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Faith, fashion and femininity online

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Women’s fashion and lifestyle magazines abound on the internet and in print, but there’s still a void in what those offer to women, according to the editor of a new online magazine launched by the global Catholic network

For Her was created specifically for women raised with strong values and a “strong sense of beliefs”; women who want to embrace their feminine style and nature, editor in chief Cynthia Dermody told Catholic News Service.

That “does not mean high collars, and long skirts – we’re on the runways in Paris, up on trends that are modern and beautiful and stylish, but it’s all kind of a style that represents a strong feminine elegance; style as a way of self-expression, rather than as a style to get attention”, she said.

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“If we were to describe what our fashion style is it is feminine, elegant, simple, natural. (There’s) a grace to the types of clothing we feature,” she added.

The magazine has sections on relationships, family, fashion and beauty, lifestyles, spirituality and well-being. Sub-categories cover faith, vocations, education, travel, kids and more.

In perusing the site, a visitor could find these recent headlines: “5 popular artists whose faith inspires their creativity”; “The faithful astronaut”; “13 baby names to honour Mary”; “Aysha’s journey: one refugee’s quest for a safe place”; “Jennifer Garner on life’s miracles: past, present and future”; “Saying ‘yes’ to a leap of faith”; “Protecting kids’ innocence in a digital age”; and “Chivalry and the millennial guy.”

“We come at (women’s issues) from a different place, from what is truly important in life,” said Dermody, a Catholic in her 40s.

“It’s not all about what makes us happy in the moment, but what sustains us for the long term, and that takes reflection, taking pause and reflecting on what those things are.”

A main section called “So Her!” is “really the DNA of our site, where you will find the articles and people that best exemplify who we are and who we target”, she said. “For instance, Angelina Jolie speaking with refugees. Erin Hempen helping to build schools for orphans in Africa. Model Madeline Stuart, the first professional model with Down syndrome.

“We have articles on manners and how to live with each other for the best possible life. Portraits of inspiring women. Great articles that speak to us and our mission of living a life of beauty and meaning.”

For Her is a welcome change for women when there is so much “negative and downer stuff on the web today, people sharing criticism and unfortunate stories”, Dermody said.

“We believe women are getting tired of that, especially women raised with spirituality. People need more beauty in their lives – big and small.”

She said For Her is aimed at women aged 25-55.

“We feel the content will appeal to Catholic women but we also feel this content is universal in so many ways … family values, looking for the meaning in life … these aren’t just values exclusive to Catholic women, so, yes, we want to appeal to Catholics but want all women to take notice and find the beauty and interest” in For Her.

There are favourite recipes, makeup tips, fashion news and home decor articles. Regarding interior design, Dermody said, “we’re showing real homes where real families live. (You’ll) see the family photos in these homes, see a beautiful crucifix on the wall if the family chooses to have one there, or a photograph of the pope”.
For Her wants to show “where people live and the artefacts of their life,” have their hobbies “show through”, highlight memories made during travel and treasures passed down, and feature paintings by family members.

“It gives it a different warmth than you typically see,” she said.

Dermody was a staff writer and editor at Reader’s Digest for a number of years and before that worked in newspaper journalism for several years. Most recently, she was at CafeMedia, formerly called CafeMom, a parenting site for women.

Dermody said she took the job with For Her because she was “very attracted to the challenge of really trying to offer something brand new. … I loved the challenge and the beauty behind that mission”.

As an editor, she wanted to be part “of something so gorgeous and visual and positive” and as a reader she felt “let down by the content in women’s magazines. I didn’t connect with it”.

She works with a team of editors in New York. For Her is currently in a public beta-testing mode and will be fully launched soon. Different international editions will be going live in the coming months.

Delving into the hot-button social issues of the day or covering topics like how to spice up one’s marriage are not going to be a focus of the magazine, she noted. Topics many women’s magazines cover today are “really very shallow”, she said.

For Her emphasises the “importance of community”, she said, and the staff hopes that is “something we can create with this magazine, approaching our tone and writing style in a way that is welcoming”.

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