Getting Down and Dirty, Literally

By Cailey Barnhart

Dirty Girls Magazine features the “boldest, baddest and most brilliant” literary writings and works from empowered individuals across the globe, but it’s based right here in Youngstown. 

The magazine’s mission is to “curate and circulate entertainment and insight, while promoting emerging and distinguished artists on an accessible, worldwide platform.”

Joelle Lambert, executive editor and founding CEO, is currently pursuing her master’s degree in fiction at Youngstown State University and used her years of editorial experience to create a magazine that would serve to fill the “void of personality and expression” she was seeing.

“Dirty Girls Magazine allowed for a space for all genders to come together and express themselves openly and share these emotional moments that have legitimacy in our lives and histories,” Lambert said. 

McKenzie Teter, copy editor and director of poetry, is a Master of Fine Arts candidate with a focus in poetry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

The pair have been best friends for years, and Lambert said coming together on something like Dirty Girls was inevitable.

“The two of us have been sharing our love of stories ever since we were 5 years old, sitting in the back of church camp making up stories about superheroes and universes,” she said.

The magazine’s name has raised some eyebrows, but Lambert explained its empowering origins.

“The name Dirty Girls was inspired because I was bullied a lot in school. It was more about taking words that are originally meant to hurt people and use them to overcome adversity and find strength and empowerment.”

The first issue featured 29 contributors, some emerging, some established and award winning. A handful of these 29 artists are students at YSU that were proud to share their voices.

Robin Stears, a 2019 graduate of the professional and technical writing program, published her Google autocomplete poem titled “What a Woman.” Her inspiration came from a Google search of her own.

“I was searching for something of a personal nature, and I noticed that autofill predictive text already had an idea of what I should be asking,” she said. “On one hand, it sounds like a bunch of random questions that people who don’t know women very well would ask.”

“On the other hand, if a woman were reading it, it would sound snarky, as if to say, ‘Can you believe the ignorance people have about women?’” Stears added.

Elizabeth Lehman, an American studies master’s candidate, submitted her artwork because she befriended Joelle on campus. “It sounded like a cool, local, female-friendly idea,” she said. 

Kyle Rea, a senior English major, said he submitted his work because Dirty Girls seemed like an incredibly inclusive magazine looking to showcase various diverse artists.

“It can be disheartening submitting work as a queer writer sometimes, not feeling my perspective is appreciated or wanted, but Dirty Girls made me feel like my voice was being heard,” he said. 

The magazine has two issues per year, one in summer and one in winter. 

The deadline to submit for the winter issue is Oct. 1. Dirty Girls Magazine accepts fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art. Submissions can be sent to [email protected]

The first issue is available to read for free digitally at and is available for purchase as a physical copy at