In pictures: vintage covers of ‘Femina’ – a women’s magazine from India

Between 1950 – 1953, the number of women attending University in India had doubled from the years before. Consequently, this burgeoning population of educated, informed women formed a potential market for English language women-magazines.

Trend – a lifestyle magazine targeted towards women, belonged to the Eves Weekly Group. Its editor, Frene Talyarkhan was the first female editor in India. / Image: Shweta Chavan

After Frene Talyarkhan, the Editor of Trend, had a fallout with her employers at Eves Weekly, she started her own periodical, Flair. Flair was later sold to the Times of India Group, and Femina was born.

The first Femina issue appeared on stands in July 1959. Over the decades, the magazine documented and influenced the rise of the “new, modern Indian woman”. It advocated for women’s financial inclusion, and other social issues, creating a network of women from across the subcontinent & where it was exported (e.g : Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South Africa, etc!). The magazine archives offer a glimpse into the trends that impacted India’s women – ranging from food, fashion and relationships to careers. To us at The Heritage Lab, it told us about the many accomplished women (like Frene Talyarkhan) who continue to be missing from the narrative or remain under-represented.

Femina, a nationally circulated magazine, responds to dramatic changes in the lives of middle class women in India.

Radha Saran Hegde (1995), Recipes for Change: Weekly Help for Indian Women,
Women’s Studies in Communication 18:2, 177-188, DOI: 10.1080/07491409.1995.11089797

Take a look at some vintage Femina covers that trace the journey of India’s oldest surviving women’s magazine.

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