Gone are the days when young girls only had to know their favorite color to decide which bathing suit was “right for them." Discovery Girls magazine, aimed at 8- to 12-year-old girls, published an article focused on what swimsuit would look “right” on their readers' bodies, their very prepubescent bodies. Because if you’re female, it’s never too early to start feeling bad about your body.
Their tips included creating shapes if they have no curves, distracting with patterns if they are “rounder," and drawing the eyes down and away if they are "curvy on top.” Sorry, but whose eyes? Whose eyes are looking at an 8- to12-year-old girl’s body, being offended by how the swimsuit fits her?
Naturally, many people were offended by the article and took to social media to express their concerns. Discovery Girls founder and publisher Catherine Lee addressed the issue on the Discovery Girls Facebook page, saying, “We want to make sure that our girls know that any article that makes you feel bad about your body is not a good article, and should be questioned.”
The editor then claimed she didn’t know about the article, saying, “It’s still hard for me to believe that an article so contrary to our magazine’s mission could have been published on our pages. I have been a loss for words for days.”
Lee said, “The article was supposed to be about finding cute, fun swimsuits that make girls feel confident, but instead it focused on girls’ body image and had a negative impact. Nobody knows better than Discovery Girls how impressionable our girls are at this age and we are ALWAYS mindful of this. We’ve received hundreds of thousands of letters over the years from girls sharing their insecurities about their bodies. We’ve been so concerned about helping girls have a healthy body image that we wrote an entire book, Growing Up, on puberty and body image.”
She then ended by saying, “As much we like to think that something like this would never happen to us, it did. We’re not immune to making mistakes, but we are always willing to get better and learn from our mistakes,” and, “Our girls need resources to provide them with the guidance they need to develop a healthy body image and love all that they are.”
Whether the statement will be a sufficient apology, the mishap only further confirms the pressure media puts on girls, starting at a younger and younger age, to be conscious of their bodies. Maybe we should just let kids be kids and start telling them that whether they are 8 or 88, clothes that "suit you best" are the ones you like the best. It's an important reminder to everyone to just wear what you want to wear and rock it.
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Courtney Bissonette is a New York based writer and improv comedienne. She writes primarily about movies, pop cultures and feminist heroes. She gets along best with old people. She has seen more old movies than your grandma, probably. Salt from Salt n Pepa once took her Trick'r Treating. You can follow her on instagram at @gddamnitcourtney or twitter @courttette