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Should Christian Girls Read Cosmo, Seventeen, and Glamour Magazine?

By: Kristen Clark

Earlier this year I noticed a shockingly explicit women’s magazine in the checkout aisle at my grocery store. The cover featured a woman who would have been completely nude, except for a few strategic camera angles and hand placements.

I called my grocery store headquarters to talk with the person in charge of the magazine displays. Our phone conversation lasted for over 30 minutes. I asked him questions and heard his answers for why a “family friendly grocery store” publicly displayed such offensive material.

At one point during our conversation he actually told me that he finds many of the magazines offensive himself, but doesn’t have the power to remove them because “they sell.”

“People love that stuff,” he said. “And if people are buying it, we’re gonna sell it.”

Near the end of our conversation he promised me one thing: “I can’t remove the magazines,” he said, “but I can work towards implementing blinders for the explicit ones.”

Thanks,” I told him. “That’s better than nothing.”

As I think back on my conversation with that manager, I’m struck by what he said…“These magazines sell.” 

That’s the bottom line. They sell. And as long as women are buying them, companies are going to keep producing them.

The scandalous celebrity stories, sex advice, superficial beauty tips and perfectly airbrushed models appeal to us, as modern women.

Christians and non-christians alike are enticed and lured in by the strategically designed covers and images.

I’ll admit that magazines like Cosmo, Seventeen, and Glamour do an incredible job at grabbing my attention in the checkout line. They’re designed to draw us in. They’re intended to appeal to our flesh.

But as enticing as these popular magazines are, we need to ask the obvious question. Are they actually helpful and beneficial for women to read? And as Christian women specifically, are they Christ honoring and beneficial for our spiritual souls?

Before I tell you what I think, check out what some popular non-Christian women have to say about these types of magazines. 

Linda Kelsey of the UK Daily Mail said,“I am shocked, bewildered and disgusted by what has happened to women’s magazines since the days when the weeklies were the cosy end of the market, all about knitting patterns and 50 ways with leftovers.”

The former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine even published an article titled: “Degrading, disgusting, and demeaning: I’m ashamed of modern women’s magazines.”

Many Christian and non-Christian women alike are now seeing the garbage of modern women’s magazines.

Now I want to share with you 7 reasons why I think Christian girls (or any girl!) shouldn’t read Cosmo, Seventeen, or Glamour Magazine: 

1. Degrades Women. 

The version of beauty that women’s magazines presents today is nothing short of a scantily dressed woman whose worth and value is based solely on her curves. These magazines objectify females by selling their images (i.e. their bodies) for a profit.

2. Praises Promiscuity.

There are no sexual boundaries when it comes to modern women’s magazines. Anything goes. They’re known for featuring edgy female celebrities on the front covers accompanied by articles that celebrate a promiscuous life.

3. Glamorizes Sex Outside of Marriage.

Teen Vogue recently published an entire article praising, applauding, and normalizing teen homosexual sex. That’s right. Teen Vogue. This magazine which is targeted primarily at pre-teens and teens is no longer talking about your summer wardrobe and lipstick selection. Homosexual sex and heterosexual sex is encouraged and promoted as a normal part of teenage life.

4. Loves Abortion.

A while back Cosmo launched a campaign called #CosmoVotes where they encouraged their readers to vote for certain “qualified” political female candidates. In order for a political candidate to quality, however, they HAD to be pro-choice and pro-birth control pill. If a woman was pro-life, she was immediately disqualified. Modern women’s magazines love sex without bounds and they love abortion on demand.

5. Promotes Radical Independence.

Whether you’re still living at home or off on your own, these magazines encourage all girls to be completely independent of their families. Instead of encouraging you to ask your parents, your pastor, or a wiser older person for advice, these magazines jump in to fill the mentor gap. They push girls and women to be totally independent, career driven females who “don’t need anyone telling them what to do.”

6. Glorifies Gossip.

Females have a knack for gossiping and women’s magazines know it. Whether they’re criticizing a celebrity’s cellulite, giving juicy details about a recent scandal or mocking the red carpet fashion, they know how to entice their readers. Despite the damaging effects of gossip, modern magazines are pros at chewing people up and spitting them out.

7. Rejects God.

This is the most important factor of all. Almost everything that modern women’s magazines promote is anti-God. They encourage teens and women to rebel in every way against God’s design for them. They’re unashamedly breaking God’s laws with no apology.

By now, I hope you’re convinced that magazines like Cosmo, Seventeen, and Glamour are dishonoring to God and not worthy of putting before your eyes.

Instead of conforming to the culture we need to echo the words of David from Psalm 101:3, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.”

As Christian girls we’re called to be set apart (holy) from our secularized culture.

Our heart’s desire should be to honor and respect God in every way possible.

