New Moon’s Rising For Girls Media: Orb28 For Teens 13-15+ (Part 1)

Orb28 Let’s see: Orb: “A sphere of influence, a collective body”…28: numeral referring to the moon’s cycle…New Moon: lunar phase when the moon orbits between the Earth and the Sun; Moon: a symbol of womanhood…

Okay, I’m beginning to get it now…As a name generation gal, I tend to dissect etymology for sport, but I admittedly glossed over New Moon Girl Media as simply a ‘line extension’ of Nancy Gruver’s award-winning New Moon magazine brand, without really delving deeper into the lore of Orb28 as a separate entity in itself.

This upcoming teen community is being billed as a ‘web experience’ which to me is a fancy way of saying they’re overhauling their tween anchor brand into a fresh, vibrant voice far beyond the original ad-free magazine of New Moon itself.

The signs are all there…the upbeat new look, the new media paid web model, the new street teams atwitter, teen and parent UGC blogs, even a Facebook group. Yep…This is the digital dawning of the age of Aquarius for New Moon…an older offshoot in a multimedia conversation.

So what’s a New Moon without a big cheese? Well, next month Founder/CEO Nancy Gruver will be speaking on a panel at the YPulse National mashup titled, “Are Girls the New Geeks?” (see sidebar) and today we’re interviewing Orb 28’s Managing Editor Lacey Louwagie, but the girls are the core focus here, and tomorrow we’ll hear from a few of the 28 teens ramped and ready to share their original work, (art, articles, attitudes, advice, you name it!)

The same New Moon mission to inspire, support, be heard and dare to dream has the potential to amplify via the internet, in a digitally safe haven for girls to interact freely on a global scale. It’s only a tiny sliver of the New Moon rising at Orb28, as girls grow forward to create a fairer world…

First, a pre-launch primer: (my editorial snapshot/POV)


Parent company founder/CEO Nancy Gruver (aka New Moon Girl Media Maven ) has orbited her staff, to spread out the star power, so that former Managing Editor of New Moon Lacey Louwagie is now heading up Orb28.


New Moon Girl Media is creating a unique online community called Orb28 for girls ages 13-15+ to blog, ask, ponder, share, query, produce and promote their own media collaboratively as they bring girls vital voices to the world. (now if I can just get my own daughter to jump into that sea of change!)


Launching by year’s end, Orb28 is eager to embrace teen/youth views on topics from health and body image to trends, school, advice, reviews and peer perspectives from around the globe. (their 28 GWEB lead writers span the USA, with a handful overseas, so encourage any girls you know to submit!)

Where? How?

Virtually, of course. The internet enables girls to collaborate, create content, team, mentor, guide, and share mutual experiences in diverse cultures from articles and poetry to podcasts and video creations…Shaping Youth is excited to swap skill sets with these teen teams and create community between our youth orgs, while opening eyes and minds in the process! Talk about ‘creative commons!’

Why? The time is ripe to nourish girls’ self-confidence and creativity in our media saturated culture with a safe haven girls (and parents!) can fully embrace to ‘let their hair down.’

Like Shaping Youth, Orb28 is using media itself as a powerful conduit for expression, authenticity, and purposeful change by adding meaningful voices into the mix that haven’t been heard loud enough over the din of mass media offerings. (adult voices often drown out firsthand youth experiences in sheer volume, but Orb28 reverses that model, with the girls taking the lead and ‘adult-on-call experts’ in an adjunct/ancillary/advisory role, so that’s very cool too)

And with that, I’ll move on to our Q&A interview, inviting any of the 28 GWEB teens who would still like to add their comments to ping me with their answers for tomorrow’s post…

We’ll kick off our mutual alliance by giving the Orb28 girls some of our own partner orgs to team with, as we share resources to create a more positive worldview for kids.

Shaping Youth Interviews Orb 28 Managing Editor Lacey Louwagie

Shaping Youth: How can Orb28 and New Moon Girl Media help shift role models away from ‘celebutantes’ toward admirable personas of merit/worth?

