Discovery Girls causes controversy after publishing swimsuit guide for readers aged eight to 13

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  • Discovery Girls magazine has hit the headlines after publishing a controversial article offering advice on swimwear to young girls.

    The American magazine, whose typical audience ranges from the ages of around eight to 13, focuses on three body types in their piece, entitled ‘What swimsuit best suits you’ – ‘curvy on top’, ‘straight up and down’ and ’rounder in the middle’. The author then educates readers on what type of swimsuit they think will suit each of these figures the best, with comments like ‘coverage is key!’ and ‘add curves with asymetrical straps’.

    Controversy over the piece began after writer Taffy Akner, who posted a picture of the article to her Twitter account, wrote, ‘Hey @DiscoveryGirls, why not include diet tips/surgical options with this? Your readers are 9, after all. Tick tock’.

    Her almost 7,000 followers were quick to respond with similarly outraged messages.
    ‘I would have considered subscribing to this for my daughter, but not after this. This is appalling’, one tweeted, whilst another agreed, ‘WTF? Curvy on top?? I didn’t know what that meant til I was in college & sure as hell wasnt curvy til mid 20s!’

    Another simply added, ‘Q: which swimsuit suits you? A: one that you can f**king swim in!’

    There have since been thousands of responses, but all seem to have the same basic sentiments in common – that the feature puts undue pressure on young girls, playing to their insecurities rather than encouraging them to wear whatever they like and have fun.

    As a result, the publisher of Discovery Girls, Catherine Lee, posted an open letter to the brand’s Facebook page apologising for the critical nature of the article.

    ‘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,’ she said. ‘I have been a loss for words for days. 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. Nobody knows better than Discovery Girls how impressionable our girls are at this age and we are ALWAYS mindful of this.’

    However, even this post was subject to backlash, with the majority of commenters saying that the ‘confidence’ angle of the article was wrong from the beginning.

    ‘Why on God’s green earth do you operate from the premise that girls need cute swimsuits to “make” them feel confident? My daughter IS confident and would be quite taken aback to hear that adults out there assume she is not,’ one such mother replied.

    What do you think of Discovery Girls’ article – harmless fun, or potentially damaging? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts below.