Well Done 'Discovery Girls', You've Just Taught The Next Generation Of Women to Hate Their Bodies

11/05/2016 12:13 | Updated 11 May 2016

I was around 10 years old when I first started to become self-conscious about my body. A girl in the playground asked me if I was anorexic and I had to ask my mum what it meant.

Before then, I was oblivious to the fact that I was skinnier than other girls my age. And rightly so, because children should not be thinking about body image, let alone worrying about it.

Fast forward 14 years and a magazine aimed at "girls aged eight and up" is making children acutely aware of their bodies in the worst possible way.

In its latest issue, 'Discovery Girls' has published a guide telling its young readers what sort of swimwear they should be wearing to suit their body type.

It instructs girls on what to wear if they are "curvy on top", "straight up and down" or "rounder in the middle", at an age when most of its readers won't have even hit puberty.

Would you find a feature like this in a magazine aimed at boys? No, they'll be being shown how to make rockets or learning about dinosaurs.

Catherine Lee, the publisher of 'Discovery Girls', has posted an open letter on Facebook admitting that the publication "made a mistake" in publishing the article.

"It's still hard for me to believe that an article so contrary to our magazine's mission could have been published on our pages," she says.

"As much we like to think that something like this would never happen to us, it did."

Lee's statement is hardly a gushing apology. In fact, it feels more like she's avoiding taking responsibility for the issue than making amends with readers and their parents.

That aside, my mind is completely boggled as to how this potentially damaging piece of journalism went to print in the first place.

Reports have shown that girls as young as six are dieting due to body image fears.

What's more, 38% of girls aged 11 to 21 have sometimes skipped meals to help them lose weight, while 87% of young women think they are judged more on looks than ability.

Girls as young as six and eight should be spending their summer holidays playing in the sea without a care in the world, not worrying about the style of their swimsuit.

With the media telling young girls there are areas of their bodies they should be hiding, it's no wonder so many are having a crisis of body confidence.

What really saddens me about the 'Discovery Girls' feature is the knowing that for the girls who picked up the magazine, this will be the first of many, many times the media tells them they are not good enough.

From relentless messages about getting "beach body ready" to fashion editors telling us how we should dress in line with random fruit shapes, time and time again the media tells women that if we don't conform to society's beauty standards we have to hide in the beach hut.

Don't believe me? Just look at how similar this article aimed at adult women is to the 'Discovery Girls' feature.

Campaigns like #RockTheCrop - when plus size women posted photos of themselves looking fabulous in crop tops - have proven that women of all shapes and sizes should be able to wear whatever the hell they want.

While I completely support campaigns promoting body confidence, we really shouldn't need them in the first place.

If we want to live in a world where women automatically feel comfortable in their own bodies, we have to teach girls to stop judging themselves and each other based on their appearance.

That starts by ditching body shaming in the media.