered through the traditional face of climbing and the outdoors in the media.
Emily continues: “For too long climbing media has been dominated by climbers of a certain grade level, and grade-ism continues to be a problem. We're trying to break this pattern by showing that climbing actually is for all, and ultimately it's about community and enjoyment."
As Beta grows, Emily and Annie hope to continue to hear from and share the experiences of their diverse readership, with an attitude of growing and learning together with the community they are pioneering. Beta is active on Instagram @betamagazineclub and every issue in addition to further information can be found on their website: www.betamagazine.co.uk
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Finding Our Way is the new BMC podcast where our guests are as diverse as the outdoors should be.
Hosted by BMC Hillwalking Ambassador and TV Broadcaster Mary-Ann Ochota and Expedition Leader and equity champion Cress Allwood, the podcasts aims to diversify the people we normally hear talking about the outdoors, celebrate their stories and shine a light on their insights.
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