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5 Moments Young Women Kicked Ass

Girls don’t run the world, but they could, and it might be a better place if they did.

In the Olympic gymnastics arena in London, Gabby Douglas of the United States looks a contender for the women's all-around title, on Thursday, August 2.


The word “girl” in pop culture can often be loaded and complex. It can be used to trivialize the accomplishments of women young and old alike, to render impressive feats diminutive. But as with so many words, an element of power remains in its reclamation -- particularly when young women accomplish truly badass things.

In the past few months, it seems the Beyonce line is true, at least to some extent. Girls don’t run the world, but it’s clear they could and it might be a better place if they did. Young women have been in the media glare for founding their own magazines and starting their own TV shows, and forcing mainstream media to do better with inclusion of women. Here’s a list of the five best girl-power moments from the past months, highlighting the ability of young women to make the world sit up and take notice.

1. Teen girls push for female moderator to take on presidential debate (Maddow, please?). For weeks, three 10th-grade students from New Jersey -- Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis -- have been pushing to accomplish something surprisingly difficult: a female moderator in the presidential debates. It’s been two decades, they learned in the classroom, since Carole Simpson moderated a 1992 debate.

That seemed unfair to them for obvious reasons, but instead of stewing over it they began to petition the Commission on Presidential Debates -- and when they were given the brush-off there, they appealed to the two presidential campaigns. They even showed up with boxes of petition signatures at the Commission’s office and  were turned away, but remain undaunted, going on a media blitz to try to get the campaigns to leverage big-time pressure on the commission.

Columnist Connie Schultz wrote about how their efforts showed up the metaphorical big boys of the campaigns:

Do we really, in 2012, want girls and young women to see all-male moderators questioning all-male contenders for president of the United States? Speaking of those male candidates, they keep talking about how important women are in this election. How hard is it for them to step up and insist that just one of those millions of women moderate a debate?

2. More teen girls take on Seventeen magazine over photoshopping. Julia Bluhm, a young activist from the SPARK movement for girls got enraged by all the ultra-photoshopped and airbrushed pictures she saw in the pages of glossy magazines, and realized how negatively these pervasive images of altered perfection were affecting her classmates’ self-esteem.  In her own petition, she wrote:

A girl you see in a magazine probably looks a lot different in real life...

That’s why I’m asking Seventeen Magazine to commit to printing one unaltered -- real -- photo spread per month. I want to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that’s supposed to be for me.

For the sake of all the struggling girls all over America, who read Seventeen and think these fake images are what they should be, I’m stepping up...

She delivered the petitions, with 84,000 signatures, to Seventeen’s offices. Perhaps the most surprising part of this petition? Bluhm won quite a victory.

The AFP reported:

In a letter to readers in its August issue, editor Ann Shocket said the magazine, aimed at US teenage girls, is embracing a "Body Peace Treaty" set of guidelines to "always feature real girls and models who are healthy."

"We vow to never change girls' body or face shapes (never have, never will)," the guidelines said, although Seventeen will still tweak photos in order to smooth folds on garments or get rid of flyaway hair.

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