Carrie Gress has a doctorate from the Catholic University of America and is a philosophy professor at Pontifex University. She is the author of several books, including The Marian Option: God’s Solution to a Civilization in Crisis. Carrie is the co-author with George Weigel of City of Saints: A Pilgrims Guide to John Paul II’s Krakow. A homeschooling mother of four, she and her family live in Virginia. Visit her blog at www.carriegress.com. (Photo by Renata Grzan Wierczorek, RenataPhotography.com)
If you are at all like me, you have simply given up at looking at most women’s magazines. I accepted long ago that they are a “do not go zone” of gossip, the shallow, and even the crass (like Cosmo). I simply don’t care what the latest Hollywood starlets are eating (or not eating), what steamy relationship they are in, or what they wore to the latest awards ceremony. Not a titch of this has any bearing upon my daily life.
Don’t get me wrong – I love magazines. Garden and Gun, This Old House, Southern Living, Coastal Living and Saveur magazines are all favorites to which I subscribe, but I stick to them because they generally stay in the safe arena of home improvement, culture and cooking. Real Simple is about as close as I come to edging toward a women’s magazine, but it is mostly visual candy (without content that really gets into one’s soul). I flip through it while nursing and occasionally tear out recipes, but there is little that really stays with me. (Their recent editorial decision to include lesbian advertising has also been off-putting, to say the least.)
How often have I thought standing in the checkout line, “If only there were a magazine to love that didn’t assault the senses and was for real women?” Not just women who wear size 2 with large monthly clothing budgets, or who have been deluded into thinking that changing their sex life will solve their every problem. But real women, women who have to balance their budgetary priorities, organize all their homes, and who a have real interest in culture, beauty, the arts and fashion – without being slaves to any of them. But also women who have faith in God and don’t want to feel like he has to be push aside when paging through a magazine.
Finally, now there is hope.
Verily Magazine was the first to break the old magazine mold when it came onto the scene a couple of years ago. Catering largely to millennial women, it has a lot of depth not found elsewhere although there is nothing about it that is overtly religious. Articles like Why I Never Considered Living With My Husband Before Marriage, Is Egg Freezing Really the Pro-Woman Solution?, and These Health Benefits of Spirituality Might Surprise You, take a gentle approach to dealing with deeper issues. Breaking away from the women-are-only-successful-if-they-avoid-having-children mantra found in most other periodicals of its sort, is a great step in the right direction. Verily is also the type of magazine, because it doesn’t strike one as an evangelical tool that could easily be passed off to a friend of most any stripe; it wouldn’t offend her but would leave her edified – or at least exposed to a new point of view.
And now For Her at Aleteia* has arrived on the publishing scene. Under the new editorial leadership of Cynthia Dermody, the magazine fits the bill for the hugely under-served demographic of faithful and fashionable women. The online magazine features gorgeous photography of the latest fashion trends, stunning homes (both in the U.S. and abroad), design ideas, stories on relationships, and even an entire section on faith and spirituality. This week’s features includes the article A Nun's Life about what its like to give yourself over to the unique call of God, and Can We Live Without Beauty?, which is a penetrating look at the importance the beautiful plays in our everyday lives. Rather than just being provocative but lacking in substance, the For Her articles go deep and leave one thinking, while also tapping into women’s creative genius with their suggestions for home and wardrobe.
For years, many have suggested that if we really want to win the culture wars, we have to do it through culture (imagine that?). We have overlooked for too long the dark influences that popular culture has had on the average woman. So what better way to tackle the culture than through a women’s magazine that captures all that is stunning, compelling, fun, fresh, and faithful? Now we just have to pray that someone will give the folks at For Her or Verily several million dollars so they can make a print version. It would be worth every penny.
(Full disclosure: I am a freelance writer for Aleteia, but not for For Her.)