Don’t fall for the headlines. Don’t take part in the gossip. Don’t be curious. Just say no. When it comes to modern women’s magazines, let’s reject them together and instead say,  “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

If you like magazines there are some great substitutions out there! I recommend checking out these two options:

  1.  SetApart Girl Magazine by Leslie Ludy is full of color, stories, practical tips, spiritual encouragement for the Christian girl’s life.
  2. Life:Beautiful Magazine is another great option for the modern Christian girl who’s looking for encouragement, tips, recipes, and fun columns.

What about you?

  • Do the front covers of worldly magazines like Cosmo, Seventeen, and Glamour make you curious? If so, what is it that captivates you?
  • Are you willing to say “no” to your fleshly desires and reject these magazines?

Photo Credit 

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  • Janise

    Thank you. I am really enjoying your articles. They make me think.

  • Brooklyn Mikinzie

    I’ve never read a Cosmo magazine in my life, but the covers make my stomach hurt.
    I’ve seen the warning signs that say its a bad magazine.
    I hate Cosmo.

  • CT

    I love the SetApart Girl magazine! Now only if I had a chunk of time to devour it!

    • CT

      After reading your post this morning, I took a few tracts with me to the grocery store and stuck one in Seventeen magazine near the checkout aisle today 🙂

  • Ellie Grace

    I’ll be honest…if a cosmo magazine just fell into my lap, I would want to read it. I would feel guilty (especially after reading this post), but I think I would really be drawn to it. Sexual things are my weakness. Thanks for the good post.

  • Joana Mae Pongasi

    thanks for this!! I am not into magazine actually, especially like kind’a Cosmo magazines out there..
    Actually someone communicate me through twitter, Facebook, Gmail..
    And saying she wants to be friend with me..
    But as I browse her twitter and Facebook page, She is a model and has Scoliosis too..
    I kind’a seem to notice, her post as a model is an almost naked to my view. It’s okay to me that she is a model, but the way I see it she seduces guys around her.

    I convict and encourage her that as what you said, “As Christian girls we’re called to be set apart (holy) from the lost world around us.”
    And then I recommend this post you have to her..
    I hope she would read this post of yours..
    Another love love post you have, continue to do so.. ^_^

  • Kate

    Great post! I love how you offered alternatives like suggesting SetApart, and I applaud you in your boldness and faithfulness for calling your grocery store.

    I think the last bit really gets to the heart: “In conclusion, should we hate Cosmo magazine? Yes. Should we hate the
    people who create it? No. We should pray for the lost and desire that
    they come to know Jesus as their personal Savior. We should pray that they become workers of light instead of workers of darkness.”

    It’s so important to pray for those walking in darkness and encouraging others to do the same- that they may come to the light through Christ!

  • Elizabeth

    See, it’s magazines like this that send the wrong messages to girls. It’s crazy because they want to tell you that you don’t need a man to define you or complete you, but yet they contradict themselves by giving you tips on how to get a guy’s attention and what guys want girls to look like, etc. And YES, setapartgirl and anything Leslie Ludy is an awesome substitute!

  • Olivia Chambers

    You did a wonderful job on this post!

  • Ana

    Cosmo, Latina, Glamour, and Seventeen are all vulgar filth. I have gathered up all of my teen daughter, Veronicas’ Latina and Cosmo and shredded them up and burned them. These magus make great Kindling. I loathe this fashion trash because they feature Young models and Stars that tweens and Young ladies adore just to sell their trashy magazines. Well this magazines are not welcome in my home.

  • Angelica

    I love this article, Kristen. Thank you so much for writing and sharing your ideas. This made me feel so much better about myself! For months, I have been trying to search for a feminist website that lines up with my faith and morals. Not to mention, I was also trying to find someone who dislikes Cosmo magazine just as much as I do. This magazine, along with many others, are poisoning young girls’ minds and it’s so saddening. Now, they even have a news section on Snapchat, where millions of young girls can access these raunchy, distasteful news articles. They use the worst headlines too; they are often of a very strong sexual nature or just plain degrading to women.

    It’s almost like this magazine praises having no morals/values or limits, and ENCOURAGES and almost pressures young girls to be promiscuous. It’s almost like the woman that chooses to be the around-the-way or “good girl” type female is kicked to the curb with this and several other “feminist” magazines. I mean, some of these “sexual exploration” articles, as you mentioned, encourage women to be unfaithful in relationships and even marriage. I mean, there has to be a point where people stop and evaluate their decisions, where they say, “okay, this is just not the right thing to do.” What really makes me upset, is that so many young girls think this is REAL feminism. They think that in order to be a feminist, one must be the “anything goes” type person. And it’s sad.

