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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As president of Girls, Inc., Lisa Moore is a tireless advocate for reading and empowerment.

“Anything a girl is reading is helping literacy skills. We want to encourage girls to read, often way to do that is with a magazine that’s of interest to them,” Moore said.

But she said that also means teaching girls to read critically so they know the difference between positive and negative messages.

“If they’re selling an image of what’s sexy, that’s not helpful. But to have information about what it means to be a healthy sexual being is not a bad thing,” Moore said.

But the group “Cosmo Hurts Kids” is using a billboard on Interstate 40 near Whitten Road to argue Cosmopolitan magazine takes it too far. Victoria Hearst runs Cosmo Hurts Kids; she’s the granddaughter of the man who started the magazine. The billboard plastered “Cosmopolitan magazine contains porn” for all drivers to see.

“It’s got sex ideas; ways to intrigue your boyfriend, make them happy, turn them to like you better. That’s the stuff I’ve seen in there,” Kristen Wiseman said. “It’s a shame to me.”

“I guess everyone’s opinion is diff depending who you ask. Me personally I don’t care,” Dameon Edwards said.

In fact, District Attorney Amy Weirich met with Hearst when she was in Memphis. Weirich said the meeting prompted her to remind stores to keep harmful materials to children partially covered and at a height of at least 5.5 feet.

But the content is everywhere: in magazines, television and the internet. Moore explained communication with girls goes a long way.

“What’s important is to have healthy conversations about what’s being read with young people in your life,” Moore said. “Ask, ‘What do you think of that cover?'”

She hopes a single billboard could at least spark a productive conversation to help young women across Memphis.

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