Girl Power! We’re used to hearing the term now, more than a decade after the Spice Girls made it popular, and are seeing more opportunities and support available for girls transitioning into womanhood. But what was available for girl empowerment before those words and ideology became an influence on society? Not much. Which is exactly what Nancy Gruver, mom to twin girls and founder of “ New Moon Girls ” magazine, discovered in the early 90s when she began searching for information.
Nancy Gruver, founder of "New Moon Girls" magazine.
“When my daughters were 9-years-old, I was thinking that my adolescence and my transition from girlhood into womanhood wasn’t a pretty memory. It was a lot of struggles and a lot of feelings like nobody understood,” Gruver said in an interview with MotherofConfusion.com . “I didn’t know what to try and do to make my daughters’ experience better than that. When I looked around in the early 90s, there was nothing there, no real resources, no research or discussion about these issues.”
The one piece of information Gruver did find was a book called “ Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development ” by Lyn Mike Brown and Carol Gilligan. The writers asked the question: “What, on the way to womanhood, does a girl give up?” The answer came from interviews with 100 girls conducted over five years: The passage out of girlhood is a journey into silence and disconnection. At some point, girls will silence their inner voice and put others ahead of themselves.
When Gruver finished the book, she realized that’s what happened to her. She didn’t want that for her daughters. Then, in a flash, an idea was born. What about a magazine for junior girls where girls were in charge? It would be something young readers could connect with about the stages, emotions and physical aspects they may experience as they grow up. Girls could learn to listen to their inner voices, not ignore their needs and stop — or never start — always putting others first.
“I wanted to create a space where girls could be themselves, connect with other girls, be respected and challenged to do things and make the world a better place,” Gruver said.
She called a family meeting about her idea and everyone agreed to go for it – even though Gruver didn’t have journalism experience or know how to create a magazine. “ New Moon Girls ” was published for the first time on March 21, 1993. It focuses on helping girls discover and honor their true selves, build self-esteem and a positive body image.
Soon after the magazine launched, Gruver – and her editorial staff made up of girls — realized this was more than a magazine for girls by girls, it was a community. In recent years, the has magazine expanded to reflect that community online with their website and social networking platforms. Online, girls can share their poetry, artwork, videos, chat and learn together in a welcoming and safe environment. The site has over 70 trained volunteer moderators and a volunteer counselor. Also, another cool feature is the magazine and website are completely ad free.
“There’s so many ways that we ( NewMoon.com ) can give help and be supportive. I think of us as a safety net, but not as a way to prevent girls from doing things that might fail, or things that are risky — but as a place they can take a risk,” Gruver said. “And if it does fail, they have a safety net to catch them in the community, in the discussion forums, in their own creativity and it helps them grow and mature.”
Parents can use the magazine as a resource to find subjects as a conversation opener and visit a sister site, Daughters.com , for a parent-to-parent community and resources.
Almost twenty years after the magazine has launched, Gruver has seen great strides in women empowerment. The dream of growing up to be the first woman president is already a reality for some countries – and we see more and more women in positions of governance and decision making every day.
The one thing that Gruver would like any girl to gain from the magazine?
“Their voice, their thoughts, their perspective and contributions are important in the world and the world needs them.”
Subscription to the magazine and a membership to the site is $34.95 for 12 months. This includes 6 bimonthly issues and online community access.