I recently learned about posts regarding Girls’ Life magazine, which I had missed due to deadlines and intentionally avoiding the news for a time since the election. First off, I commend the co-founder of Reach3K, who originally posted and noted differences between Girls’ Life and Boys’ Life. However, as a Girls’ Life insider, I can tell you the issue of self-esteem and cover images have been discussed within and without the magazine’s staff– a lot!
The original Facebook article was addressed to “those on the masthead,” and as Book Editor since the magazine’s debut, my name has been on the masthead, too, and many excellent points are brought up, which relate exactly why I “lecture” my children on ethics in the media.
I commend writer Shoshanna Keats-Jaskoll, and I also LOVE the cover mock-up, created by graphic designer Katherine Young in her September 2016 Huffington Post article following the original Facebook post by Keats-Jaskoll.
The point is, oh yeah, the ENTIRE media industry can do better by girls, boys, and children in general. And I would also like to point out, the publishing industry has been and continues to evolve rapidly, and in case readers missed it, inappropriate images and content are EVERYWHERE! Coming up on 30 years in children’s publishing, discernment and responsibility in the media is something I have taught about, blogged about, and feel utterly passionate about–and I’ve been “lecturing” my children about since the internet became their daily reality. (See Responsibility in Children’s Publishing.)
Readers may be surprised, but much of Girls’ Life content comes directly from reader polls, asking subscribers what they want to read. And, many articles are actually written by teens, especially since implementing recent changes to the magazine, which specifically address content issues.
So parents, whether or not you want to hear it, your girls want to read about boys, makeup, drama and dating–as well as about sports, careers, succeeding through challenges, faith, and so much more!
As for the covers, Girls’ Life is a celebrity-driven magazine, and the covers usually include a young female celebrity who girls can look up to. Those in the industry know, in order to survive, magazines and publishers must meet the needs of their readers…
As book reviewer since its debut in 1994, I have looked for positive books to inspire and show strong characters, while looking for real, engaging content–plus great stories! I am proud of how Girls’ Life has evolved into a “literary” magazine, as evidenced in the advertising and books featured throughout every issue, as well as online reviews, fiction writing clubs, contests, quizzes, give-aways, and more.
Additionally, while at Zondervan, I worked with Girls’ Life editors to help create five books in the FaithGirlz series, plus Body and Soul, by Bethany Hamilton.
Believe me, discussions on girls’ body image were discussed a lot during the creations of these titles. Body and Soul is a fitness book designed and created for teens, by Bethany Hamilton and her professional trainer, aimed directly for teens. The entire book focuses on whole health for girls (and anyone), body, mind, and soul. Chapter seven in particular focuses on how the core of inner worth comes from much more than outer appearances.
Those in publishing, especially children’s publishing, need to be held to a higher standard (see above mentioned blogpost). As parents, we need to engage with our children, not shield them. Rather, find out what they’re reading, watching, and listening to, check it out (as in read, watch, listen), and then discuss.
I am a also a letter writer–plus a female journalist who firmly believes in our First Amendment rights, however, because we are able to freely express ourselves in America, the market is flooded with inappropriate material for children, and the only way the producers will take notice is if people use their voice. Children are learning about the media. To them, if it’s in writing, well then, it must be real. Which is why everyone should be discerning when it comes to sources of information via social media.
Because Freedom of Speech is a vital part of America’s foundation, as parents and educators, we shouldn’t “block” what we deem inappropriate, but rather, invite conversations with children about what media they’re into–books, social network sites, games, YouTube, everything!
Without assuming it will be horrible or henceforth banned, watch one of your kid’s favorite YouTube videos–you may find a new favorite! I’ve found some great sites thanks to my kids (shoutout #SuperWoman #NigaHiga #BrianRegan).
Play an online game (Minecraft is excellent!), do connect and friend your children’s friends on social networks. Laugh together at some of the great content available, and then talk about what you like and don’t like. By engaging with my kids in this way, I’ve had some great conversations. But I’ve also had difficult conversations I would rather have come later. I’m just thankful the kids are willing to share their “finds” with me.
To parents, educators, and adults with children in their lives, engaging with kids where they “are” creates an open door for future dialog. Seeing what is important to your kids validates and encourages them, making them more comfortable asking further questions–knowing they’re not going to be immediately condemned. And a path is provided, leading to talks about what’s appropriate or not, what’s real or not, or why something goes against your personal or family beliefs. Without going on too long (I’ve mentally kept my “opines” to a minute or less), each conversation leads to further knowledge and questioning, more knowledge leads to interest and self-motivation, which in turn helps kids develop their own opinions and discernment regarding media.
Using our voices is a right in America that more people need to practice. I commend those who take the extra step and actually write letters. I’m glad to see people waking up to what girls are reading and viewing. My frustration, however, is why now? Why the sudden big interest? Did it take scandals of harassed women to make people take note?
And to all the men who have comments regarding the content in Girls’ Life, have you taken the time to write to our newly elected president about his viewpoints on the self-esteem of young girls and women? Another area where I have MANY strong opinions. And I guarantee, this female journalist, blogger, reviewer, and writer will be engaged in letter-writing on multiple levels.
I encourage readers to keep the letters flowing. If you’ve got to start somewhere, how about here and now?
All Things Faithgirlz!
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