Mags: SHOP Girl vs Barack Obama

Guest Glossy Review

As a tween, I would have eaten up SHOP
Girl like Coco Pops. With a penchant for pop culture and pretty things, I was a marketer’s dream, trading Sweet Secrets on the school stock exchange, dressing up paper dolls, playing ‘shops’ in my spare time and begging mum for something new to wear on “mufty days”.

But times, they are a changin’, and I have a (Converse) sneaking suspicion that
today’s parents, knowing what they know, are all too sensitive about how their progeny are marketed to. So, is SHOP Girl harmless sugar and spice, or a sinister attempt to turn tween girls into hyper-materialistic consumers devoid of culture, creativity, intelligence and imagination; the mag equivalent of Coco Pops, luring girls in with the artificial sweetness only to rot their brains?

To presume the latter would suggest that
parents, schools and other role models aren't as powerful a presence in tween lives as the media, while the former would negate the fact that the age at which girls start to feel pressure about their appearance is getting younger. Sometimes good intentions get misconstrued, so, as I'm firmly on the fence, I put this one to guest reviewer and mum Alison Kennedy. Here's what she came up with...

SHOP Girl isn't merely a magazine: it's a
"freaking community service". It wants to save the time of busy parents by giving us "827 ideas, updates and pieces she'll want to live in", encourage age-appropriate dressing ("eight-year-old Lucia Scott has a wardrobe most grown-ups would envy") and help inter-generational communication ("try saying... you're so channeling Sharpay right now"). With these altruistic aims in mind, and mindful that, as mum to an eight-year-old girl I'm the magazine's target reader, I give the mag a look.

In summary, SHOP Girl apes the formula of big
sister SHOP Til You Drop, except that the merchandise is tween-specific and there's a dedicated section just for tweens, too. Take a sneak peek inside 'J4U' and you'll find Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Kaia Gerber and Lourdes Leon – apparently all aspirational fashionistas for Gen-Z. It also educates the girls in the language of SHOP senior, enlisting concepts such as 'Steal Her Style', 'retail therapy', 'obsessions', 'must-haves' and 'Splurge v Steal'.

It's undeniably cute, colourful, girlie and fun. There's a mother/daughter fashion spread; lots of bright accessories; book, video and MP3 reviews; bedroom styling ideas; a DIY tee shirt story; and a feature which asks if your tween is too young to enlist a skin-care regime. It's upbeat and cheerful and the layouts are inspired.

But will mums buy into the concept? To put it into context, I've compiled a convenient comparative table for you to consider, pitting Barack Obama's advice to school children with the advice of SHOP Girl, so you can decide...


Glossy posse: Malia Obama, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift...
Glossy stats: Issue #1; spring/summer 2009; 172 pages; $7.95; lots of advertorial and a Just Jeans catalogue insert
Blosses: Justine Cullen, ACP Magazines
Glossy ads: Just Jeans, David JOnes, Peace Street, Popits, Mooo
Glossy rating: 2 - Perhaps not. Preserve her childhood, free-thinking and self-esteem and buy her a sweet treat instead.

Yours truly,
Alison @ Girl With a Satchel

17 comments:

Rachel Hills said...

This is gold. Loved it.

Ugly Betty said...

This magazine is evil, pure evil.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be a party pooper, but I don't really understand this magazine review. And comparing a fun fashiony mag to the words of Barack Obama... apples and oranges much?

AB said...

Oh that was GOLD!

Kitty said...

Genius post - love the Obama comparisons! I am so glad I'm not a teenager in the 21st century. I was absolutely clueless about fashion until I was about 20. Sure, I look a bit of a fashion tragedy in all my teenage photos but I think I was a lot happier not worrying about that stuff!

Anonymous said...

I found the Barack Obama comparison irrelevant.

L said...

You do have to question the market for this magazine. No mother would buy it for their child - they already are bombarded with ads, why introduce another source to pester you with?

For me, the Obama comparison is about comparing some really, positive messages from a great speaker with the silly messages in the magazine. Why would anyone PAY to expose their child to this rubbish?