    During the course of the few months that I did read this magazine, which is supposed to “empower women” being that it identifies as a feminist magazine, I actually felt like it was knocking me down rather than lifting me up. I felt my self esteem lowering, my depression skyrocketing, and my faith shaking. It made me question if being a Christian women was obsolete in today’s society. It made me feel like I was a frigid prude because I didn’t do all of the things women in this magazine did. It made me feel like, “hey, maybe I should just loosen up, and be promiscuous for once. Why can’t I do that?” It made me feel less validated in this world, less important. All in all, it was just a terrible feeling.

    But I realized that a magazine that does this to women is not a feminist magazine at all. And that’s when I felt better. Feminism is not about sexuality, promiscuity, or being better than men. Feminism includes all women from all walks of life, regardless of any of the details mentioned above. What feminism REALLY entails is showing that women have power and a voice in this world, regardless of anything. It is supporting the fact that we contribute so much to this world, more than we can ever imagine, solely because of our biological makeup. That, to me, is the definition of true feminism.

  • Anna

    I do not agree with these magazines and don’t read them.

    But I am pro choice (I would protest and if there would be no result, move to another country if that right would be taken from me), even though I never had an abortion in my life.
    That is one of the reasons many women leave Poland and emigrate to Germany.

    Nobody loves abortion. That is just your stupid view and idea. We just want the freedom to have that painful option if everything else fails.

    • Sabea

      The “freedom” to have your own child killed? There is nothing freeing about having an abortion. In fact, it will only ever lead to more pain, more grief, more darkness, more separation from God – because abortion is evil and it is a sin. It separates us from God. No matter what the circumstances, God does not allow us to kill. Having an abortion, even supporting abortion, are punishable acts in the eyes of God, because they deny that He is the Sole Creator – only He can create life, and only He can take it away.
      Anna, I really pray that you change your viewpoint away from what the world thinks about abortion, and see it for what it really is – genocide of the unborn child. Sin is sin. No man could stand before God and defend abortion.

      • Rainbow_sprinkles7

        The point is that each woman should be able to decide what to do with HER body. There are lots of reasons why women get abortions and it’s a very personal decision. If you are not in the situation you cannot judge. You can do what you feel is best for yourself, but you don’t get to make that decision for anyone else. Not everyone is a Christian, and not everyone is going to have your same beliefs.

        • Val

          I don’t think that abortion is a matter of faith: sure one can oppose it with faith-based arguments, that are useful when talking to other believers but not that useful when talking with someone who doesn’t share our faith.

          We might agree that a woman can do what she wants with her body, but it is her body to begin with? The fetus is in her body and needs her to survive but it is not part of her body, it is a distinct being. Saying that the fetus is her body because it is in her body it is like saying that if I am in the hospital attached to machines that help me survive I’m part of the building.

          If the fetus is not part of the body then it is another being, a human being, that deserves to be protected. I’m not saying that it is easy to deal with an unexpected pregnacy, I’ve seen that in my own family: it is hard, sometimes very very hard, and the State (and private citizens too) should help expectant mothers it order to help them as much as possible, they should not be left alone.

          By saying that abortion should be against the law I’m somehow telling other people what to do, or more exactly I think that the State should do so, as it does all the time, since law tells people what to do and punishes those who don’t conform to it.

          • Rainbow_sprinkles7

            The arguments that Sabes was using were faith based, that’s why I was arguing against that. Of course there should be laws, and The State should “tell people what to do ” for order but it should not have control over women’s bodies. Period.
            As a nation we are never going to agree on this issue. It will never be “decided as right our wrong”. You are making it a black and white issue and it’s just not.
            Everyone CAN decide for themselves. This is America! As long as we don’t hurt anyone else we can live however We want. (We can argue that it hurts the fetus etc, but that’s a whole nother thing that we’re never going to agree on). If our choices don’t affect anyone else, as in this case, we shouldn’t care. Because WE ARE NOT AFFECTED. (You can make one of your slightly off comparisons here and say that it does affect the fetus, but again, we’re never going to agree) if a man is beating his wife, that is affecting her and he should be arrested. If a woman for whatever reason is choosing to have an abortion, it is dealing with her own body and she should be able to make they decision that she feels is best for her.

    • Hannah B

      Anna, Sabea said it perfectly but I wanted to add something.
      I was a volunteer at a pro-life crisis pregnancy clinic. I saw the damage of abortions, the fear they caused in women who weren’t sure, and I saw the JOY, and Happiness in the women who kept there babies. I also saw pain from women who choose otherwise.

    • Val

      I don’t think that anyone loves abortion, per se, or at least the majority of the women who want the possibility to have one don’t love it, but even as a last option I believe it is wrong.
      In the end everything comes down to this: is the fetus a human being? Because if it is so no reason, no situation, would ever justify suppressing him. I’m not blind to the fact that sometimes keeping the baby (even for just nine months of pregnancy) requires strength and sometimes even heroism, but I believe that an innocent life should always be protected.

