Teen Magazine Review: Breakaway & Brio

Today I was at church working on a video with our tech director. (Will be posted soon, I promise it’ll be sweet!) While it was rendering, I spent some time in our coffee shop and along with having some great conversation with CFC’s resident barista, I perused several copies of Breakaway and Brio that happen to be to reside at Solid Ground.

Breakaway is for the guys and Brio is for the gals. Because I had more than a year’s worth of issues for each, I started to ask myself these questions:

What assumptions do these magazines make about gender?

How are they marketing masculinity and femininity in a Christian context?

I’m happy to say that both magazines put forth a positive display in both of these realms.

What I liked about Breakaway:

  • Variety of male role models were featured (Baseball players, Skaters, Surfers, Bands and Fathers) Skinny guys and no-neck guys are all “manly” men in Breakaway’s eyes.
  • Emphasized health with tips how to exercise properly
  • This article on dealing with bullies was well written with an intriguing narrative.
  • This article on how to get girls was pure genius. The author’s insight into what women (or in this case girls) truly want was uncanny. You should read it now and start applying it to your marriage.

What I liked about Brio

  • Variety of women/girls featured (I got the feeling that looking at the pictures of females in this magazine over time would not permanently damage my daughters’ self worth.)
  • The magazine made everyday “average” girls heroes.
  • Brio was how my wife was introduced to MxPx back in 1995.

What I didn’t like about Breakaway and Brio

  • The heavy premise that teens should date. The odds of marrying your high school bf/gf is so ridiculously slim that encouraging teens to date is equally ridiculous. Breakaway was slathered with dating advice that would be better spent on husbands, encouraging them to date their wives, rather than leading boys into situations of temptation that will set them up for moral failure.
  • They believe only boys like music. Breakaway featured a band on about every 3rd magazine cover. Brio featured only one band, Barlow Girls, in the course of a year and half’s worth of issues. Apparently Brio has lost its cool in the last 12 years.
  • Despite good pictures, Brio still assaults girls’ self worth. The emphasis on beauty, as the world defines it, was overwhelming. Brio totes the conflicting hypocritical messages “God made you, you are beautiful the way you are” and “You are desperately ugly and need to change.” Multiple articles even encouraged girls to get laser surgery to remove hair.

The Final Synopsis

I enjoyed my brief look at these magazines. I felt they contained well written articles with professional layout and graphic design.

When my daughters become teens will I let them read Brio? Absolutely. Much like all art, the answer is not censorship but open and honest communication. Debriefing the assumptions put forth in the media your children are exposed to can go a long way towards a healthy view of self and God.

What do you like/dislike about teen magazines?

7 Responses to “Teen Magazine Review: Breakaway & Brio”

  1. 1 Lewis July 25, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Yeah, I always loved Breakaway as a kid. They’ve usually done a good job.

    I’ve never admitted it before, but I used to sneak my sister’s Brio when she was done with it (so she wouldn’t know it was missing). I also wanted to check and see what the mag was telling the girls to do if they liked a boy. That way, I could tell better and recognize flirtatious behavior.

    But now, I see your point about pushing the boyfriend/girlfriend thing. It is kind of sad that they say you need one (and they’ve done that for years and years and years). At least they’re trying to approach it fairly Biblically in terms of morals, ethics, and appropriate boundaries.

    When I read it, the music thing was just really getting started. Back then, it seemed every cover was some kind of sports dude. It was fun finding out the athletes and entertainers who professed a Christian worldview. Good stuff over all.

  2. 2 mandythompson July 26, 2007 at 9:27 am

    many of the teen girls that i’ve discipled LOVE brio…. and i think they’ve even participated in a summer mission trip/retreat/thingy that brio led.
    i think its a great magazine that offers a counter-cultural resource for christian teenagers.

  3. 3 Sarah Chia July 26, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    I think it’s funny that Brio still has the same logo that it had when I stopped reading. (It did change logos during my high school years, as I recall.)

    I’m not sure how I feel about the beauty stuff and the dating stuff. It’s kinda like…if parents are instilling a purity in their kids, the magazine is at least helping them to keep dating just dating and not sex. But if parents are trying to instill a courtship ideal for their kids, then the magazine isn’t helping in that.

    As for the beauty tips…yeah… laser hair removal is a bit extreme, although I’d totally do it if I had $500 to blow and no conscience. But I don’t think the point is “you’re ugly, you need to change.” I think it’s “You’re beautiful. Here’s how you can feel beautiful.”

  4. 4 blu August 5, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    I still read brio and I agree with a lot of what you said.

    I like reading it in general, and get stuff out of it, but there’s a bunch of material inside that I don’t really see the point of. Sometimes it seems like they try too hard to be like other teen magazines with things like quizzes and beauty tips that are, at least in my opinion, totally pointless.
    I have found it encouraging, though, that brio is trying to listen to the other girls like me. Lately they’ve had a reader-response type section where I’ve seen this opinion voiced over and over.
    It was especially great after an issue that featured the artists Aly & A.J. Their faces were drowning in makeup and they looked totally washed-out and fake. The issue afterwards was overflowing with girls crying out against the hypocrisy brio was presenting through it. Ever since this reader-response section was added, I’ve found that brio is much nicer to read knowing that I’m not the only one, and that brio is willing to change for us readers.

  5. 5 Danielle September 29, 2007 at 6:38 am

    I am 12 and receive Brio Magazine. I agree with what you said about articles focusing on dating. I don’t plan to date — my parents have talked to me about courtship, and that’s the way I want to go. Sometimes I do get concerned for girls who may not understand courtship and think dating is okay. Maybe I’ll write a letter to Brio! Thanks for saying something about this.

  6. 6 Billy Chia September 29, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Awesome! It is a smart move for you and your parents are talking about dating. My wife and I went through a “courtship” type of time before we did any kind of “dating” and this is a huge reason why our marriage is successful now.

    Being Married is not only wonderful, it’s also really really hard. The choices you are making today will make it easier and better for you later. You are already showing your future husband how much you love him by how you act today.

  7. 7 Trina October 4, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Brio is a great magazine to read! It definitely helps you with your walk with God. 🙂

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