Our culture really pushes consumerism onto children. It pushes this stuff without discussing the downside with them. (ie. if you spend all your money on clothes then you'll never have any security because you'll have no savings and you can't leave a job you hate because you are so in debt... or is that just me?)

If there were articles in this mag about how saving your money is a good idea and how hard it is for your parents to have any spare cash to buy this stuff and how as a kid you really should be just having fun and doing your own stuff and not being told what is cool and what is not... then I'd still not buy it

delamare said...

I am also the target market for this mag (I have an 11 year old daughter who is getting very aware of clothes and how she wants to present herself). I absolutely won't be buying it for me or for her, even though it's a chocolate box of pretty things.

She is getting bombarded with enough messages about consumption and the way to look - why feed it more!

And I'm not a party pooper. I LOVE magazines (that's why I am a daily visitor to GWAS), and have purchased mags all my life, from Beaut and Pink when I was a 'tweenie' myself waaaay back in the mid-1970s. I also love clothes, and am interested in fashion. It's a fun thing to share with my daughter - along with many other things we share together. I just refuse to introduce the whole message of consumption above all else to her at this formative stage in her development.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree Anonymous, you took the words out of my mouth (re: apples and oranges) - it's a MAGAZINE!!! To help mothers, and to a lesser extent fathers and brothers of tween girls,understand what their tween is all about in terms of her style, her room, her obsession and to help interact with their daughter/sibling - and for girls of the relevant age group - they were ecstatic to see this magazine because there's nothing really like it out there for their age group! Barack Obama as a president has a very different message, than a magazine does. Shop didn't claim to be the leader of the free world, so why compare it to him?
And from someone in the know - this idea didn't come out of thin air - it was a direct call from mothers out there who love Shop Til You Drop and wanted something just the same for their girls. There are far worse "roll-models" out there for tweens than Shop Girl!

bee said...

Oh my God I read this magazine today in borders with a mixture of horror and fascination. I really resent being made to feel inadequate by the tween progeny of fashion publicists (thanks lucia). I am so sad for eight-year-olds today if this is what they're up against. And sad for their mums and dads too who have to foot the bill for all that loot.

Anonymous said...

To the third anonymous comment ... it sounds like you work for STYD. Just how many mothers begged to have this magazine published? Doesn't sound like any of the dozens of mums I know with daughters of this age. Sounds more like someone did lots of sums re advertising dollars and advertorials, and that's why they decided to go for it ... not as some service to the community.

And surely spending time with your tweenie daughter and, um, talking to her is a good way of understanding her current style/obsessions? Works in this household.

Anonymous said...

I seriously didn't get it. What was the point of the article? They should have just cut out all of Shop Girl's inane "advice".

scd said...

I saw this magazine the other day and bought it. I have to admit that I bought it for myself though, and I am childless. I would actually wear most of those clothes myself. There is no innocence in them at all. They are still making the kids out to be mini-adults. The editorial is hilarious. The most sickening part of it though was the interview with the 8 year old who already talks like a 18 year old and knows all the latest and greatest (and most expensive) fashion brands.

Anonymous said...

I saw this magazine the other day and bought it. I have to admit that I bought it for myself though, and I am childless. I would actually wear most of those clothes myself. There is no innocence in them at all. They are still making the kids out to be mini-adults. The editorial is hilarious. The most sickening part of it though was the interview with the 8 year old who already talks like a 18 year old and knows all the latest and greatest (and most expensive) fashion brands.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry.. all those pre-teens that read the mag will soon find their way onto the vogue forums in a few years time and continue the crass commercialism and materialism sentiment.

Yellow said...

Gulp. I can't helping thinking that girls should be steered away from this stuff until about 12. By all means let them read Total Girl and articles about Hannah Montana, but please let's keep them away from gratuitous 'advice' on how they should be stylish and fashionable. They've got all their lives to be told how unstylish and lacking they are by magazines.

Anonymous said...

I found the comparrisons to Barrack Obama's advice totally irrelevant and absolutely ridiculous- it's a shopping magazine people, not words to live your life by! I thought it was a cute and fun magazine worth a few giggles. I don't really see what all the fuss is about actually...