Teen magazine criticised for ‘inappropriate’ swimsuit spread for young girls

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A popular magazine for pre-teens has come under fire for a swimsuit spread which many felt sent the wrong message about body image

At first glance, there seems nothing wrong with a two-page spread in a pre-teen magazine asking their young readers in candy-coloured font to pick "What Swimsuit Best Suits You?”.

But, the publisher of Discovery Girls magazine drew the ire of many readers who felt that it was sending the wrong message.

Many felt that asking the magazine’s readers—most of whom are aged 8 to 13—to evaluate their bodies, based on whether they're "curvy on top", "straight up and down" or "rounder in the middle”, promoted body image issues that girls their age should not be subjected to.

As a widely read magazine who prides itself in being "the ONLY magazine ... that recognizes and celebrates the critical period as a girl moves from childhood to the teen years”, many were disappointed in the feature.

Dr. Robyn Silverman, a psychologist and body image expert, told TODAY: ”When girls see images that tell them that they need to look a certain way or hide areas of their bodies to feel valuable, they get the message that something might be wrong with their bodies.”

The founder and CEO of the magazine, Catherine Lee, sent her public apology through a statement to NBC News: "We want to make it clear that Discovery Girls does not promote nor support body-shaming. This article was intended to show that every body shape is acceptable, not that they should be ashamed of the shape they have.”

She also responded to the criticism on Facebook, saying: "For girls, Discovery Girls is a safe place where she can learn about herself and connect with other girls just like her who are going through the same types of challenges. With Discovery Girls, she'll know...she's not alone.”

Though it wasn't the magazine's intent, their controversial feature helped shed light on the need for the media to be vigilant because of their crucial role in shaping young girls' perception of beauty and body image.

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