The Short of It
Discovery Girls magazine targets tweens ages 8 to 12 with an issue dedicated to finding the right bathing suit for their body types—and hiding their flaws.
In the feature that critics are saying promotes body shaming, tween girls are advised on how to buy swimsuits for a variety of body maladies. For instance, young ladies who are "rounder in the middle" should distract from their bellies with "busy geometrics" to "draw the eye inward," and if you're "curvy up top, coverage is key," and a bathing suit with "side ties and cutouts that draw the eyes down" is ideal.
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Not surprisingly, irritated parents and others are taking to social media to call out Discovery Girls for their head-scratchingly, age-inappropriate story.
The only tip girls need for swimsuit shopping: Buy whatever makes you happy and in which you can have the most fun https://t.co/nVNGOMkV5t— Rebecca Behrens (@rebeccabehrens) May 10, 2016
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Catherine Lee, publisher of Discovery Girls, took to Facebook to pen an open letter in response to the firestorm surrounding the bathing suit story. It reads, in part:
"First, I want to thank all the parents and my amazing readers who brought this swimsuit article to my attention. ... 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. ... 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."
"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. ... 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. [sic]"
I'll admit, as a mom of three daughters, it was tough for me to write this story without wanting to reach through the computer and slap whoever okayed this misguided feature. And I'm sorry, but it's hard to believe the publisher wouldn't have read what the magazine was publishing before it printed.
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But even if it is a mistake, the fact that anyone, anywhere, even dreamed up the idea that there are things about young girls' bodies they should feel shame about and try to hide or distract from, suggests we have a major problem as a society. It's bad enough grown women like me have to worry about covering our bellies or hiding our thighs when we buy bathing suits. Can we not shield our daughters from this ugly aspect of being a woman in this day and age just a bit longer? Or better yet, can media please focus on improving this part of our reality, instead of feeding into it?