Discovery Girls, a magazine for eight-to twelve-year-old girls “who are curious, strong, and enthusiastic about becoming the very best they can be,” is under fire for including a segment called “What Swimsuit Best Suits You?” in their latest issue. Look:
Hey @DiscoveryGirls, why not include diet tips/surgical options with this? Your readers are 9, after all. Tick tock. pic.twitter.com/5oJI4KqnM6
— Taffy Akner (@taffyakner) May 10, 2016
Thought I found a great mag for tween girls. Nope. I'm a pediatrician, this is awful! For 8 years+?? @DGmagazine pic.twitter.com/hxHt5HO2il
— 15 Minute Beauty (@15minbeauty) May 9, 2016
Yeah, take a long, hard look at that. In a magazine ostensibly meant for eight-year-old girls, there are tips for what type of swimsuit to wear “if you’re curvy up top” or “if you’re rounder in the middle.”
Now imagine a third-grader standing in front of her mirror, questioning if she is “rounder in the middle.” Imagine her consulting the magazine again. Imagine her reading that geometric prints will “draw the eye inward.”
Imagine her internalizing that. Imagine her shopping with her mother and hesitating over any shirt or dress that might not “draw the eye inward.” Imagine this preoccupation with drawing the ever-important eye of anyone who might look at her “inward” following her out of the formative years and into adulthood.
You don’t have to imagine it. We already know how often similar scenarios are playing out across America. Consider this, from Inquisitr:
[…]53% of 13-year-old girls don’t like the way they look, and that percentage skyrockets to 78% by the time they turn 17. Between 40% and 60% of children between the ages of 6 and 12 are worried about their weight, and 70% want to be thinner.”
We already know that advertisements and editorials can negatively impact girls’ self-esteem, but to see it starting in a magazine aimed toward young children is especially troublesome. Luckily, Discovery Girls, after being criticized sharply, is listening. Their publisher, Catherine Lee, issued the following statement on Facebook:
She wrote that the magazine made a mistake and assured readers that they would see even more effort to foster positive body image in young girls. Speaking as someone who once was one of those young girls who pored over magazines and absorbed every message — subliminal and overt — until it was almost impossible to find a body part that I didn’t want to completely overhaul, I hope they fix this mistake and fix it soon.
Our kids can’t afford for them to do anything less.