Have you ever browsed the magazine aisle of your favorite bookstore with a little girl? It's depressing. Whereas magazines for boys include articles about future career choices, adventure and outdoor activities, magazine offerings for girls are loaded with articles on hair, lip gloss and manners — not to mention the heavily made-up and often Photoshopped young female models.
Condé Nast editor Erin Bried had this experience last spring while book shopping with her 5-year-old daughter. She left the store with nothing and wondered why there weren't better choices out there for little girls. That's when she decided that maybe it was up to her to change that.
Bried created Kazoo, a quarterly magazine for young girls "that inspires them to be strong, smart, fierce and, above all, true to themselves," according to the magazine's website. Bried launched Kazoo via Kickstarter to gauge interest and secure funding. In less than one month, Kazoo's Kickstarter campaign raised $171,215 and closed as site's highest funded journalism campaign ever.
The first issue of Kazoo, which shipped over the summer, included scavenger hunts, a new comic by "Fun Home" author Alison Bechdel, an art project created by artist Mickalene Thomas, a tutorial on boat building, profiles of amazing female athletes and a maze mapping Diana Nyad's historic swim from Cuba to Florida.
You can watch a super-fast flip-through of that issue in the video below:
Did you notice what was missing from Kazoo? Any article about makeup or pretty hair or nail polish. In fact, there's nothing in the pages of Kazoo about a girl's appearance. That was a conscious decision, Bried says. "You'll also notice there are no pictures of girls in the magazine," Bried told Vogue. "I didn't want our readers to be looking at any story and comparing themselves to someone else."
Rather than using photos, Bried explained that the editors created illustrations of their experts — such as cosmochemist Meenakshi Wadhwa — based on childhood pictures so that little girls could see themselves in those careers. "They can think, 'She's just like me; maybe I can be a famous artist' or 'Maybe I can be a scientist studying meteorites,'" Bried added.
Kazoo's second issue, which will ship in October, promises more mazes and scavenger hunts, a photography lesson, an article on how to draw a monster, a parkour lesson from a professional stuntwoman and an original short story by Newbery Honor and National Book Award winner Polly Horvath. Other prominent women featured in the issue include primatologist Jane Goodall, biologist Lynn Adler, comic book artist Rosemary Valero-O'Connell and photographer Catherine Opie.
Why name the magazine after the kazoo? Bried says the inspiration came from looking at an old tin kazoo that was sitting on her daughter's bookshelf. "The beauty of the kazoo is that everybody already has what it takes to play one," she explained on the magazine's website. "Just breathe, and its loud, happy sound comes automatically. I want girls to feel the same way about their own voice — that they already have everything it takes to use it. There is a tremendous amount of power — and joy — in making noise," said Bried.
Here's to little girls — and big girls — who are ready to make a little noise.