American magazine Discovery Girls was recently slammed for publishing a swimsuit spread teaching girls how to select bathing suits based on their size. The magazine, which has a circulation of 900,000, faced backlash from parents who believed that the spread was a far cry from the mission of Discovery Girls – to “give girls ages eight and up the advice, encouragement, and inspiration they need to get through those difficult preteen years.”
In the latest issue of the magazine, girls who are “curvy up top” were told that “coverage is key” and that they must select pieces that “draw the eyes down.” Girls who are “straight up and down,” on the other hand, must opt for swimsuits with asymmetrical straps that could “add curves.” Those “rounder in the middle” were advised to shop for big block patterns.
Discovery Girls founder and publisher Catherine Lee admitted that she was shocked upon seeing the article. She issued a statement and apology on the magazine’s Facebook page.
“I am in total agreement with all of you regarding this article, so much so that I wanted to make this letter as public as possible. 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.”
She said the article was contrary to what their magazine stands for. She did not detail how the article ended up in the magazine. She believed the article should have revolved around “finding cute, fun swimsuits that make girls feel confident, but instead it focused on girls’ body image and had a negative impact.”
The founder went on to say that her team is determined to help girls attain a healthy body image, the reason that inspired them to write a book entitled Growing Up. “The book, which took over five years to write, was a labor of love. We worked with so many writers, editors, and over 20,000 girls and their parents, too,” she explained.
— Gabriella Coleman (@BiellaColeman) May 13, 2016
However, many parents and caregivers felt that her apology did not suffice. A mother named Buffy Seidel thinks that the apology is nothing but a mere promotion for the book. For her, it would have been more acceptable if the founder included the next steps they’d take to address the issue.
“While you continue to learn from your mistakes, our girls are only nine once. You obviously are NOT ‘always mindful of this.’ Your apology does not say anything about what you discovered regarding how this swimsuit article got included, nor what actual steps are you taking to keep such articles from being included. Instead you just advertise your book. Who got fired, reprimanded, etc. What happened to the editor who let this article go through? What kind of actions will you pursue? Without this sort of action plan, your ‘apology’ is just n advertisement that says to us, ‘Ignore the people behind this magazine please.'”
Another mother, Carolyn Toomey Jackson, commented that a girl’s confidence shouldn’t be reliant on her appearance, and it was irresponsible for Discovery Girls to endorse such idea.
“I’m really not sure how a ‘mistake’ of this magnitude sneaks through. Moreover, why would you even want to publish the original article about ‘cute, fun swimsuits that make girls feel confident? WHY perpetuate the idea that a girl’s APPEARANCE, particularly in a swimsuit, has something to do with her confidence? Disgusting. As a mother of a girl, this ‘mistake’ will prevent me from ever supporting this publication. It also makes me very, very sad for the future of our girls.”
For mother Linda Martin, Discovery Girls should not apologize on Facebook. She thinks it is only fair for the magazine to redo the feature, apologize to its young readers, and make them feel that they can enjoy their favorite activities without worrying about another’s judgment.
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