Orb28: As part of the media industry, we have a unique opportunity (and responsibility) to spread the word about girls and women who show the diversity of ways to be female. Just because mainstream media is obsessed with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears — (perpetuating the idea that this is all there is for girls to aspire to) — doesn’t mean that WE have to be. By highlighting girls and women who DO incredible things and THINK incredible thoughts, we offer a glimpse at another possibility for girls.

Not only that, but every offering from New Moon stands as its own testament to the possibilities that exist for girls, as it serves as a “microphone” for many individual girls’ voices.

Shaping Youth: Are there any ‘role models’ that your teen team repeatedly embrace in your organization’s ‘girl culture?’

Orb28: It’s not enough to talk about alternative role models; it’s the perpetuation of the celebrity culture girls are seeing in mainstream media; They’re talking about it at school, it’s part of the world we live in, so we give girls a place to dialog about the one-dimensional image of womanhood and to acknowledge it does have an impact on how we perceive ourselves.

Orb28 has a Powerful Women department (alternate role models) a Pop Culture Department (where girls offer commentary about what they’re seeing in the media around them) that kind of thing…

Shaping Youth: How have body image/appearance-based cues in media landed on girls in terms of self-worth/self-definition etc.?

Orb28: There’s definitely a lot more body-image awareness now, but that’s because we need it more than ever. The focus on women for their appearance has become worse. It’s epitomized in the Bratz line of dolls, which, rather than being pulled from the market, are continuously expanding their line so that girls can not only buy scantily-clad girl (teenage? Adult?) dolls, but “sexy” baby dolls with pouty lips, long eyelashes, and flashy outfits as well.

Barbie has taken her share of flak, but at least Barbie, even with an unattainable ideal of beauty, DOES things (“Pet Doctor,” “Baby Doctor,” etc.) whereas,Bratz’ only accessories are platform shoes and purses. No one can deny, that these dolls are hypersexualized, nor can they deny that they’re intended for girls under the age of 10. The fact that these dolls are still turning a profit speaks to the desensitization of our culture to sexualized images of girls and women; the outcry was minor because we’ve grown so used to women who look plastic on billboards, in magazines, on television, and in music videos.

Shaping Youth: It seems like the body image focus is amplified…Are we going forwards or backwards? Is Orb28 a place where girls can talk about this kind of stuff?

Orb28: I can’t speak for today’s girls, except to say that New Moon has received countless letters from girls who suffer with, or are watching friends suffer with, disordered eating as well as other stresses of attaining “perfection” (not having any time for themselves to just “do nothing” without raising the ire of teachers, friends, or parents).

Girls are still trying to attain perfection; they know the images they see aren’t real, but that doesn’t keep them from seeing them, or needing to process it and talk about it…I know perfection is unhealthy and unattainable, but I still feel an ache deep in my gut when I see a long, lanky model in a low-cut dress on a billboard: because I know girls are looking at it; I know guys are looking at it; and that nearly everyone who is looking at it sees an object where a human being should be.

The biggest danger for girls in our looks-obsessed culture seems to be shame or fear of their own humanity: eating is an object of stress and control; the scent of sweat must be covered with deodorant; body hair anyplace besides your head must be removed immediately…our bodies will continue to demand that we treat them as the organic, functioning, living organisms that they are, putting constant tension between perfection and humanity… My dream is to live in a time and place where all girls listen to their body’s needs first, where the culture’s demand for their perfection is seen for the unreasonable tyranny it is.

Shaping Youth: How does the ‘girl culture’ at New Moon feel about self-ascribed monikers trying to ‘debunk’ stereotypes, e.g., ‘she’s geeky,’ Ugly Betty, etc. and the ‘f-word, feminism’?

Is it too ‘loaded’ of a term for girls today?

Orb28: Oh boy; in general, the girls I’ve encountered through my work with New Moon HATE labels and balk against the idea that a girl can be put in one category, or that one category automatically entails belonging to another category (i.e.: likes baseball – tomboy; or wears makeup – boy crazy), and I love to see this resistance to being easily defined.

