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.
Alison @ Girl With a Satchel