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Category: Magazines

Christmas Wish….

Don’t steal childhood away this christmas:  

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Love, light and laughter at Christmas and always…

Danni and the Enlighten Education Executive Team –

Fran, Sonia, Storm, and Jane XXXX

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Christmas gifts for girls…the good and the very, very UGLY!

Why is it that every toy catalogue that lists gifts for girls then offers up Bratz, Barbies, kitchen sets, and pages of pink? I know some of it is definitely fun. Teyah (my 8 year old daughter) has the oh so cute “Littlest Pet Shop” high on her list – but be warned Santa – no Bratz here thank you very much! I found the image below for Sportz Bratz in the latest Target catalogue – can someone please tell me how the last doll plays sport in fishnets, killer high heels and a midrif top?  

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I have been wanting to buy a few alternative gifts that offer all the little girls I LOVE something more and thought I’d share my findings with you.

Indigo Girls. Australian magazine written by young girls with a little help from a few passionate women. No airbrushing – beauty in all shapes and sizes! What about subscribing? indigo-subscription-form.pdf

Faking It. Special one off magazine that reflects the body of academic research on magazines, mass media and the sexual objectification of women. For 16+? Ideal too for a parent with a teenage daughter who wants to know the truth behind the glossy mag’s. Order through Women’s Australia Forum.    

2007-12-06-1003-55_edited.jpgIndigo Dreaming positive affirmation cards for children (as seen left and published with permission in My Photos). These are just beautiful and each boxed set contains an instruction booklet outlining ways in which these can be used to empower children to think positively. I bought mine at Dymocks but the Indigo Kidz web site allows you to order on line.   

You Go Girl. Gorgeous little bright book that celebrates each girls beauty and strength. I have seen mini-versions at most newsagents; publication details are in my Library. Speaking of which… there are loads of other brilliant reads in there that would also make amazing gifts.   

Wonder Woman action figures and merchandise. Actually, these are really on my Wish List! I am in lust with a poster I have just seen on the Ms. Magazine’s site – they have a whole section for WW merchandise 🙂 

Piggy Bank– I love encouraging girls (and boys!) to save and become financially independent.  I bought Teyah’s best friend Christen a butterfly Piggy Bank for her Birthday recently and she loved it – she is filling it so she can then pay to go on horse camp. SOOOO cute.  

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CD’s – So many little girls I have had stay over have just loved the Butterfly Dreaming meditation CD put out by occupational therapist Denise Allen. Can be contacted on 02 43651666. 

2f79_2.jpgAND let’s not forget many girls are not into pink… or even butterflies at all! My sister would have cringed at some of the gifts I have suggested here. When we were growing up, she was far more excited by Star Wars ( Han Solo, Yoda – just not Princess Leia!), and Lego building sets. Go girl!   

There are so many other great options – stationery (little girls cannot seem to get enough of papers and stickers!), active toys (trampolines, skates, bikes, balls etc), torches, sleeping bags ( yep, Teyah is planning a sleep out – under our pool table!) … love to hear your ideas! 

Also thought I’d add some of my BAH HUMBUG discoveries. Ebay want to convince teen girls that they need ultra expensive designer items in order to be “Cool for school” – $220 Sass and Bide jeans? PLEASE! This is not the OC! Marissa Cooper is dead!

As most students in Australia wear a school uniform I can only assume Ebay was pitching this for the odd mufti / plain clothes day schools do hold. OH that is so cruel. I still clearly recall the HELL the night before such events – lying awake obsessing over what I would wear in order to be seen as “cool” by my peers. AND I was only trying to choose between pretty standard gear – imagine if I had felt the added pressure of thinking it had to be Burberry!  GRRRRR…

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Even worse – and I DO NOT UNDERSTAND this – when googling “Girl Power Gifts” I came across a site aimed at young girls – www. girl.com.au . It claims to be “Empowering Girls Worldwide.” It must be aimed at pre-teens and young teens as its home page promotes films including Disney’s Enchanted, High School Musical, and the “Smart Cycle” -a toy for preschoolers. HOWEVER – it has a special page devoted just to….BRAZILLIAN WAXING! I kid you not! This is the advice offered to young girls…

The Brazilian bikini wax is an acquired taste and is not for everyone. Some women can endure the pain while others it’s just too much to bare. For those of you interested in modeling it’s a must, but I’d recommend a lead up before you take the plunge.

