It was the end of one of Peter Thiel’s signature classes at Stanford University. I usually wait around to see who stays back.
Sitting in the one of the seats, with her feet scrunched up against her slide-out desk in what had to be the most uncomfortable position I have ever seen, was my scoop Rebecca Krauthamer. I jumped over a row of seats and plopped myself down right next to her.
Then I asked whether she was doing a startup.
She looked at me and rolled her eyes, “Aren’t we all?”
Frustrated, I asked again.
“Well, I’m starting RM Magazine, the only fashion magazine for women that features realistic models.”
Realistic huh, what does the RM stand for?
“Role Model, because 17 to 25 year-old women need better models and role models than the intimidating unrealistic forms of beauty portrayed in today’s women’s magazines.”
Interesting, how did you come up with this idea??
Flipping through a bunch of images on Google, she showed me this, a picture of a plus-size model sitting in a throne. It was right then that I knew I had a story. Like the Lady Gaga of women magazines, Rebecca was sitting in her seat and I weirdly could not take my eyes off her.
“This picture inspired me.”
I looked from the picture to Rebecca then back to the picture than back to Rebecca.
I want my first story on Huffington Post to be on you.
“Whaat?!?” she looked at me perplexed.
Yes, this topic is controversial and juicy.
Next, Cameron Teitelman Founder of Stanford Accelerator StartX, who was sitting in a row above us and had listened to the whole thing, spoke up.
“Did you apply to StartX?” he asked Rebecca with a raised eyebrow.
“No, I didn’t think I would fit in with all the tech startups.”
He frowned and shook his head. “We accept all kinds of startups. We have a startup that’s also an online publication.”
He then went on to explain why he wanted to know and how he likes to find out why some startups do not apply.
Later that night, I met Rebecca again and her two other teammates, Sam Storey and Taylor Nguyen, down at Stanford’s Arrillaga Family Dining Commons, duly named for the school’s biggest donor John Arrillaga, a billionaire real estate mogul who had a number of buildings on campus named after him. We then scouted out a couch and I took out my signature iPad 2.
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
“The world portrays woman in a form of beauty that’s unrealistic. It leads to a culture in which their feelings about themselves and their bodies are always on the verge of a downward spiral.”
How do you intend to fix this?
“With RM Magazine, RM for role model which is a play on what a model should be. We are bringing attainable beauty to mainstream by showing woman who read Elle and Cosmopolitan that beauty is a very personalized ideal that varies from woman to woman across cultures.”
How is this going to change the world?
“Beauty will be a source of confidence rather than an anxiety. We will be changing the system from the inside out. Reaching woman that would never be interested in feminist magazines like Cosmo, Elle and Vogue.”
I thanked them for their time and asked whether they thought they might appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“Are you joking?!”
No, I said. Then I thought to myself, I wonder if the rest of the industry will realize what they have found. What better way to prey upon the low self-esteem of the world’s vulnerable young women than to create a way for them to view beauty as a source of confidence instead of anxiety. I feel another mainstream revolution coming, but this one comes on the heels of role models: healthy, twenty-first century pinup girls.