YOUNG VOICES

Faith Feminism And Fashion: The Christian Women's Magazine Breaking Every Stereotype

28/11/2014 10:39 | Updated 28 November 2014

Faith, feminism and fashion; three words you don't usually hear in the same sentence - and a perception the newly launched bi-annual Magnify magazine is trying to change.

The Christian publication appears to be breaking every stereotype out there, and turning the idea the religion is stuffy, unfashionable and sexist on its head.

Magnify was started by Ruth Yimika Awogbade in 2009 as a series of events, and has since evolved into a platform with digital content and now, a magazine. Despite the magazine's first print edition only being released in November of this year, 10,000 copies were printed to cater to demand and Ruth says there has already been an "overwhelming" response.

ruth yimika awogbade

Ruth Yimika Awogbade started running Magnify events when she was 19

"Just this week I was emailed by two readers who had been reading their copies on the trains and total strangers had asked for their copy as they were so captivated by the little they saw," the 26-year-old tells The Huffington Post UK.

Ruth studied politics at Durham University before landing a job with Burberry. But the British-Nigerian says she lost her faith after her grandmother, auntie and uncle died within three years of each other.

"They were three of the most energetic and encouraging people in my life who I had contact with on a daily basis."

The tragic events, she says, affected her "profoundly".

"It shook my faith. I couldn't understand how a God who I thought was loving, and who so many in my family had invested in building a relationship with, and prayed to, seemed to be absent and let these terrible things happen in such quick succession."

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The first issue of Magnify

In 2007, shortly after her uncle died, Ruth started university, and threw herself into the "whole student lifestyle and excesses it can sometimes bring".

"It was a way to escape the daily reality of the pain of bereavement and I definitely wanted to put the idea of God out of my life."

Returning home after the first term of university gave Ruth the opportunity for some time out. "I had space to think about who I wanted to be and what I wanted my life to be about," she explains.

"I felt like a light gradually switched on in my head. I realised that true faith couldn't always be dependent on whether everything always went well in life as the minute things didn't go well I'd throw my faith away and that was quite a rocky way to live.

"I realised I wanted to get know God personally for myself and it was the most amazing time - having this new perspective."

Ruth says having the space and freedom to explore her religion at her own pace was "incredibly refreshing", and, as a result, helped her reconnect with God.

"I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulder - I didn't have to carry the burden of grief on my own and actually a relationship with God was a lifetime journey - there was no point I had to arrive at immediately."

It was this journey of discovery that inspired Ruth to start Magnify.

"Finding a personal faith for myself and understanding my passions, such as communication and creativity, could have a bigger purpose was exciting.

"At 19 [when Ruth launched Magnify], I felt a real desire to give my friends and other women the chance in a relaxed and authentic way to have the space to explore the Christian faith.

"I wanted to give women the chance to see how faith could have a positive impact in every area of our lives. When I discovered my own faith it felt authentic and relevant to my life as a young woman and I wanted to share that in an engaging and unpressurised way.

One of Ruth's visions is to prove to women Christianity can be integrated with their lives as females and their passions.

"There are extreme versions of fashion, faith and feminism, but I think we offer a refreshing balance.

"I think there are still stereotypes of faith that can be negative," she concedes, "but through Magnify I hope we can show authentic stories that the Christian faith is still relevant and engaging in today's world."

Obviously with any faith, it needs to be able to stand the test of time - and be able to be adapted to modern day life. Can Christianity - with all its traditions, allegations of sexism and older followers - really be modernised?

"I think can often appear very serious and heavy," Ruth admits. "But the more I've grown in my faith, I find that reading the Bible and observing the life of Jesus, makes the meaning of Christianity so clear and applicable to modern day life.

"I hope by profiling real people in Magnify who enjoy life, are engaged with culture, love to have a laugh and are passionate, will help challenge perceptions."

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