At 17-years-old, she has already appeared on the “Today” show, been published in The New York Times, been featured in Teen Vogue and is a writer for The Huffington Post.
This year, Justina Sharp has added another item to her long resume: American River College student.
Sharp says her long journey to notoriety began when she started a fashion blog at age 13.
“In 2010, I started my fashion blog. I was 13 and I basically started because my mom said I wouldn’t do it,” said Sharp. “I had to prove her wrong.”
Sharp said she was interested in fashion from when she was little.
“I loved Tyra Banks and I wanted to be like her,” said Sharp. “I dressed up as Tyra in the fourth grade for career day. Some of my friends were models and I started to see the way their industry works. Then I thought ‘I don’t want to be a model. I want to be in charge.’”
Sharp updated her blog, A Bent Piece of Wire, for several years until she tweeted at Andrew Bevan, the style editor of Teen Vogue, and got a response.
Bevan subsequently contacted her about being featured in an article about “small town fashion bloggers.”
“I answered the questions, forgot about it, and then all of a sudden I had this issue of Teen Vogue in my hands with the picture,” said Sharp. “I was like ‘whoa, this is legit.’”
Sharp then reached out to The Huffington Post after seeing that they were looking for teenage writers.
“They were like ‘yeah, sure you can come do that for us,’ so I did and I think my first story for them was on my photoshoot for the Disney Channel for ‘Teen Beach Movie,’” said Sharp.
Sharp wrote a piece for The Huffington Post about her thoughts on the image that the Barbie dolls present to women and girls.
“Every once in a while the argument comes up that Barbie is affecting body image, like of teenage girls,” said Sharp. “I feel that’s much more of an adult projected thing.”
Sharp was then contacted by a publicist for Mattel, who put her in touch with The New York Times.
Her opinion piece, “Barbie Is a Positive Role Model, and a Legend,” was published on Feb. 12, 2014. In it, Sharp said that Barbie actually improves the self-esteem of young women.
“She shows little girls that they can do it all, even become an astronaut if they please, and do it all in sparkles,” said Sharp in the Times.
NBC’s “Today” contacted Sharp after the article’s publication, asking if she would appear on the show to discuss her views with Jewel Moore, a teenage girl from Virginia who circulated a petition to Disney for them to create a “plus-sized princess.”
“I think that the idea behind the story was that we were gonna argue on national television at like 9 o’clock in the morning, and it just didn’t happen,” said Sharp. “We made sense, we made sense to each other. We came somewhere together. What she’s saying makes sense, we’re not going to fight.”
Justina was homeschooled by her mother and graduated high school at the end of her junior year. This is her second semester at ARC.
Sharp said she likes the freedom provided by writing regularly for The Huffington Post, on whose website she has provided coverage of the Kids’ Choice Awards.
In Los Angeles, she has had the opportunity to speak with Josh Hutcherson of “The Hunger Games” fame among others. Sharp said she tries to ask more relatable questions than other journalists covering young adult stars.
“For that ten minutes we’re talking, I’m your homie. We are friends,” said Sharp. “I don’t care about your new TV show. I don’t care about what movie you’re in right now or about what designer you’re wearing. Just tell me about you.”
Sharp said she has plenty of help from her parents in her endeavors. Her father drove her to Los Angeles for the Kids’ Choice Awards and her mother, Heike, accompanied her to New York for the “Today” interview.
“We spend a lot of time together on a daily basis, so these trips are like a working vacation for me,” said Heike. “Justina is where she is on her own volition … So, when she goes to New York or Los Angeles to work, she knows what she is doing.”
Justina is not only an entertainment journalist and blogger. She is also a California ambassador for 4-H Club, a youth organization run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Heike said she wanted to get her children involved in 4-H Club because of the atmosphere provided by the organization.
“It is really a family program. We began homeschooling, and became more heavily involved,” said Heike. “I like that it is inclusive. There are wonderful people involved who share their talents.”
Justina said that the 4-H club gives her different experiences from her life in media.
“People see my fashion blog and think I’m super glamorous,” said Justina. “I’m a camp director. I spend a week in the mountains with 10-year-olds. We get really muddy and it’s funny because I’m just like ‘I would never go out in public.’”