When my 12 year old daughter finished year six, we had an end of primary school disco party on our apartment building’s rooftop. They danced and giggled; my main concern was if there was enough food.
That party would also be a farewell to innocence. Within six months, she’d been invited to a 13 year old’s harbour boat party with the invite warning: “No alcohol. Bags will be searched.” She’d feel the peer pressure to have sex. And she’d smoke and drink.
In an article in The Daily Telegraph on the weekend, parenting expert Steve Biddulph argued that 14 is the new 18, and girls are under unprecedented pressure.
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Sometimes I just want to watch a TV show. That’s it - just watch it and enjoy it. Shallow aren’t I.
Sure, during Downton thoughts about class and sexism sometimes bubble to the surface. When I catch MKR I’m aware I’m being sold a formula. And of course as a dominant cultural medium TV is going to come in for a bit of cultural analysis every now and again.
But there’s a difference between that and ruining good TV with a constant stream of scene-by-scene examination of the motives and significance of every, single, utterance.
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Apparently Bieber fever has a new symptom: emotional blackmail. Justin Bieber is eighteen years old and supposedly last week smoked a joint. In response, his fans (prompted by a cruel hoax) have taken to Twitter in the #cutforbieber campaign, which at its core says “you stop doing drugs, we’ll stop cutting”.
The internet has been flooded with images of mutilated arms, real and fake, in a strange bid to save Bieber from himself. The trolls that started this are sick and have a lot to answer for.
This whole situation brings up a number of problems, the most serious of which is the way it has thrust cutting into the public eye whilst simultaneously downplaying its severity, and, even worse, making it the butt of jokes. Those who started encouraging fans to “cut for Bieber” but they couldn’t have picked a more vulnerable target.
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It was different back in year seven when none of us really read magazines like Cleo or Cosmopolitan. The girls in my year at my all-girls college were just like me: we didn’t wear makeup, we didn’t obsess over clothes, and we didn’t judge others based on appearance so much.
Most of us were just disappointed that there was no playground or school oval we could access at lunchtime. It was a year of big transitions, certainly, but it was also the year that I would miss the most during the remainder of my time at high school.
All too soon we became addicted to magazines like Cleo and Cosmopolitan.
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Thirty years ago Nell Schofield played Debbie in the film adaptation of Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette’s book Puberty Blues. The new television series of Puberty Blues starts tonight on Ten.
Back in 1981, the world was a different place. There was no internet, no mobile phones and having unprotected sex wasn’t a potentially lethal activity. With the advent of HIV AIDS, wearing condoms became a whole lot more critical.
Safe abortion clinics became legal in most countries but we are at risk of going back to the dark ages with the rise of reactionary politics. We need to do all we can to help girls grow up to be the best they can be, even if they choose to put off having a family or not have one at all.
There is a societal pressure on girls to marry and have children. But having kids often knocks women out of the work force and many never return.
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Every time another group of parents throw their arms up in despair at the kind of clothing on offer for young girls at the big discount department and chain stores, it’s tempting to think these outlets have totally misread their market.
Target is the latest in the firing line, after a concerned mother put a comment on the retailer’s Facebook page on the weekend pleading with them to provide more age-appropriate girls clothing. Almost immediately her comment had attracted tens of thousands of “likes”. Take that Target!
Where are the Facebook campaigns for “shorter shorts for six-year-olds”, ha? Well, they don’t exist, and if they did they’d be a bigger story than this one.
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Tomorrow, my darling, you turn 12; a girl, still. But sometime when I wasn’t paying attention, the pudgy-cheeked baby skipped away and here you are, a soft sketch of the woman you’re going to be.
I want to freeze-frame you so I can say all the things I’ve missed, that the words may be indelibly inked like a suit of armour around your soul. But soon it’ll be your own voice, not mine, that matters most. So here’s something to pop in your pocket or file on your bedroom floor: 12 things I want you to know on your 12th birthday.
