When my friend Ann and I began an afternoon of reading magazines for girls, Ann, who is 14, made a quick observation about the magazine she picked up first, New Moon: "I like this one because it doesn't have perfume samples."
Neither do the other magazines we perused that afternoon. And that small truth illustrates the big differences between these three magazines and the majority of magazines that target readers Ann's age.
Ann does like some of those magazines that do have perfume samples, just as I did when I was 14. She usually borrows YM from her older sister because of issue-related articles, like girls with disabilities and gangs. But she's aware of what is in between the pages of the few legitimate articles she reads. "In YM, most of it is beauty-everything," Ann said. "I think that they should get more in touch with people who aren't into that and want more about human rights and animal rights."
New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams is one magazine that is getting in touch with girls who want more. Designed for ages 8 to 14, it fills that awkward void for girls who have progressed beyond Barbie but are not yet interested in dating advice in case a real-life Ken comes along. And it gives girls a safe space to question what that Barbie doll represents.
New Moon was recently criticized in New York Magazine for an "occasionally dogmatic feminist slant," but I found mostly real girls writing about real experiences, with a myriad of unique perspectives. An article in the January/February 1995 issue approached the traditional female activity of baking cookies from the perspective of a scientist using a chemical reaction involving sodium bicarbonate (that's baking soda to us less scientifically minded cooks).