Always #Keep It Real: New Moon Girls Lead

We Never Photoshop Girls or Women

Media by and about and supportive of real girls is why New Moon Girls exists. That sums up our mission and our work. Our passion and our vision, year in and year out.

It’s why my daughters and I created the print magazine led by the Girls Editorial Board way back in 1992. It’s why we added the safe social network in 2008 and the e-magazine in May.

It’s why we’ve never photoshopped an image of a girl or woman.  NEVER.  And we never will.

Miss Representation, Spark Summit, I Am That Girl and LoveSocial launched the #KeepItReal campaign to tell other magazines–the vast majority of magazines–that they should pledge to publish one feature per issue with non-photoshopped images.

We support the campaign wholeheartedly. Change in mega-media is greatly needed and very welcome. At the same time we don’t want the attention focused on the problem of mega-media to miss the significance that New Moon Girls and a few others have always done the right thing by not photoshopping.

Why have we gone against the industry norm and never photoshopped? Because a photoshopped image weakens the believability of any article it accompanies. I can’t trust an article about “feeling confident” when it includes photos of airbrushed, flawless-looking girls.

Girls can’t trust those articles either. And seeing them in magazine after magazine can sadly make a tween or teen girl question her own accurate perception of reality. The photoshopped images undermine the nurturing and healthy messages that the magazines claim they are putting forward.

See how 12-year-old Ava says it affects her. 

Instead, New Moon Girls uses photos and illustrations of girls as they are in daily life. We know how important it is for girls to see themselves and others like them in the media that influences their thoughts and dreams.

As the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media says, “If She Can See It, She Can Be It.”  Of course, when what girls see is photoshopped fake perfection, they can never “be it.” And we don’t want them to!

New Moon Girls helps girls accept and value themselves for who they are–imperfections and all. They CAN be what they see in our publications and on our social network. It’s true and it’s real. Always.

Girls deserve nothing less. And our goal is to give them everything they deserve to get from media: inspiration, support, community, new perspectives, more understanding of the world, articles and images that respect them and give them courage.

See what Ava & I mean by getting a gift copy of our current magazine from the link on our Facebook page. 

All I Want for the Holidays is Body Gratitude

As the holidays approach I’m already hearing friends worry about how much they’ll eat at Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas feasts.  It’s a topic that pops up every year at this time in every group of women I know. It’s a strangely negative backdrop to the overall messages of abundance and gratitude during the winter holidays.

And it has a negative effect on girls who overhear and recreate the conversations of their moms, grandmas, aunts and teachers. It’s a shame to teach girls, through our own example, that abundance and gratitude are the hallmarks of the season EXCEPT when it comes to food and their bodies. Then they are supposed to deny themselves abundance and criticize themselves and their bodies.

I say it’s time to replace the self-torment with actual gratitude for our bodies.  We need to say out loud, in the hearing of girls, that we’re grateful for our bodies and all they do. And then we need to repeat it just as often as we used to repeat our self-bashing scripts about “being bad” for eating certain foods.

Tonight we’re chatting on Twitter and this blog about this – sharing tips and changing the messages we pass on to girls.  A few of the things we’ll be talking about:

  • What common things do you hear women say about our bodies during winter holiday season?
  • What do you want to tell the girls you love about body image during the holidays?
  • Why do so many holiday season conversations between women focus on weight and body image?
  • How can we show girls that we love and respect our and their bodies regardless of size, shape, disability, etc.?
  • How can we shift the holiday season conversation to be about body gratitude, not self-bashing?
  • What words do you like best to express body gratitude in Nov & Dec?

To talk with other parents about how to help girls be grateful for their body, especially during the holidays, join me and four other awesome advocates for girls on Nov 10.

Thursday Nov 10  at 9pm est/8 cst/7 mst/6 pst for a chat on Twitter. Follow hash tag  #girlsnow. Add it to the end of your tweet so we can see your question or comment. 

Before the chat  follow @Nancy_Newmoon, @PigtailPals, @BeABetterWoman, @AudreyBrashich, @DrRobyn .

If you’re not on Twitter you can still participate live on my blog. We want to hear from you!

If you can’t make it live, the transcript will be available afterward at my blog.

My c0-advocates are:

Amy Harman of Becoming A Better Woman

Dr. Robyn Silverman, author of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat

Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals

Audrey Brashich, author of All Made Up

#Save Girlhood: Twitter Chat Sept 8

#SAVEGIRLHOOD

While many things have gotten better for girls in the 19 years since we started New Moon Girls, one thing is clearly worse: sexualization of girls in our culture. Girls as young as toddlers are given the message from all sides that they should mimic sexy or sexist behavior of adults in order to feel more grown-up.

We see it in clothing like the insulting t-shirt that JC Penney stopped selling last week, toys like Braatz dolls, and in all kinds of marketing including recent photos of a ten-year-old in French Vogue.

To help parents fight back, Melissa Wardy Atkins of Pigtail Pals is hosting a Twitter chat about how we can #SaveGirlhood.

JOIN US! This Thursday Sept 8th at 9pm EST/8pm CST for a chat on Twitter. Follow hash tag  #savegirlhood for the conversation. Add it to the end of a tweet so that we can see a question or comment you make.