Your body is the only one you’ll ever have. How blessed are you, that it works perfectly and has barely given you a moment’s pain. Some people aren’t so lucky, so respect it – even when those around you are hating theirs. I can’t protect you from the stinging winds of the beauty storm about to strike your shores, but don’t take the weather with you. Photographs, as we’ve shown you, are not truth.
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If gyrating, giggling girls pouting amid suggestive splashes of pinkness and wetness doesn’t turn boys onto science, what will?
A new European Commission campaign is trying to harness the power of young male libidos to drag them remorselessly into the science industry. We know sex sells, and the way to sell something to all those hormonally entrapped young men out there is to suggest that if they do what we say, somewhere along the line a woman may just want to sleep with them. They’ll fall for that, right?
The EC created this somewhat sultry advertisement with smiling, strutting young lasses, sashaying along with short skirts and sky-high stilettos. Phwoar.
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Click on the video below. I dare you. If you’re brave enough, watch it all the way to the end.
Eck. It probably doesn’t “light up your world like nobody else” does, but you’re hardly the target audience. Over the past few months the hit song of visiting teenybopper supergroup One Direction has lit up the musical worlds of the 8 to 16 year female demographic. Simultaneously, it’s lit a fuse of ridiculousness that’s threatening the sanity of Australian parents and people of good music taste alike.
The national tweenage hysteria alert level rose to amber yesterday as the band, cobbled together by pop mastermind Simon Cowell, flew into the country for a concert series and a gig at the Logie Awards.
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Today’s message to young women is: All girls are beautiful. But some are more beautiful than others. Oh, and frankly – you over there! – you don’t make the grade at all. What the hell’s going on with those eyebrows? What is this? 2008?
In a world awash with far too many beautiful girls (for the purposes of this article for ‘beautiful’ read ‘fully coiffed, immaculately made-up, grain-fed, and catwalk-ready) today we also have the announcement of the 2011 Girlfriend Rimmel Model Search winner. You can meet the finalists here.
UPDATE: The winner was 13-year-old Irish, Croatian and Pacific Islander and Sydneyite Chloe Glassie. And she has braces!
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Now the fabulously strict ‘Tiger Mother’ and law professor Amy Chua is a busy woman over the other side of the world. But thankfully she put all her parenting know-how into her tidy little book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
So I decided it would be entirely appropriate to use the book as an Oracle from which one can glean wisdom on the topic at hand by randomly picking quotes.
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Embrace your inner (or outer) slut, reclaim the word, reclaim the night, take to the streets. But watch out for the unintended consequences of the planned SlutWalk rallies.
Passionate protestors too often get caught up in their own hype and do themselves and their chosen issue an enormous disservice.
Last week a father who just wanted access to his children instead earned the wrath of a city after his one-man protest closed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and left irate drivers stuck in traffic for hours.
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A funny thing – actually, make that a frilly thing – happened on the way to the feminist revolution.
Just as women started to get a better deal at home, at school and in the boardroom, our girl children have been hijacked by a foe more flouncy than any which has come before.
It is the colour pink and it is being worn – probably in frothing tutu form – by a micro-Cinderella near you.
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Seen at the local pool: two bikini-clad girls – around 14 - simulating a sex act in the toddler pool, then pole dancing under the toadstool fountain while their delighted boyfriends recorded (and possibly distributed) the footage on their mobile phones.
It wouldn’t have happened back in the day, and that’s not just because we didn’t have the technology for it.
Am I wearing rose-coloured glasses, or were most early-teen girls in the 80s too scared of the Grim Reaper, and just too generally innocent, to put much more than a toe in the water (with a boy or a girl) - let alone cavort around in it in broad daylight like amateur porn stars, then plaster the evidence as far and wide as technology would allow (which wasn’t very far).
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A Melbourne couple’s decision to abort twin boys conceived through IVF – the weekend’s flashpoint news story – is a can of worms, a hornets’ nest and a Mandelbrot set of ethical complexity all in one.
The couple, after the death of their first baby girl, wasn’t happy with the twins’ gender and is now in the midst of legal action to pre-determine the sex of their next IVF baby.
Which, you might be surprised to learn, we can do nowadays. Some medical industry smart arse has even rebranded it ‘family balancing’.
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