At the same time, girls *do* self label quite frequently: “I’m a band geek,” “I’m a feminist,” etc., which also seems healthy. It’s helpful to carve out a place for yourself by the use of labels, but it’s also important to remember you’re not stuck in that place you’ve carved out for yourself.

Shaping Youth: So ‘the f-word’ isn’t a labeling issue for Orb28, like I wrote about here?

Orb28: Well, we really get into dangerous territory when others are doing the labeling FOR the girl. I notice there only seem to be about four “types” of girls out there according to mainstream media: the sporty girl, the chic girl, the arty girl, the smart girl…I’ve met girls who run the gamut in their relationship with the word “feminism” during my five and a half years as an editor for New Moon. New Moon always allows the girl the opportunity to self-label; we never make the assumption that a girl who works with us accepts the feminist label just because New Moon is a feminist publication.

I’ve met girls who work with New Moon and don’t consider themselves feminist. I’ve met girls who do consider themselves feminist and get a lot of flak for it; and I’ve met girls who consider themselves feminist without many negative repercussions. As for me, I’m of the school that believes it’s the patriarchy’s distortion of feminism that has made girls and women reluctant to adopt the label, and I think that we need to embrace and reclaim it big-time. Part of that means having the bravery to be an “out” feminist if you do identify with the word, and showing the world our diversity.

That said, I would never pressure another, especially a girl, to adopt the label for herself, even if her belief system seems in line with feminism to me. That’s a call I can’t make for anyone else.

Shaping Youth: Any media favorites or positive picks to point to? (online/offline/TV etc.)

Orb28: I don’t watch much TV (probably not hard to guess why) but I used to really enjoy Joan of Arcadia for its exploration of spirituality without being preachy and for its multi-dimensional female characters, including the title character, Joan.

The media I consume the most are probably books and music, and I’m interested in any musician who’s willing to write her own stuff and mean it. Amy Ray, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kasey Chambers, Dar Williams, and Tori Amos are my favorites, but there’s a lot of great indie stuff out there too, like Alix Olson and Swati. As for books, I like the feminist speculative fiction writers like Margaret Atwood and Sherri S. Tepper, am a big fan of feminist magazines (especially Off Our Backs and Bitch) and I love sassy feminist blogs like feministing and jezebel…

Shaping Youth: As it gets closer to your launch, we’ll talk further about your creative process and the girls’ ideas for Orb28, but is there any outreach in pre-launch where we can lend a hand or our readers can get involved?

Orb28: We’d love for you to distribute our teen submission guidelines to anyone who works with teen girls. We even have a “health” department, which fits particularly well with your audiences for the Stanford/Kaiser and Two Angry Moms events so there’s Shaping Youth overlap on the body image and nutrition…We also have “adult on-call experts” who agree to answer health and other related advice questions from girls, so anyone who is interested in doing that can get in touch with me!

Shaping Youth: Count me in…In fact, I’ll post the guidelines here so our teen alliance orgs don’t miss them or need to drill down into links to find ’em…Thanks, Lacey.

Tomorrow when I post some of the Orb28 teen comments I’ll also post our sister channel/partner orgs and other media alliances to see where our teen teams might help each other.

Shaping Youth covers the media marketing machine to boys, too, so it would be interesting to have a body image ‘townhall’ type of teen podcast or video forum…I can think of a lot of fun reviews and analysis of the pop culture zeitgeist from BOTH genders!

Are You Ready to Write for Orb28? Show ‘Em Your Stuff!

Shaping Youth is also seeking School Stringers/Correspondents of both genders, so we’ll no doubt share our media resources on the teen scene. Proud to align and affiliate with ya…looking forward!

Orb28 Submission Guidelines

1. You must be a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to submit work to New Moon’s online experience. We’re especially interested in work from girls ages 13 — 15.