Brazilian waxing involves spreading hot wax your buttocks and vagina area. A cloth is patted over the wax, then pulled off. Don’t be alarmed if the waxer throws your legs over your shoulder, or asks you to moon them, this is normal and ensures there are no stray hairs. A tweezer is used for the more delicate areas (red bits).

So why does it appeal. Nobody really likes hair in their private regions and it has a childlike appeal. Men love it, and are eternally curious about it.”

All I want for Xmas is for companies that exploit and poison girls to stop pretending they are a “girl’s best friend” and back off 🙁

I have emailed girl@girl.com.au to tell them how I feel and to demand they remove this page. Why don’t you speak up too?

P.S. I have decided to make my outrage public – listen to the audio from my interview on 2UE 11/12 below ( also appears in my VidPod) :

Audio: Interview on 2UE 11/12

The sublime and the ridiculous.

Indigo 4 Girls – an alternative voice.

2007-11-19-1444-31.jpgI first heard from Beverley Park and the group of “Power Gals” behind new independent teen girl magazine “Indigo 4 Girls” after Enlighten Education was featured on A Current Affair in May 2006. This group of dedicated mothers, and their passionate, clever daughters were keen to offer girls a magazine that explored issues that really mattered…without all the marketing and manipulated images! They had asked for my advice and they have shared their progress with me.

I am just delighted to report that after much hard work they are now launching Issue 2! Editor Bev sums up what they are hoping to achieve: “Indigo will fill hearts and minds with inspiration and encourage girls to be themselves by identifying the potential they have within. The majority of the articles are written by teen girls, with just a little help from a few amazing grown ups.” I am very pleased that I am able to volunteer to offer my voice to the other authentic voices that fill this joyful, and inspiring magazine; I will write a column for each edition. 

At $5.50 an issue I think this magazine is great value and will be a fabulous addition to all school libraries. I have attached a subscription form here indigo-subscription-form.pdf and a “sneak peek” PDF copy of my first column to give you a taste of the types of article Indigo 4 Girls offers: learning-to-fly-beginings.pdf

P.S I have no commercial involvement with this magazine – just want to help share the love. 🙂 Enjoy and pass it on!

What the?

Jane Higgins, Enlighten Program Director for South Australia, forwarded me this link late last week. It is a recent article about a mobile phone-based game entitled “The Coolest Girl In School.” Apparently teen girls, who are targeted as the market for this vile game, will be “encouraged to take drugs and fall pregnant in an online life-simulator game…players must choose whether to experiment with drugs, alcohol and smoking, skip school, spread rumours, bully and even fall pregnant in their effort to win the game.”

Jane was mortified and so was I! A 30 Year old Adelaide woman, Holly Owen, is behind this and claims there is nothing wrong with it…”It’s not about glorifying bad things, it’s about giving young girls the opportunity to play around with high school.”

Please.

So proud of Enlighten Program Director for Victoria, Sonia Lyne’s, reponse… “That would have to be one of the most infuriating articles I’ve read lately Jane- her comment ‘it’s about giving young girls the opportunity to play around with high school’ just tops it off – maybe Holly Owen needs a little enlightening! What must her own self image be like if she honestly thinks this is ok??? ACTUALLY – she has really #*#!!!! me off – I’ll google her and send an email! I’m talking back on this one!”  

You go girl!

Learning to fail

“I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.”

Oprah Winfrey.

How many of us can honestly say we enjoy the ride even when it ends with a crash? Whilst it is not hard to fail, it can be very difficult to accept failure. Yet accepting mistakes, and developing emotional resilience, is essential if we are to survive life’s inevitable setbacks.

