Most days, I feel that running a teen magazine is a pretty insignificant job. Compared to firefighters, doctors and teachers, what I do is pretty dumb. What I do will never be even 1/10th as important as what they do. But today it feels a little more important.
I started NKD when I was 17. The majority of people reading it at the time were roughly my age. But now I'm 22 and a lot of the people reading it are still 17. A lot of them are girls. And that puts a lot of responsibility on me as the Editor-In-Chief - and I don't take that power lightly.
It's why I chose someone like Troian Bellisario to be on our cover. Because she has been open and honest about her struggles with anorexia, and just last week spoke beautifully about why Hillary Clinton's plan to ensure mental health support for all Americans mattered. She rallied at the DNC and she wasn't afraid to share it on her socials. I hope at least one little girl who saw her on the cover felt empowered to address her own eating disorder and find the help she needed.
It's why I chose someone like Emily Bett Rickards to be on the cover. Because she has used her position as a public figure to fight for good and worked to raise money for autoimmune disease research. I hope at least one girl who saw her on the cover felt empowered to use her own voice for good and help people who need it.
It's why I chose to put someone like Kelsea Ballerini on the cover. Because she was told "no" time and time again and it didn't stop her from chasing her dreams. She kept pushing forward and is now breaking records for female musicians. I hope at least one little girl who saw her on the cover felt empowered to not give up on their goals - no matter how many men in suits tell her she can't achieve them.
It's why I chose to put someone like Katie Stevens on the cover. Because she has become an incredible ally for the LGBTQ+ community through her role on Faking It and hasn't stop fighting for them, even though her show was cancelled. I hope at least one little girl who saw her on the cover felt empowered to hold out their hand to someone whose voice may not be as loud, or whose rights may not be given to them at birth.
It's why I chose to put someone like Zendaya on the cover. Because she has been a true advocate for young women, black women, and every woman. Because she is not afraid to call people out for racist remarks or extensive Photoshop. I hope at least one little girl who saw her on the cover felt empowered to stop looking to major media for validation on how they look.
It's why I chose to put someone like Jana Kramer on the cover. Because she has spoken up about her past abuse and how it affects her still. And because she has channeled those emotions productively into music and dance. I hope at least one little girl who saw her on the cover feels empowered to report her abuse if it happens to her one day.
It's why I chose to put someone like Debby Ryan on the cover. Because she also has spoken up about her past abuse - but the hidden kind that hides in words and actions said and done by friends - not lovers - and doesn't leave a bruise. Because she makes mistakes and she owns up to them instead of running. I hope at least one little girl who saw her on the cover felt empowered to break away from the toxic relationships in their life.
It's why I chose to put a group like Fifth Harmony on the cover. Because they have become a voice for women of all races. Because they celebrate their sexuality and their various cultures and they do not apologize for either. Because they celebrate sisterhood. I hope at least one little girl who saw them on the cover, saw that one of them looked like her, and felt empowered to team up with other girls - regardless of what they look like - and work together to empower others.
NKD is an entertainment magazine - that's it. We aren't giving beauty tips or life advice, and we're certainly not talking about politics. In every issue you will find 10 or more profile pieces on actors, musicians, dancers, influencers, etc. There is no groundbreaking journalism hidden in our pages. We are simple, digestible and on the surface, pretty superficial. But man do I hope that at least one of the 10 million of you who have flipped through an issue of NKD online have found someone in those pages that inspires you. Just one and I've done my job. Just one and my job matters.