It can be difficult to find your voice as a teenager. But Julie Zeilinger wasn’t only outspoken about women’s rights, she gave other young women like her a platform to speak up.
The budding writer started the FBomb, a feminist blog, in 2009 and quickly received national attention for its stories on bullying, body image and sex education. She even scored an interview with Gloria Steinem, the leader of the feminist movement, for her first interview.
“When I started the blog, I felt like there wasn’t a robust conversation about feminism around teenagers in my community,” says Zeilinger, who was featured as one of Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People in 2011. “I felt that I was in a community that was willing to engage with it. I really found with my peers that a lot of them really hadn’t been educated about it, but they were always willing to talk to me about it.”
In 2014, the FBomb partnered with the Women’s Media Center, founded by Steinem, and continues to produce content that tackles health care, dress codes and reproductive rights.
Zeilinger, who also serves as the editor of MTV News’ Issues section, uses her passion for storytelling to keep the network’s young adult audience invested in timely and important topics such as hurricane victims, the transgender community and Dreamers.
“What I’m trying to do is tell the stories of the young people who are most affected by these issues and who are experiencing the things that we’re reading about in the headlines,” says Zeilinger, a Hawken School grad who was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2016.
With news breaking about Harvey Weinstein, Zeilinger says the number of women speaking out about sexual abuse is an example that feminism has gained traction in the last decade.
“The fact that all these women felt like they could come out and they would be believed is an example of feminist thought permeating our culture,” she says.