I think I was seven or eight years old when I first started making and writing my own books and mini magazines. I remember proudly gifting them to my mum, who accepted the scribbled, colourful, yet incredibly informative sheets of paper with a smile. This creative pursuit was partly fuelled by a magazine that hit our stands in the mid-90s.
Girl Talk happens to be the UK’s oldest publication for females ages 7-12 years old. Featuring articles on the latest trends (throwback to boy bands, braids and jelly shoes!), the latest gossip and life lessons. A visit to good old Woolworths usually resorted in me getting distracted by the signature pink cover and then losing sight of my family.
Issue: 1 and 500 Girl Talk magazine: In Publishing
I was pretty happy (actually, ecstatic!) to discover, that the editor, Bea Appleby decided to take matters into her own hands and draw attention to overtly hyper-sexualised celebrity culture we now live in and how this is impacting on the confidence of young females. In 2014, poll results carried out by the magazine revealed that a shocking 80% of girls would rather be referred to as ‘pretty’, ‘kind’ and ‘funny’, in comparison to the 20% who chose ‘clever’, ‘strong’ or ‘brave’ as being the most important attributes. Without hesitation, Bea re-launched the magazine to promote confidence, ambition and feminist strength; refusing to feature inappropriate content like naked ‘canon-ball’ riders and instead, welcomed female scientists, politicians, activists and athletes to fill its pages.
Bea Appleby wearing #GirlsAreAmazing t-shirt to support the campaign
This made me think back to when I was 10 years old, sitting in an English class, when my male teacher decided to say (in front of the whole class), ‘Harriet, you’re pretty but not very bright’. Now, my mother is one of the calmest and collected individuals I know, but she is also a strong and direct woman who did not stand for this comment. The next day she demanded a meeting with him at the school and asked him, ‘Are you aware of how impactful your words are to young and impressionable females like my daughter?’. He responded with an unsurprising, ‘Sorry. I didn’t realise’.
The fact is, thrown around statements like these can be damaging to a female’s self-confidence and self-worth. They are also a representation of societal views, that sadly still exist. The ones that claim that women can’t do the jobs men do; that they shouldn’t get paid the same; and that they have to be pretty and pleasing to go far in their careers.
I want to make a promise to myself right now (yep, you’re now a witness), that no matter how many sexist statements are thrown at me, they won’t make a mark on who I am, what I believe in and what I want to achieve. They won’t lead me to doubt my own strength and integrity; instead, they’ll spur me on to keep challenging, questioning and inviting others to join a much bigger conversation surrounding gender equality.
Khensani Charllote; Being a girls rights activist in Mozambique
As impressionable young females flick through the pages of Girl Talk magazine, let the old stiff views be abolished and replaced with inspiring and empowering messages that provide young females with confidence, strength and the determination to achieve more. Let us ask ourselves: what message do we think society is giving to our younger generations? and how can we make sure that boys and girls feel equal to one another?
On that note, I’m off to my boxing class but will leave you with the five Girl Talk promises:
- I will love myself the way I am
- By working hard, I know I can achieve great things
- I will accept others for who they are
- I will have confidence to stand up for my friends and other girls
- I believe girls are equal to boys
Find out more about some of the movements happening right now; where girl activists are speaking out on current laws such as ending forced marriage and talking openly about menstruation in schools; and raising their voices for justice and equality around the world.