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Research shows that girls in particular strive for absolute perfection and chastise themselves for anything less than being the “Best.” They want the best school marks. Best body. Best clothes. Best friends. As Courtney Martin so eloquently states in her book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, “There is nothing more disgusting to a perfect girl than the taste of failure.” 

The fear of failure can be almost paralysing for some girls. They may choose to opt out entirely, so scared of failing that they will not take risks; think girls who sit out PE lessons, girls who are terrified of answering questions in class. Other girls may look like they are participating and taking risks, but may in fact be silently imploding under the (often self imposed) pressures they feel. 

Why is failure such an issue? Girls are often desperately worried about what others might think of them if they fail.

It is powerful to remind girls that others rarely spend nearly as much time noticing our mistakes as what we do – although I have to admit the media’s recent obsession with celebrities transgressions (be they with diet, drugs or fashion faux pas) does not help us convince girls that no one else will notice their mistakes! Britney and co’s trips in and out of rehab and battles with weight and booze are keeping magazines in business, and make no mistake – it is just the girls that are under the microscope. Very few magazine stories focus on the errors men make. I don’t think I have ever read a magazine story that focuses on what male celebrities eat, or on their fashion boo boos.

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How do we convince girls that the current media obsession with highlighting failure is not something they should allow to feed their own anxieties?

My shiny new friend Ella James, media guru and “Goddess” of The Voice , sent me the following link to a most amusing piece that featured in the Sydney Morning Herald recently: it is a satirical look at the inane, unforgiving world of the woman’s magazine:  Stars Bigger and Bigger as Fat is the New Black. 

The first pudgy cab off the rank is Jennifer Aniston. Normally praised for her hot bod, Aniston is on the brink of obesity after packing on 50, I mean five, kilos. “Unlucky in love Jennifer is comfort eating after her latest split,” Famous reports. “Insiders believe that Jen is seeking comfort in her favourite foods after collapsed romances”, including her most recent fling with Orlando Bloom. Since splitting with Bloom, Miss Piggy has been “eating like crazy”, stuffing herself with “fried sardines” and “steak with shallots and horseradish flan”. Yum. Feel free to send over any leftovers, Jen.”

Hard to take Famous’ “outing” of Jen’s failed relationships too seriously when the reporting is exposed as so terribly shallow and pointless.

Worse case scenario – even if others do notice our mistakes and want to highlight them, will that really make us look silly or just reflect poorly on those who want to shame us?  

Apart from naming and poking fun at the ever so fickle Failure Watchdogs, what else can we do to support girls in learning that it is not only ok to fail, but an essential part of living and learning?

Be honest and lighthearted about mistakes you have made. Share them with girls, show them you survived the crash. I am quite open about mistakes I make with the girls I work with and I have to say, I think they find most of my “Danni bloopers” quite endearing! I also make a point of explaining what I have learnt from my mistakes and can usually find joy in them.

My business partner Fran and I have been known to laugh so hard over some mistakes we have made that we fear for our poor bladders. In fact, telling a group of girls that Fran and I laugh so hard we are scared we might wet ourselves was in itself a major mistake. I thought the girls I was working with that day would find this an amusing anecdote. Note to self – 14 year old girls are repulsed by tales of post baby incontinence.   

Finally, encourage girls to forgive and model forgiveness. If someone has made a mistake and is big enough to offer a genuine apology – accept it. 

Most importantly, discuss and model forgiving yourself.

xxxxxx

Success – It’s all about eliminating the wrinkles and getting the right wardrobe – NOT!

cover-23.jpgI do not buy womens’ magazines. I gave up that self-destructive little habit some time ago. I got sick of the nasty after taste ( “I really am not coping as well as insert celebrity Mum am I”? “Wow, I had no idea I could / should loose 3 kilos by next week!” “Maybe I do need to update my wardrobe”…)

However, on a business trip last week I decided to dive back in for the flight and picked up a copy of “Vive”, a magazine promoted as being aimed at “Women Who Mean Business.” 