  • Saira

    I do understand that people do such things to gain profit. People value money in most cases than valuing their chastity. It is a poor thing that society promotes such magazines to gain people’s attention by displaying nude pictures.

  • Emma A

    Some of the most heroic women in the Bible were “radically independent”, like Ruth and Naomi. I don’t see how being independent interferes with a woman’s sense of faith. No one chastises men for being “too independent”. Women in that time period would have HAD to be independent, to help farm the land, care for their families, even plan for possible tribal conflicts/ Invaders. Yes they were usually married but the long-standing idea that ancient Hebrew/semetic (or biblical I suppose) were dependent is a misconception.

    • Shanae B

      You should probably go through a study book on the book of Ruth and reread the actual book of Ruth before you make any more comments like these. 🙂

      • Emma A

        Ruth marrying Boaz doesn’t negate the fact that she first worked in the fields, and made the decision on her own to follow Naomi rather than return to her family in Moab as was the norm. She made her own decisions and did what she thought was right, including marrying Boaz. I don’t understand why people assume that being married means you have to lose all sense of independence. And Ruth isn’t the only example. What would have happened if Esther had just quietly gone along with her husband’s orders, rather than revealing herself as a Jew and advocating for her people? Mary Magdalene was unmarried but she was one of Jesus’ most devout followers. It was Judith and her handmaid you created and executed the plan to slay the invader Holofernes. But hey, come back when you’ve reread the Bible, in English AND in Hebrew, as I recommend.

        • Shanae B

          Outside of Judith who isn’t in the Bible (and shouldn’t have been mentioned because she isn’t mentioned in the original Hebrew either). None of these women were independent of God. Nor did they want to be. Weather they were married or not had nothing to do with anything else. These magazines want to promote total independence, especially from God, among other things. So quit being vindictive, offensive, and offended.

          • Saltasaurus

            How is she being vindictive though. Or offensive. Nothing you’re saying makes sense Shanae.

          • Shanae B

            🙂

  • Shanae B

    When I turned 21 I for reasons unknown recieved a free one year subscription to Glamor magazine. So it wasn’t just in stores or waiting rooms it actually came to my house in the mail. It was hard not taking a peek. I was so glad when they stopped coming! It gave me unrealistic expectations about myself and relationships (even with family and friends). And it was very not good for my thought life. Thanks for so much for speaking out about these magazines!

  • Miriam

    Just wanted to mention that Focus on the Family has recently started publishing a new magazine called Brio for teen girls. It has articles on fashion, makeup, celebrities, fun, faith and so on. It’s a great alternative for Christians.

    • Shanae B

      Brio actually isn’t new (unless they’ve redone it). But I loved reading it and one called Brio and beyond back in the early 2000’s!!! Was an awesome alternative to seventeen or teen vogue!

      • Miriam

        They stopped publishing in 2009, but they started up again this May and have released a few issues. I got a subscription and am really enjoying it.

        • Shanae B

          I didn’t know they had discontinued it (that explains why I stopped being able to find it shortly after I graduated high school). So glad it’s made a comeback! So thankful to have had it during my teen years!

  • Leana

    Thank you for another wonderful column Kristen!
    I have to ask advice… my daughter is 8 and she LOVES cooking, and the magazine I just found called (I believe) Bake It! isn’t too bad… but on those lines, I’m looking for a nice magazine / style read for her (I already have Project Modesty on our Wish List 🙂 )

  • Maja Ćorić

    It’s both my sadness and my fortune, that I was not surrounded by those magazines as I have been growing up in this part of the world.
    Sure, we longed for having magazines in our hands (some managed to get the “Bravo” magazine, from Germany, and all the people in those magazines seemed odd to me). As we grown up, our market opened to new “opportunities” and we were suddenly flooded by all sorts of female-oriented magazines.. but, when you grow up NOT having them, you keep the “not buying” idea in your head. Of course, I have seen them, I know them. I know their content.
    Do I agree with it? No. (but, I stand here, saying that is my own choice). It is an ever-present question of weather to let girls see teen-friendly magazines that teach them “ten commandments of lip gloss”, or “make him run for you”, so that they can wear the juiciest lip gloss while luring the boy in. 😀
    (sorry, but I was raised differently, and making choices was part of the parental guidance in my home)
    It’s a new world, I suppose.
    It has new struggles.
    It brings some hard choices upon us, because I’ll dare say this: the family gets shocked when they find a pornographic magazine in the boy’s room – because they haven’t yet got the knowledge about the contents of magazines aiming girls (those have evolved, and not all evolution is good).

  • No

    No they shouldn’t read or buy those magazines….
    Unless you want a dirty mind, greif and etc.

  • Rose

    Being pro choice doesn’t mean you love abortion. That’s such a untrue manipulative thing to say.


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