Justice

This Viral Letter From a 10-Year-Old Girl Pinpoints Exactly What's Wrong With Women's Magazines

May 20th 2016

By:
Tricia Tongco

If you’ve ever stood in front of a rack of women’s magazines and felt bad about yourself, you’re not alone. In fact, 10-year-old Tish Melton has been there, and her reaction was to start a petition.

Written on lined paper in black marker with the title, the note reads:

first page of Tish's petition

It’s gotten a few signatures, mostly from her parents and family members:

signatures on petition

But that doesn’t mean that Tish's audience is limited to a handful of people. Her mother, Glennon Melton, wrote about her daughter’s petition and the story behind it on her blog Momastery, where it has gone viral with more than 80,000 Facebook shares.

In the blog post titled "Pe-TISH-ion," Melton details how the discussion of body image began with Tish:

Two nights ago, my ten-year-old daughter, Tish, who is a younger version of me (in every wonderful, terrifying way) sat on my bed and said with a shaky voice, “Mama, the other girls are all skinny. Why am I different?”

In the post, Melton writes about how her daughter’s insecurities have triggered her own past struggles with body image and bulimia, which began when she was 10 years old.

After talking with her husband, Melton decided to have an honest conversation with Tish about the myriad pressures and gender norms girls face, from being quiet to being small.

"My approach was to teach her that the problem wasn't her body – the problem was our culture's messages about female bodies," said Melton in an email interview with ATTN:.

On her blog, Melton goes on to describe a subsequent visit to a bookstore where she sees Tish staring at women’s magazine covers, with “pictures of women, each blonder and more emaciated than the last.”

So Melton walked up to her daughter and started a conversation about the confusing messages that magazines send girls and women. Her blog post details their conversation:

Then I picked up a magazine and we looked at it together. I said, “Tish, what do you think women’s bodies are for?”

And she said, “Writing, running, hugging.”

And I said: “Are women’s bodies for selling thing?”

She said no.

And I said, “That’s why this feels bad to you. Because this is a lie. There’s nothing wrong with you, baby. There’s something wrong with THIS.”

She nodded.

According to Melton, when Tish got home, she went to her room and yelled, “Mom! How do you spell petition?” An hour later, she showed her mom the letter.

"I think it's proof that girls can be activists instead of victims, and that it's better for our girls to get angry than to get sick," Melton said via email. She also added, "It's not one conversation – we'll be talking about this forever."

The petition and the conversation surrounding it about how girls perceive their bodies has clearly resonated with thousands of people sharing the story and dozens leaving comments on the post.

Screenshot of comment from Momastery post

One woman reminds us that women of all ages face these insecurities and pressures:

Screenshot of comment from Momastery post

And finally, many wondered this:
Screenshot of comment from Momastery post

Screenshot of comment from Momastery post

In the United States, 20 million women suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, according to The National Eating Disorders Association. Tish's petition highlights how far mass media has to go in the representation of women's bodies and sparks an important conversation regarding the harsh, confusing messages young girls receive from a young age.

[h/t Revelist]