What sage advice for business women was included in the 128 pages?

  • 15 different types of wrinkle creams were advertised – yep, I counted – including the $930 La Prairie Pure Gold featuring “finely ground 24-carat gold” WHY gold ??? Just because we can?  
  • Seven of the fourteen business women profiled were either in the cosmetic / beauty industry or in fashion – including a  four page feature story on the stylist for channel 7 Kelly Smythe. She sounds a talented, hard working lady but the story seemed to be implying that the main reason channel 7 is rating well is that the stars now all dress “for success” and that Kelly is there to “keep a check” on how they all look. Surely there is more to success than just the right pants suit?  Another full page profiled an ex-supermodel, Carla Bruni, whose main claim to fame seemed to be that she “once dated Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton.” The magazine claimed there was more to her than just her love life – but if so, why mention it repeatedly? 
  • The fashion spread featured a model that must be no older than 15. She was obviously very young and physically almost pre-pubescent. Flat chested, all long, gangling limbs, shown wearing a 70’s inspired playsuit and enormous retro wedges in one shot – oh how “Career Gal”. And if the Editor knows her readers are older (and by the looks of all that anti-wrinkle advertising they are targeting over 35’s) what is this spread hoping to achieve other than making their readers feel inadequate?     
  • The recipe section ( you won’t see this in boy’s own BRW) featured silly, fiddly Hors d’oeuvres (what career women has time to whip up “Mulloway and caviar tartare”? “Iberico ham and quail egg tarts”??). I particularly resented the guilt loaded implication that crackers and cheese were now a definite no no and that even “risotto balls are considered passe.” Blimey – don’t come here for nibbles then.   

Oh look I could go on and on…and don’t even get me started on the tokenistic story buried up on page 114 on what Feminism means today entitled “The F-word” – mmmm, me suspects this may be a revealing little Freudian slip.

The F word that came to mind for me when reading this magazine was … frivolous.

So if it is not all about the clear skin, clothes, and the oh so modern meals – what does it take to be a successful businesswoman?

I do not profess to know all.Despite my deep love for children and years of experience teaching and designing special programs for adolescents, I will never be part of the “Mummy Mafia” who know it all about child rearing. And despite my business qualifications, years of working on improving business performance, and enlighten’s recent Award as AUSTRALIAN Small Business of the Year for Children ( Ohhh I have been dying to get this achievement out 🙂 more in a minute! )  I do not think we are perfect by any means. We just do the best we can on any given day.

However, I do think many of the ways in which we do business work well – not only as they are founded in best practice principles, but as they utilise our natural capabilities as women. I thought it appropriate to share one of these learnings here.

 HOW DO WE DO BUSINESS?

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We are transforming options for women.

“Women can and must help run the world…women, a natural resource should be mined for energy.”

Marie Wilson, founder of the White House Project

In the majority of cases, women are still the primary caregivers. We appreciate the needs of working mothers; in fact, we are working mothers! Important considerations include working predominately during school hours, allowing time off in school holidays, and having flexible meeting times eg: after 8pm when the children are (hopefully!) in bed. We also choose to support other women in business and use working Mums who have started up their own “at home” enterprises wherever possible  – Steph’s Design for graphics, Jennifer Lugsdin for PR / Media, Judy O’Connell for blogging brilliance, Tanya Mc Grady for Taxation… 

Significantly, within enlighten we have also embraced what is unique and harnessed traditional female qualities; women are skilled in effective communication, empathy, and the ability to build relationships. Women are also passionate about the welfare of all children and feel a particular affinity with the plight of adolescent girls.

see-jane-lead-9780446581592.jpgIn the very interesting book “See Jane Lead”, by Dr Lois P Frankel, it is argued that many innate female qualities make women highly effective in the workplace:
“There is a new generation of employees who reject hierarchical leadership and respond to behaviors and characteristics that women have been traditionally socialized to exhibit. Employees, volunteers and children want to be muscled less and influenced more.”