You’ll want to follow @PigtailPals, @BeABetterWoman, @AudreyBrashich, @DrRobyn, and @Nancy_Newmoon.

We’ll also be carrying the discussion over to the Pigtail PalsNew Moon Girls facebook pages, and probably other places.

Melissa says:

Consider this a huge town hall meeting. we just won’t be face to face. But we will be talking!

You’ve got the questions, we’ve got the answers. And when we all come together, our girls will shine.

A few introductions, so that you can get to know the powerful crew available to talk directly with you on Thursday night.

Audrey Brashich

Audrey Brashich has been involved in teen and women’s journalism since 1993. She’s worked and written for magazines such as Sassy, YM, Seventeen, Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl, Teen People, Lucky, Shape, Ms., Health and others. Her work focuses primarily on body image and understanding media influences–and she’s the author of  All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2006).

Audrey has appeared on TV and radio in the US and Canada (CNN, NBC, CBS, Canada’s CBC).  Her commentary has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Vancouver Sun, The Seattle Times, The San Diego Union Tribune, The Toronto Star and many others. She’s served on the board of directors for Mind on the Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering critical analysis of media messages, and consulted with national organizations such as Girls Inc. on their programming and policies for girls.

Audrey is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and holds a master’s degree in pop culture & gender studies from Brown University.”

Amy Harman

Amy Harman is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a wife and mother.  She has worked as a therapist for several years, most recently as a therapist for women and girls with eating disorders.  Because of her work with women and the examples of strong women around her, she has developed a desire help women realize their worth. While taking a break from working full-time, she has created a website to empower women by strengthening relationships and improving mental and emotional well-being.  Visit her blog at becomingabetterwoman.com, follower her on Twitter @beabetterwoman, or like her Facebook page.

Amy is concerned about the sexualization of young girls because part of becoming a better woman is leaving a better world to those who will be the women of tomorrow.  In working with girls struggling with eating disorders, she has seen the harmful impact sexualized messages can make on young minds.  She believes we have a duty to teach children the positive aspects of womanhood through example, discussion, and activism.

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Dr. Robyn Silverman is a body image expert, parenting resource and child & teen development specialist who appears regularly on national TV such as The Today Show and Good Morning America. An award-winning writer, professional speaker and success coach, she has been the content consultant for 17 books and writes a character education/leadership curriculum called Powerful Words for top level after-school programs worldwide. Her most recent book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It, is based on her passion to help all girls reach their potential and highlight their strengths rather than their deficits. To learn more, please visit DrRobynSilverman.com, follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/DrRobynSilverman, or on www.twitter.com/DrRobyn.

Nancy Gruver

Nancy Gruver is founder of the groundbreaking safe social network and magazine for girls ages 8 and up, New Moon Girls, author of How To Say It® To Girls: Communicating With Your Growing Daughter (Penguin Putnam, 2004) and blogs on girls’ issues, parenting, and media.  www.newmoon.com & www.daughters.com

And finally…..

Melissa Wardy

Melissa Wardy is the creator/owner of Pigtail Pals www.pigtailpals.com. A business owner, writer, and children’s advocate, her work has appeared on CNN, FOX News, and in the Ms. Magazine blog. She is the mom to a 5yo girl and 3yo boy and wants to see some big changes in the children’s marketplace.  What originally began in 2009 as an empowering online t-shirt shop for little girls has now grown into a large online boutique that carries  goods with the message to Redefine Girly and recognize our girls as “Smart ~ Daring ~ Adventurous”. We also have a line of tees for little boys called Curious Crickets.

In 2010 Melissa began the Redefine Girly blog to educate parents on issues of gender stereotypes and sexualization that our children face. The blog and parent community quickly became known as the go-to place for parents to discuss these issues. In 2011 Melissa started presenting Media Literacy workshops for parents and educators helping them to understand how girlhood was changing, and in 2012 you’ll be able to read her book that brings everything full circle. Let’s change the way we think about our girls.

Girl Power and My Daughter’s Great News

We love hearing from proud moms and bloggers like Becky Beaupre Gillespie. She posted recently at The New Perfect to share the news about her daughter joining the Girls Editorial Board of New Moon Girls. Becky, thanks for sharing B’s great news with the world.

Over the (New) Moon: Girl Power and My Daughter’s Great News

My daughter got her first journalism job this week. Which means, at just 9 years old, she’s a fourth-generation member of the family profession. I didn’t start stringing for my local weekly until I was 15. So, I need to warn you: I’m going to be an insufferably braggy mom here for a minute.

But bear with me: This is really a post about girl power and a truly inspiring social network and magazine called New Moon Girls. I swear that my main point isn’t to tell you that B is awesome. That said, she is — and I feel compelled to say it because she was born with a host of challenges that sometimes make life difficult. Things have been particularly tough for her the past few months, though I’ll refrain from saying more since it’s her story to tell, not mine. But suffice it to say that we’ve been struggling — really struggling some days — to help her remember how many beautiful gifts she has to share.

