Love them or loathe them, many women have at some point
flipped through the fashion and celebrity magazines that
accost grocery shoppers at checkout lines. The glossy covers
show scantily clad women with airbrushed bodies and promises
to provide readers with "Ten tips to get your guy back" and
"The skinny on why you're fat."
While they may contain a few tasty recipes or fun fashion
trends, most women do not find much substance within their
"There are a lot of women's magazines out there, but none
really that speaks to us as women," said Mary Rose Somarriba,
a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Washington and
culture editor of the new magazine Verily.
"They are not speaking to readers in helpful ways - and
sometimes even in a hurtful way," she said. "Often women's
magazines turn into a guilty pleasure. We read them, but we
don't feel uplifted by them."
According to a survey by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty,
75 percent of teenage girls felt "depressed, guilty and
shameful after spending just three minutes leafing through a
Two years ago, five young Catholic women living in New York
City looked at this survey, their own experiences, and other
studies showing women's overall declining happiness, and
decided to create a magazine that would offer something
With its new website unveiled April 17 and its first
bimonthly issue out next month, Verily articles hope
to "lift women up," said Somarriba. "The mentality we have
for Verily is to have it be like a friend, a real
friend, a friend you can trust."
Somarriba - who moved to Washington so her husband could
complete a degree at the Institute for the Psychological
Sciences, a Catholic graduate school of psychology in
Arlington - was managing editor of First Things
prior to her work on Verily.
The new magazine is not religious but is informed by the
editors' faith and "desire to be better women," said
"We want to meet women where they are, wherever they are, and
with whatever background they came from."
Yet she hopes the magazine will play a small role in the new
"There are layers of evangelization," she said. "Some
evangelize directly through catechesis, others through
charitable work. Another way, a more indirect way, is through
initiatives like this one."
With a feminine, elegant, modern aesthetic, the magazine and
website feature articles and blogs on culture, lifestyle,
relationships and style.
Kate Gallagher, a 2004 graduate of Oakcrest School in McLean
and a parishioner of St. Peter Church in Washington, is a
contributing lifestyle blogger.
She said Verily offers a distinct contrast to most
women's magazines, which do not see beyond the physical.
As a personal trainer, Gallagher knows firsthand that women
"can be beautiful outside - great hair, great nails, great
body - but inside they are suffering."
"I think women suffer so much from all the pressure society
puts on them. We've lost the sense of dignity of who we are
as a child of God," she said. "Women try to find their
worth in sex, in what they wear, in unhealthy relationships;
they search for their self-worth in something else, anything
that eases the insecurities within them."
The goal of Verily is to inform every story with the
belief that women have inherent dignity and worth.
"We want this to be something women pick up to build
themselves up, to be the best versions of themselves, to
empower them to be their best self," said Somarriba.
The magazine will not merely criticize culture, however, but
engage with it.
"Some people feel called to criticize the culture and that
definitely has its place," Somarriba said. "But in this
venture I feel called to see both the good and the bad."
For example, Somarriba wrote a piece on Beyoncé after
her performance at the Super Bowl. She is critical of the
singer's hypersexualized dance but finds qualities in the
star to commend. "She's the rare celebrity that actually
looks - oh, how do I put it - happy," writes Somarriba.
We can't write off all of pop culture, she said. "There are
always good things in our culture and I try to point them
The first issue, for June/July, will include a photo shoot of
tasteful swim suits; an article that asks, "Can girls and
guys be friends?"; a profile of a mother who balances career
with home life; wine tours on different budgets; and an
article on sex-trafficking survivors.
Monica Mastracco, a parishioner of St. Rita Church in
Alexandria, ordered a copy of Verily as soon as it
"Verily is refreshing," she said. "It's fun but with
an intelligent point of view. There's so much out there of
the same - gossip that breaks people down or builds them up
to inhuman proportions, stories of women who are overly
sexualized. This magazine is different. It's is truly a
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