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Verily’s Secret



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“Want more?”

For your life?

 . . . from your fashion magazine?

Verily, a new women’s magazine, asks the question just as soon as you open it up. And you’re compelled to lift the front cover because the smiling young woman who welcomes you seems to have something that anyone woman might want . . . joy, poise, leisure, as she walks past the city skyline from just far enough away – just far enough for a little fresh air, perhaps even some solace. She seems to be anticipating something, and wants to bring us along for her bike ride, her walk in the park, whatever it is that is next for her. And so we open up.

Practically speaking, the “Want more?” on their website advertises the magazine’s daily updates. (That’s where you can subscribe, too.) “Fashion, beauty, relationships, lifestyle, culture” are promised from all things Verily.

Can men and women be “just friends”? Avoiding “high-maintenance” hair. An “alluring, ethereal visual story.” Want to “achieve” your “natural makeup look”?

Verily is not academic. Verily is a woman’s life in the world in 2013. Verily is decent. It aims for modest, beautiful, realistic style. There’s advice and reflection and reporting. There’s style and substance.

In a sample issue, Sophie Caldecott wrote a beautiful essay about her father, as he and her family faced his cancer diagnosis:

When I was little, my father would often say to me, ‘Don’t lose yourself worrying about what might be coming. Look at the world and love it, love the details; look for a pattern in the clouds, or in a piece of moss.’ This advice has stayed with me through childish bouts of homesickness, and more adult struggles as I tried to make my way into the world of work. But, it never resonated more deeply than it has over the past few months. . . .

Life seems so fragile back in that hospital waiting room, but I have come to realise that in fact it is resilient even in the face of death. When life is built around love, it can outlast death, because death is not the end. The cancer is a sick imitation of the real thing, multiplying desperately because it has no real substance or meaning of its own beyond that which it destroys; that is the nature of evil.

It is almost impossible to say exactly how my father shaped who I am; his gentle manner, his childlike curiosity and awe about the world, his ability to listen and connect and speak right to the heart of the way things are with very few words are all qualities about him that I love, and I aspire to. But perhaps the most precious lesson that a father can teach his daughter – a lesson which helps her to deal with the possibility of losing him, in fact – is that love is stronger than death. I learnt this through the heroes and heroines of the stories that my father shared with me, and, like them, I will never despair or stop believing that the world is good.

Intrigued? Think this is just what your daughter/sister/wife is looking for? This is a magazine our culture has been waiting for. There is something beautiful about Verily. Verily is lovely women, helping women, as women. Enjoy Verily. Ashley Crouch, relationships editor at the magazine, talks with National Review Online about what you can expect from the new magazine. 

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What is Verily exactly?

ASHLEY CROUCH: Verily is a brand new women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine that celebrates the best of who you are. We feature fashion that is worthy of the woman, relationships articles that go beyond sex tips, and strong cultural and lifestyle journalism. Verily is the modern woman’s go-to guide on how to lead a fulfilling, integrated life.
 

LOPEZ: What is its “new vision”?

CROUCH: We have a vision of a magazine that leaves women feeling refreshed and motivated after reading it; that affirms women in their noble aspirations to grow and improve the community around them; that champions health and happiness not in spite of their femininity, but because of it; that showcases beauty that doesn’t degrade the dignity of the person, but embraces it; that offers strong and honest journalism to broaden women’s knowledge of the world.
 

LOPEZ: Your magazine purports to be a “go-to guide on how to lead a fulfilling, integrated life.” Isn’t one person’s fulfilling, integrated life different than another’s?

CROUCH: We all bring different strengths, interests, and experiences to the table, and that’s something to celebrate. Verily is aiming to find ways that we can live our lives as real women of authenticity, in the little decisions we make every day, that embrace our diversity and uniqueness and respects those things that truly contribute to our happiness, well-being, and ability to thrive.
 

LOPEZ: Do you have real-life subscribers?

CROUCH: Verily magazine is a print-only publication with an accompanying website. We have had great response from subscribers since our initial soft launch with the teaser issue, and now we hope to gain many more as we launch our official print issues! The June/July print issue has now been released and already many have it in their mailboxes!

Everyone always talks about the need for better media, and complain about the lack of options. Verily is that outlet and that answer to the need for uplifting, high quality content, and we think it will have lasting effects. We encourage everyone to subscribe or order a print solo copy to read the issues. Our annual subscription includes six issues of Verily for $22, and may be purchased by visiting www.shop.verilymag.com.
 

LOPEZ: Gals can’t just put a magazine together after brunch (which is how this whole venture started). How are you doing this? How are you funding this?

CROUCH: It certainly didn’t happen overnight! We spent months doing research, building up a team of editors, and finding an art director. We collaborate with several incredibly talented writers, photographers, stylists, and artists — nearly 70 in the June/July issue! — to make Verily come to life. Last year we did a soft launch of a digital and print teaser to test our concept, get feedback, and see if anyone would really want to buy it . . . and they did!

We self-funded at first, and because the teaser issue had generated a bit of interest, we were able to raise a small amount of seed capital to put together this issue and start to build a business.
 

LOPEZ: Your press materials indicate that your readers “desire a stable marriage and family.” How is that important to the life of a magazine? How will that guide what goes on your pages? And how can a magazine help rebuilding a culture of marriage and family life?

CROUCH: We believe that there is a group of women that the magazine industry just isn’t reaching. Verily seeks to fill that void by speaking to women in their 20s and 30s who are in a time of transition – whether that’s navigating first jobs post-graduation, managing a budget and becoming financially independent, changing the world at their dream job, or getting married and starting a family.