Yes. YES! I believe much of my success is due to may ability to network and influence AND I also deeply resent being bullied – who doesn’t? In recent times I have had my own run ins with business bullies. Often bullies will claim that their behaviour is harmless, just part of “hard nosed business dealings.” I don’t buy into this approach.

This does not mean we have to succumb to the child like desire to be liked by everyone. Tough decision may need to be made, and although some women find it hard to be assertive, setting boundaries will ultimately earn you respect and may even get you promoted (“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” is another fascinating read by Dr Frankel). However, threats and power games destroy what might potentially be very positive, mutually beneficial relationships. 

Business is all about building meaningful relationships. With clients, with colleagues, with other service providers. Leadership development guru Sally Helgesen has gone so far as to declare women’s skills in building relationships and webs of inclusion as the “female advantage.” My business partner Francesca and I are both passionately in love with our business and when others see this, they fall in love with it too.    

I will be forever grateful to the men and women I admire who have also fallen in love with enlighten and supported us with our work. I thanked many in my previous entry after winning our State Award but want to also mention the wider network I have established that is so valued.

Clinical Professor David Bennett AO,  Head, NSW Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Health, National President, Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare, Dr Michele Beal, Stress Management Specialist, Greg Byrnes, Program Director 2UE radio, Jenny Lewis, CEO, Australian Council for Educational Leaders, and of course last, but by no means least, Precedent Productions, The Commonwealth Bank and all the other major sponsors of the Australian Small Business Awards who have just made enlighten the Australian Small Business Champion, Children’s Services.   

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Mixed Messages

During one of my discussions with Board members from the Australian Women’s Forum they highlighted the hypocrisy inherent in many of the programs that say they are designed to promote healthy body image. Apart from magazines that pretend  to be “a girl’s best friend” whilst feeding their insecurities and advocating consumerism,  other cosmetic companies are now using the “we care about girls / want to promote a positive body image” as a marketing ploy. 

Dove has launched their REAL Beauty campaign and hope to promote a teacher training seminar through schools.  Whilst some of the materials they have put together  may well be useful ( have you seen the You Tube clip that shows the truth about airbrushing? Evolution? well worth a look)

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There are obviously some real conflicts of interest when Dove’s core business is selling beauty creams and cellulite potions! What really infuriates me though are the mixed messages. Dove is owned by Unilever – Unilever are also responsible for Impulse (no REAL beauty messages there – the slogan is “Feel irresistible”) and LYNX. You may have seen the LYNX ad’s – where pretty girls are reduced to uncontrollable sexual gyrations at the mere smell of Lynx on really plain / inappropriate men ( one girl resorts to stripping the much older father of her boyfriend!).  Not good enough. These ad’s are completely inappropriate and only reinforce the sexualisation and objectification of women. 

A Year 8 girl in a workshop I ran recently in Canberra pointed the Lynx ad’s out as causing her real anxiety…as we were running the new “Wake Up Sleeping Beauty” workshop at the time she drew a very clever parallel –
“It is like the old Ugly Duckling / Beauty and the Beast story – girls are meant to see the inner hotness in all guys and just fall at them. Where are the plain girls that can be transformed though? Plus why are girls always acting like strippers on TV nowadays? It is embarrassing to watch.”

If you’re looking for another very clever clip (that is not ultimately designed by Unilever to rake up sales and get their brands into our classrooms) show your girls the short film produced by Kiri Davis entitled A Girl Like Me.  

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It looks at the promotion of skin whitening by the beauty industry and the profound effect this is having on girls from different cultures – who start to see their dark skin as the enemy. It is really moving…

Faking It!

I wanted to share with you, amongst other things, an interesting new resource. You may recall me posting a Sun Herald article by Miranda Divine ( Paradise glossed: magazines driving girl poisoning culture)  that labeled many magazines aimed at teen girls as “Girl Poisoners” – sexualizing them and reinforcing their negative body image.  

