Local girl featured in popular tween magazine
By Katie Scarvey
Anna Tonseth has the kind of life that a lot of middle school girls would probably love. She keeps busy, especially with sports, and she likes to hang out with friends, both human and critter.
She shares her life not only with her family but also with a cat, a dog, a rabbit, a hermit crab, a gerbil, a dwarf hamster and a frog. She used to have a couple of chickens ó Tater and Tot ó but they got too big and she had to find a new home for them.
Anna is just the kind of girl that Discovery Girls magazine is interested in, not only as a reader but as a real live girl to feature on their pages.
An eighth grader at Sacred Heart Academy, Anna was selected to appear in the October/November issue of “Discovery Girls” magazine, which features girls from North Carolina.
The magazine, as the cover states, is “created by girls, for girls,” which is one of the things Anna liked about it when she first saw a copy. The magazine is marketed to girls 8 and up ó a demographic commonly called ‘tweens.
“We look for girls who will be good role models for their peers and who have something interesting to say,” said Associate Editor Julia Clause, who reviewed the North Carolina applications.
“We received so many wonderful questionnaires from our North Carolina readers! It was difficult to pick only 12. They all have so much personality and enthusiasm.”
The edition Anna is in is billed as a “special BFF issue” and features 12 girls ages 9-12. The girls are identified by first name only.
The cover includes blurbs such as “Boys can make great friends! (Find out how),” “Cute New Hairstyles” and “Stand Up for Yourself.”
And of course there’s a helping of ‘tween-friendly celebrities: Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus.
When the magazine announced that it was looking for girls from North Carolina to feature, Anna decided to apply ó and so did about 1,200 other girls.
Those odds don’t sound that great, but Anna got creative with her application questionnaire, doing hers as sort of a scrapbook. She sent it off in January.
Among other things, she was asked to write about her dreams for the future, her most embarrassing moment, her coolest quality and what celebrity she would hang out with if she could. That answer was easy for her ó Taylor Swift.
She also wrote about what she feels is the biggest obstacle facing young people: the media, because they present the “perfect image” of what a girl should be like, she says, which “is not really the perfect image.”
What’s important is “how you are and not how they want you to be” she explains.
In March, Anna found out that she had been among the 12 girls chosen for the magazine.
She then had to fill out another questionnaire ó about what kind of clothes she liked to wear, what sports she played ó and send pictures.
In April, she traveled to Wilmington for a photo shoot with the other 11 girls.
Phyllis Tonseth, Anna’s mother, says that Anna’s older sister, Maria, 19, also wanted to go to Wilmington.
“My sister was excited,” Anna says. “She wanted to go to the photo shoot with us.”
That didn’t happen, so she contented herself, Phyllis says, with buying out the magazine at the Target in Chapel Hill, where she goes to college.
Brother Philip, 16, wasn’t nearly as interested.
Anna enjoyed her moment in the sun.
“It was fun,” she says of the Wilmington experience.
The first day Anna and the other girls took a self-defense class taught by a soldier from Fort Bragg.
“He taught us how how to punch and kick,” Anna says.
On Saturday, pictures were taken for the profiles of the girls that would appear in the magazine. They also took many shots of the girls, from which a cover would be selected.
Anna didn’t mind all the picture-taking, although she says her jaws did get tired.
One thing she liked was getting to wear some cool jewelry from Nordstrom.
Anna was a little disappointed not to be one of the girls who made the cover, but she shows up plenty inside the magazine.
Her picture appears several times ó showing different emotions, as she was asked to do ó in one section about friendship issues.
Along with the other girls, she got to decide “What’s Hot in North Carolina.”
That includes, among other things, long necklaces, rope bracelets, skinny jeans, skirts with leggings, Ugg boots, Taylor Swift, messenger bags and the phrase “That’s beastly.”
In her profile picture in the magazine, Anna is holding a basketball, since it’s one of her two favorite sports.
“Sports help me feel good about myself and stay fit,” says Anna in a statement that appears with the photo.
The best part about the Wilmington weekend, she says, was “meeting new people.”
In fact, she continues to keep in touch with several of the girls she met who are from Charlotte.
When she’s not spending time in photo shoots, Anna says she plays a lot of sports ó including tennis, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, tumbling and golf.
Her dream vacation, as she told the magazine, is going to a horse ranch in Montana with her friend Maggie Habeeb.
She’s already decided where she wants to go to college: The University of Tennessee. She visited the campus in 2008 when she was in an AAU Junior Olympics track and field competition ó the long jump.
“Discovery Girls” magazine is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. It was launched in 2000 and currently has a readership of more than 800,000 girls nationwide and abroad.
It is sold in Barnes & Nobles, Borders, Waldenbooks and many mass-market outlets such as Walmart, Target, grocery stores and drugstores.
The magazine has received several ipaParenting Media awards and Parents’ Choice awards. It is the best-selling kids’ magazine in Canada and is number 4 on Barnes & Nobles Children and Family List.