In other magazines, the narrative about who women should be or what choices they should make often becomes one-sided in favor of career. But studies show that many women still want to start a family and to have a lasting, happy marriage, although a large percentage has reported feeling shamed by others for being a mom. We want to celebrate the decision a women makes to start a family or build a happy marriage, and give women permission to dream about a life in which they don’t have to feel inadequate for having these aspirations. So our content speaks not only the singles, but also women who are young moms or newly married, who are still interested in fashion, being culturally engaged, or maintaining their strong friendships or nurturing their relationship with their spouse.


LOPEZ: Why is the “beyond sex tips” aspect of Verily so important?

CROUCH: We believe that women understand their identity in the types of relationships that they have — be it in romance, career, family, or friendship. Verily goes beyond the hyper-sexualized relationship coverage that is the bread and butter of other fashion magazines, in order to provide women with a more holistic perspective. The old adage, “sex sells,” might be true, but it isn’t helpful when women are trying to navigate the basic questions like choosing whom to date, how to keep in touch with family members over a long distance, or maintaining productive relationships with co-workers, for example. So, our relationship section covers the myriad of situations that real women face. Verily wants to enter into women’s lives and provide them with material that they can implement to truly thrive in all aspects of their lives.


LOPEZ: Everyone from Chris Christie to former Victoria’s Secret model Kylie Bisutti to supermodel Cameron Russell seem to be talking about “body image.” Why is this about more than obvious physical health and vanity? How is this important to the soul? To the culture?

CROUCH: All women want to be and feel beautiful. But what does that really mean? For the fashion industry, beautiful bodies often translates into a body weight that is physically unhealthy for women. Fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi spoke candidly about his own body-image disorder his own recovery from that with the Huffington Post recently, which led him to speculate about the fashion industry and his own models. ”Maybe people should be allowed to be a normal weight,” he wondered.

Few people haven’t heard about Dove’s “real beauty” sketch campaign, which demonstrates that women see themselves as so much less beautiful than others see them. The video drew over 660,000 shares on Facebook alone.

It’s not the first time someone has spoken about grappling with their body image. Image is powerful and shapes the way women view their ideal weight. The desire to be beautiful is written into the heart of every woman and that is a good thing! This is more than just vanity. We are not supposed to shun beauty in this world, but to embrace it as something for which to be grateful. Beauty draws the human heart and can help ennoble or tear down.

Philosopher Edith Stein says that women are searching for physical guide posts about how to understand themselves and their place in the world. So when women are pursuing beauty, it’s because they want to be thought of as desirable and therefore lovable. Perhaps the desire for the perfect body is really the desire for the perfect heart. Either way, we need images that help uplift women and provide healthy positive guides about a beauty that doesn’t cause women to be unhealthy, so they can truly thrive as the best version of themselves. We want to bring beauty into this world by showing representations that uplift the whole person, instead of showcasing the one-dimensional and the hypersexual. In this way, we hope to create a more positive culture in which women feel safer in their own bodies and allowed to thrive as the beautiful, multi-dimensional people they are.


LOPEZ: What is Verily, practically speaking, a solution to?

CROUCH: Verily offers women a vision of life that is so unlike anything else provided in the fashion magazine world right now. Other magazines and media outlets for women perpetuate a sense of inadequacy by preying on women’s insecurities and touting that not only “can they have it all,” but they “should.” In contrast, Verily celebrates who women already are, embracing the fabulous women who are already doing amazing, beautiful things and living interesting lives, and equipping them with the knowledge and stories to help sustain them on that journey.

Whereas other magazines photoshop their images to achieve the “ideal” body type, or maybe leave a maximum of three wrinkles, we never alter the body or face structure of our models. We firmly believe that the unique features of women — be it crow’s feet, freckles, or a less-than-rock-hard body — contribute to their beauty and therefore don’t need to be removed or changed.
 

LOPEZ: Is there actually a future in print magazines? (Asks the editor employed by one!) Does your youthful demographic subscribe to paper magazines?

CROUCH: What kind of substantive articles can we expect to see?

Specifically in the June/July issue, we have a gorgeous editorial fashion photo shoot by the enormously talented duo, The Weaver House, on the theme of Emily Dickinson, to a reporting feature on sex trafficking in America, to a comedic reflection on whether the Disney villains of our childhood need to be redeemed by showcasing their “back story,” or an answer from the popular blog Art of Manliness’s founder Brett McKay about whether men and women can really be just friends. These are just a few of the many gorgeous pieces in the June/July issue. We’re not afraid to tackle the tough questions that real women face, but to do so with honesty and a best-friend tone.

 

LOPEZ: What brought you to Verily?

CROUCH: I’ve always been interested in women’s issues, healthy relationships, and beauty. I want nothing more than to help women be the best they can be, by equipping them with the education, language, and skills they need to not only thrive personally, but also make the culture a better place! I’m drawn to beauty and art and think that we have an enormous opportunity to speak to women’s hearts in a way they can understand. Verily is such a great blend of my passions, because in it, writing, women’s issues, healthy relationships, beauty, and art are all rolled into one tight package!

Taking the leap to start something new like this has been a huge step in faith. But going beyond my comfort zones has had its rewards and I’m living a life I never imagined for myself, but holding on for the ride!
 

LOPEZ: A fashion magazine can’t exactly change the world, can it?

CROUCH: We at Verily want to make the world a better place from our own corner of it, by showcasing material that is uplifting instead of degrading. The types of media we consume shape our worldview, and we want to illustrate coverage that respects women’s intelligence, noble aspirations, and treats them as fellow travelers toward a better life. There have been so many people write us already, grateful for this article or that, saying it helped them think about things differently, or healed them from some wound in the past. We are so thrilled to be that channel!



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