2. You may submit creative writing, personal essays, informative articles, poetry, fiction, podcasts, videos, interviews, reviews, music, artwork, or games.
a) written pieces should be between 150 — 1500 words and submitted as a .doc, .pdf, or .rtf file.
b) Audio pieces should be submitted as .mp3 files.
c) Video pieces should be submitted as .mov or .aif files saved at 640 x 480 pixels per inch and should use the mono-audio sound setting. If your video is 5 minutes or less, the file size should be 10 MB or less. If your video is between 5 — 10 minutes, the file size should be between 10 — 20 MB. If your video is longer than 10 minutes, please divide it into segments so we can feature it as a series. Videos should be your own creation and must not use clips from copyrighted material, including visual and audio material.
d) Artwork must be your own original work and should be submitted as a .jpg file.
e) Submission file sizes should never exceed 10 MB.

3. Orb28 especially encourages submissions about the following topics:

Politics & Current Events – 360 degrees of ideas, opinions, and issues, especially shedding light on how political issues affect girls and women.

Health – Accurate and interesting information about physical, mental, spiritual, and sexual health. Includes a regular health advice column.

Powerful Women – Highlights the achievements of modern women and women throughout history. Recognizes women with strong minds, strong bodies, strong beliefs, and strong opinions who follow their personal goals as they live their lives.

Finances – Helps girls learn about earning, spending, and saving money responsibly. Includes regular stories about/from “working girls”

Fashion – Fashion doesn’t have to be degrading to women — we’re showcasing innovative ways to make and wear cool clothes, make-up and hair.

Entertainment & Media – Shows women in the media who are powerful and includes lots of media reviews.

Friends & Relationships

Pop Culture – Explores, critiques, and reflects on our popular culture. Includes a regular “phenomenon of the week” feature where a girl writes about a fad in pop culture, how she feels about the fad, and why she thinks it has wide appeal.

School & Careers – provide tips, advice, and information about middle school, high school, college, and a variety of careers.

Technology – provides up-to-date information and reviews of the latest technology and encourages the use of technology amongst girls and women.

4. Orb28 is a place where all girls can feel safe and accepted. Therefore, we will not accept work that contains hate speech or images or sounds that show prejudice.

5. We will not post work that plagiarizes or violates copyright laws. That means
– Written work must all be in your own words. If you quote someone else in written work, you must give credit for the quotation.
– Audio work cannot contain copyrighted dialogue or music, except in short clips of 30 seconds or less.
– Videos must not contain copyrighted music, movie clips, or images.
– Visual artwork must not contain copyrighted images or text.

There are certain situations in which you can use copyrighted work without violating copyright laws. This is called “fair use.” To learn more about fair use and copyright, please visit and

If you’re unsure whether something you want to use violates copyright laws, it’s best to be safe and not use the copyrighted material. It’s more interesting if you come up with something of your own, anyway.

6. To learn how to submit your work, email: We will not accept submissions inquiries by telephone.

· Note: New Moon will never publish any identifying information, such as your full name, address, phone number, or city on the internet. In fact, we require that you choose a “screen-name” which will be your pseudonym on orb28 if we post your work.

· When you submit work to orb28, one of our editors will send you a confirmation email to let you know we got it. If you don’t get a confirmation email within two weeks of sending your submission, please email to make sure we received it.

· All work sent to orb28 becomes the property of New Moon Girl Media. orb28 editors will consider your piece for orb28 first, but may pass it on to The New Moon Club for Girls or New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams if it seems like a better fit. If a New Moon publication other than orb28 decides to use your work, you will be notified by the publication’s editors.

If you wish your work to be considered for orb28 only, please specify that when you submit.

· Adults: We publish adult work on orb28 by “invitation only.” However, if you’re interested in being an “adult consultant” to write responses to advice columns, please send your complete name, email address, and a list of your areas of expertise to

—Orb28 Managing Editor Lacey Louwagie



  1. Thanks for covering orb28. And for promoting me to “big cheese” – I imagine I’ll never hear the end of that, now!

  2. Yah, I thought twice about it, especially since you’re so self-effacing, but hey…after 15 years as the visionary behind the concept, you will ALWAYS be the big cheese of New Moon…

    ‘Sorry about that chief’ (as Don Adams used to say in ‘Get Smart’!! Ah, the power of media …;-)

    Good luck in the new venture, see you at the Ypulse Mashup.

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