B is overflowing with spirit and conviction. She’s an animal rights activist, a vegetarian, an environmentalist and a kid who wants to change the world. She’s baffled by conformity (“Why doesn’t everyone just want to be themselves?”), she isn’t afraid to speak up (even though this sometimes gets her into trouble), and she can spot inner beauty a mile away. Her aunt and uncle gave her a giant painted sign for Christmas that reads:

“BE BOLD – BE THANKFUL – BE QUIET – BE ORIGINAL – BE SPONTANEOUS – BE PUNCTUAL – BE A STAR – BE YOUNG – BE LOVING – BE CRAZY – BE LOUD – BE RANDOM – BE ADORABLE – BE UNIQUE – BE DARING – BE OBNOXIOUS – BE YOURSELF.”

And it was perfect because that’s B’s life philosophy in a nutshell.

Last fall, she discovered New Moon Girls, a safe, ad-free magazine and online social network aimed at girls age 8 and up. Their mission: “To help girls … discover their unique voices and express them in the world.” Instead of articles about fashion, celebrity and being thin enough, B found girls discussing the things she cared about: dreams and passions, favorite books, real beauty, plans to change the world. She could share her original short stories and poetry, advocate for animal rights, chat with other girls — all in a moderated community filled with positive messages designed to boost self-esteem. (That’s the part that clinched it for me, though, honestly, they probably had me at “unique.”)

But here’s the best part: The magazine and website are created in part by other girls — all members of an international Girls Editorial Board that collaborates with adult staff to choose and create content.

So, in December, when B saw that New Moon was accepting applications for spots on this board, she knew right away that she wanted a shot. The commitment was big: She’d have to be available five hours a week and attend two online editorial board meetings a month. She’d have assignments, deadlines and meetings that she’d have to remember. She’d be expected to have opinions, speak up, and consider other ideas with respect.

That’s a lot for a 9 year old, and I worried at first about the time commitment. But what an amazing experience: to make a difference while learning important lessons about responsibility, leadership, deadlines, commitment and group debate. And how wonderful to learn these things while doing something she truly loves.

Some things are just worth it, no matter what.

Anyway, long story short: She worked hard on her application, and then patiently (OK, not always patiently) waited to hear. This week, the email arrived. B has been chosen to join the board, which includes 30 other girls from the United States, Canada and the U.K. She and I were both assigned mentors to guide us through the first three months, and instructed to keep her selection a secret until it was formally announced on the site on Saturday.

The smile on B’s face when she saw this email is something I’ll never forget. The boost to her self-esteem was palpable: We could hear it in her voice and see it in the way she carried herself. The smile lasted all day and stretched the entire width of her face.

That’s when my gratitude really kicked in. I’d been wishing for an opportunity exactly like this: A place where B could blossom by being exactly who she is — a place where being a little different would be valued as an advantage instead of viewed as something to overcome.

And this, actually, is my real point. I love that this community exists, and I want the families of other girls to know about it. I love that there’s an alternative to the constant barrage of messages that steer so many girls away from their real dreams. I love that New Moon wants to lift girls up and show them that their voices matter.

It’s what B, and all girls — all children — deserve.

Becky Beaupre Gillespie is co-author of the new book Good Enough Is the New Perfectwith Hollee Schwartz Temple.

Creative Girls Make Media


Girls make their own media!

If the newsstand lineup of magazines for girls looks bleak to you or your daughter, walk on by—and head home to get her producing her own girls’ media. This could be as simple as a younger girl’s hand-printed text and illustrations for a magazine that she photocopies and delivers to friends and family. And many younger and older girls already have the minimal skills needed to create an online ‘zine that can be widely distributed by email. Either way, making her own media is a great way for a girl to have her unique voice heard and appreciated.

Girls’ media production has exploded in recent years, says Mary Celeste Kearney, Assistant professor of media and cultural studies at the University of Texas and author of Girls Make Media (Routledge, 2006). Girls from elementary ages on up are making ‘zines, movies, music, and websites and becoming less dependent on mainstream media that can demean them.

They’re inspired and mentored by women who began making media as teens and now do workshops on ‘zine production, girls’ rock ‘n’roll camps, movie-making classes, and more. The wider availability and lower cost of equipment has made media-making accessible to more girls. Not least of all, girls who make media now will be one step ahead for adult job opportunities in the booming media industry, Kearney notes. And they’ll be certain to steer media away from its girl-unfriendly ways as they become women in media.

Inspiring girls by exposing them to women writers, musicians, directors, and other amazing and creative women is a great start to supporting her creative dreams.

We’ll be doing that on NewMoon.com February 28th when we chat with Amy Nathan, author of the true story, Take a Seat—Make a Stand. About Sarah Keys Evans, a Black teen who refused to give up her seat on a bus three years before Rosa Parks became famous for doing the same.

You can also catch Amy Nathan and Sarah Keys Evans on Brian Lehres’s interview on New York Public Radio at 11:40 am eastern time (8:40 pacific, 9:40 mountain, 10:40 central) on Wednesday, February 9. If you  miss the interview, you can listen to it here: Book Club Author on the Radio!

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