Focus on the Family Brings Back Christian Magazine for Teen Girls

Despite nineteen years of self-described success, Focus on the Family stopped producing Brio, its print magazine for teenage girls and their parents, in 2009 along with Breakaway, the equivalent publication for boys. Now, after an eight-year hiatus, Brio is back in full force.

Through its advice columns, monthly devotionals, and Q&A sections, the original Brio attempted to divert teenage girls’ attention from worldly issues to godly issues. At first glance, Brio’s articles about make-up, entertainment, and relationship advice looked similar to the offerings in other magazines for teenage girls, such as Elle Girl and Teen People. However, if you sat down and read the articles, one could clearly see the Christian messages, patriarchy, and opposition to both reproductive rights and premarital sex incorporated into almost every article. Unfortunately, these themes permeate the newly re-launched Brio as well.

According to the Focus on the Family website, the purpose of Brio magazine is to “bring teenage girls intriguing articles, godly role models, sound relationship advice, fashion tips, and more.” Bob DeMoss, vice president of Focus on the Family, reminds readers that “Brio is returning to the scene to offer young women a biblically based worldview.”

Brio magazine

While Brio’s main readership may be young women, they are certainly not the only group invested in its message. As a recent Slate article on its reboot noted, “Brio isn’t just for teenagers. It’s also for the adults who want to influence them.” Tellingly, one of the comments from the article stated, “If I had to choose between Brio and one of the teen magazines for my daughter, I would pick Brio, because I’m not ready to be a grandmother.” Seems she’s relying on abstinence-only language and sex-shaming tactics in an effort to prevent her daughter from having sex (good luck with that!). Another commenter on Brio’s website expressed just how happy she was to learn that Brio was coming back: “Puts this mom’s mind and heart a bit more at ease, knowing my daughter will have such a wonderful Christ-filled influence to look to during these hard years.”

As I continued to read all the comments on Brio’s return, I stumbled upon this one, “Hope to see Breakaway soon. My oldest son would read it and nothing else. Breakaway reached him and helped during his teenage years.” I wondered the same thing. With so much attention on gender-based violence and the push for equality, I wondered if Focus on the Family was planning to bring back Breakaway too, or would their patriarchal beliefs stand in the way, reminding us that women are the problem and therefore need more help?

In an attempt to find out the answer, I contacted Focus on the Family and posed the same question. The woman I spoke with on the phone informed me that they were not, at least within the foreseeable future, planning to re-launch Breakaway. “Do you know why not?” I asked her. She said she didn’t and that it was the only information she had. The definition of the word “brio” is “vigor; vivacity,” but the truth is that supporters of Focus on the Family and Brio advocate for a patriarchal society in which it is a female’s responsibility to cover up her body in order not to tempt males, to be pure and feminine at all times, and accept her subordinate role in society.

The new issue of Brio comes out on May 1, 2017 featuring Sadie Robertson, a member of the Duck Dynasty clan and outspoken critic of LGBTQ rights, on the cover.