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A New Magazine by Girls, for Girls

Publication * Preteens can find stories that relate to what they're going through--but no models.


Tell me this is not the most humiliating thing you can think of: A fourth-grader has a crush on a boy in her class. One day, she sneezes and snot lands on his chair. The teacher makes a joke about it.

Even if she were wearing the coolest outfit in the world, it wouldn't help a girl get over that. But knowing that other girls have survived equally excruciating situations might help.

A new magazine aimed at girls ages 8 to 12 celebrates the accomplishments and tribulations of real girls. Discovery Girls, based in California, features regular schoolgirls, not models, on the cover of its premiere issue, and is filled with advice and stories by and about real kids.

Catherine Lee, the publisher, founded Discovery Girls when she was unable to find an appropriate magazine for her daughter, who's now 9.

"She and her friends said they didn't have any magazines for them. They wanted to read the teen magazines, but I didn't think that was appropriate," says Lee, who used to work for a computer company in Silicon Valley.

So she spent a year researching the market and talking with other parents, and came out with Discovery Girls this summer. Thirty-thousand copies were distributed to libraries. The next issue will appear at the end of this month.

What sets Discovery Girls apart from many other girls' magazines is the editorial board of 12 girls who helped produce the first issue.

"They helped with everything, including reading the writers' stories," Lee said.

With each bimonthly issue, the magazine will focus on a different area of the country and recruit 12 girls from that area. The girls are selected from those who write to the magazine. "If we get a lot of response from one area, we'll go there," Lee said.

The group fills out questionnaires and has two days of photo shoots. The girls talk to their friends and ask what kinds of things they would like to see in a magazine for them. "They're like reporters. They get ideas from other girls, such as 'What is the major issue you have in middle school?' or 'What could we write about that would help you?' " Lee said.

Future issues will include girls in New Hampshire and Arizona, and will explore what it's like to live in those areas.

The "most embarrassing moments" section of Discovery Girls is a big hit, Lee said. "Some of the parents wondered if it was appropriate, but these things do happen to girls. Their traumas don't seem quite so extreme when they see that so many other girls have gone through it."

The debut issue also includes a section on losing friends, how to cope with changing in the locker room at school, an interview with 'N Sync by one of the 12 girls, a feature on money management and a profile of a 10-year-old who became a fashion consultant for Sears after winning a contest. There are also horoscopes, fashion, contests and quizzes.

But no models. "One of the reasons we did the magazine is this image problem with girls," Lee said. "We wondered, 'What could we do that would make a difference?' We'll never have a movie star or superstar (in the magazine)--only regular girls. They're the stars and they need to know that."

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