More than half of 13-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies. That number creeps up to three out of four girls by 17. The stats are appalling, but not exactly surprising when you come across something like this:

Matt Frye, a father of three girls, snapped this photo at his local library and it quickly went viral. The September issue of Girls’ Life gives girls tricks to “wake up pretty” while the most recent issue of Boys’ Life tells boys to “explore your future.” The magazines aren’t affiliated with each other, but they’re targeting the same demographic: pre-teens and teens.

Hundreds of parents have responded to the image of the side-by-side covers. One mom, Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, wrote an open letter that already says everything we’d like to say to the editors of Girls’ Life. Check it out below:

Dear Karen, Chun, Kelsey, Brooke, and Paulette,

I address all of you for two reasons. First, you are all on the masthead of Girls’ Life magazine. Secondly, even if you, in your capacity at the magazine do not have editorial control, you certainly have a voice and should be using it. I refer you to the attached photo, an image of the cover of your magazine contrasted with Boys’ Life (unaffiliated but similarly named) magazine. I’ll give you a minute to compare the two covers.

Your cover has a lovely young lady with a full face of makeup and you invite your readers to ‘steal her secrets.’ The BOYS’ LIFE cover has in bold letters: EXPLORE YOUR FUTURE surrounded by all kinds of awesome gear for different professions: doctor, explorer, pilot, chemist, engineer, etc. subheading—HERE’S HOW TO BE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE.

Could there possibly be two more divergent messages?

Let’s explore further.

Your Mag:
Fashion (how to SLAY on the first day)
Confessions: My first kiss
Wake up pretty
Your dream hair

You do at least mention doing well in school… even if it does come at the end of this: How to have fun, make friends… and get all A’s.

But, whatever will they do with all those A’s since it is the boys who will be the astronaut, artist, firefighter, chef?

You to girls:

Be like this girl.
Wake up gorgeous, steal a girl’s secrets, slay on your first day, have fun, make friends… and kiss… and get all A’s.

BOYS’ LIFE to boys:

Be what YOU want to be. Here are some of your awesome choices! We’ll show you how!

Your true stories are: ‘real girls smooch and spill’
Boys’ Life true stories are: True stories of firefighters in action.

WHAT in the name of all that is and ever was good are you teaching girls?? Is this the message you want for your daughters??You are women. Working, professional women. Is this the message you are proud of? Is this why you became publishers, writers, graphic designers? To tell girls they are the sum of their fashion, makeup and hair?

I know that you are only one of many many magazines that contribute to this culture but I believe you can be part of changing all that is wrong here.

You CAN fight the tide of objectification of girls.
You CAN create covers and stories that treat girls as more than hair, lips, and kisses.

Until you do, I guess I’ll sign us up to BOYS’ LIFE because the quiz I want for my girls isn’t “Am I ready for a BF?” it’s “What Do I Want to Be?”


Shoshanna (mom of two girls and three boys) Keats Jaskoll