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Discovery Girls magazine under fire after controversial 'body type' swimsuit spread

The publisher of a magazine that caters to pre-teen readers is apologizing for a recent spread that many have deemed inappropriate.
/ Source: TODAY

The publisher of a magazine that caters to pre-teen readers is apologizing for a recent swimsuit spread that many deemed inappropriate.

A two-page photo feature titled "What Swimsuit Best Suits You?" in the April/May issue of Discovery Girls magazine asks young readers to evaluate their bodies, deciding whether they're "curvy on top", "straight up and down" or "rounder in the middle."

"Find the perfect suit for your body type!" a blurb read.

Readers of Discovery Magazine are typically "tween" girls, between 8 and 13.

On its website, the magazine, which reaches close to 900,000 readers, describes itself as "the ONLY magazine ... that recognizes and celebrates the critical period as a girl moves from childhood to the teen years."

But many people felt the spread sent the wrong message, saying that it promoted body image issues that girls in middle school should not be exposed to.

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"When girls see images that tell them that they need to look a certain way or hide areas of their bodies to feel valuable, they get the message that something might be wrong with their bodies," Dr. Robyn Silverman, a psychologist and body image expert, told TODAY.

Catherine Lee, the founder and CEO of Discovery Girls, apologized for the feature in a statement to NBC News.

"We want to make it clear that Discovery Girls does not promote nor support body-shaming. This article was intended to show that every body shape is acceptable, not that they should be ashamed of the shape they have," Lee said.

She also responded to the criticism on Facebook.

"For girls, Discovery Girls is a safe place where she can learn about herself and connect with other girls just like her who are going through the same types of challenges. With Discovery Girls, she’ll know...she’s not alone."

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While its message suggests that the platform should serve as a space where young girls can chat freely about any and all concerns, women were displeased by the content that will likely spur those conversations.