Australian Women’s Forum, a group of professional women and academics, have just launched a magazine style alternative entitled “Faking It”; this reflects the body of academic research on  magazines, mass media and the sexual objectification of women.

enlighten was at their Melbourne launch and we are particularly impressed with its combination of academic rigor and appealing visuals; it will certainly appeal to older teenage girls and provide a powerful stimulus for conversation ( please note, I would suggest it would be most appropriate for girls from 16 onwards as much of the content does focus on issues relating to sexuality and some articles are, whilst incredibly important, confronting e.g. “Girls : Too Sexy Too Soon” on the premature sexualisation of girls and the links between this and serious 506792_doll_.jpgmental health problems).

Recent talks I have held with parent groups highlights the fact that this magazine will also feel a real need for parents to have access to information that is presented in a way in which allows an insight into their daughter’s increasingly complex world (flyer: wake-up-sleeping-beauty-program-for-parents.pdf – in case you think this new enlighten initiative may also prove beneficial.)  

I have discussed how parents and schools may access this magazine with AWF Board Member Karen Robinson and she has indicated that individual copies (@ $15 plus postage) may be ordered directly from their web site.  However, multiple copies of 20 or more can be ordered for $10 per copy with postage waved. It may be worth putting a note out to parents to see if there is interest and allowing them to get these through the school.  As an ex-English KLA Coordinator, I think it would also prove highly useful as a resource in the Senior English and / or PDHPE classroom. 

With permission, I have attached a sample article from the latest issue for you Hate Your Body – We Show You How– I am sure you will find it informative and valuable in its own right. I shall be meeting with AWF when I am in Perth next month working with 450 girls from St Brigid’s College WA; I am keen to offer the team a school perspective and would welcome any comments or suggestions you may have as I will forward these to the ladies on your behalf.   

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On another note, some general items of interest:  we have recently been nominated as Small Business of the Year, Children’s Services! Finalists are announced in October so fingers crossed for us. Another exciting October event in our calendar:  I have also been asked to give a presentation on gender and supporting teenage girls with body image issues at the Australian Council of Education Leaders (ACEL) annual conference in October – over 1,200 Principals and teachers will be in attendance and perhaps I may even see some of you there. Please say hello! Finally, we have added a new link to our web site – “enlighten and the community.” We thought it was important to publicly promote our corporate values; we believe that by building respect and inspiring love, business can move the world.

Do check it out and note the NSW launch of our mentoring program for young girls who are entrepreneurial will be happening soon.  It is my aim to personally mentor one girl each year and support her in using her creative energy to add value to the wider community… many of you may know I have a strong background in both founding and managing mentoring programs and in developing curriculum aimed at enhancing enterprise skills so I will relish utilizing all these skills again!

So much happening – loving it all. I hope you are all feeling just as inspired by your work…

Plastic Girls

An interesting article on Ninemsn , Quarter of Girls Want Plastic Surgery , provides some interesting statistics on teen girls and their body image.  

A quarter of teenage girls in Australia say they would get plastic surgery if they could, and two per cent have already gone under the knife. Almost 60 per cent wanted to be lighter on the scales, and 45 per cent said they knew someone with an eating disorder. The survey also gives a picture of drug use, showing that three per cent have tried the party drug ice, five per cent had swallowed an ecstasy pill and 13 per cent have smoked marijuana. Only 13 per cent admitted smoking cigarettes. Meanwhile, about half said they drink alcohol, with one in five confessing to having done something they regret while they were drunk. Global issues, like terrorism and the environment, were a concern for 78 per cent of the sample, while 85 per cent worried about achieving at school. Peer pressures were also a reality for many, with 70 per cent of girls confessing they had been bullied. Bronwyn McCahon, editor of Dolly, said while it was an exciting time to be a teen there’s no doubt the challenges facing young girls today are greater than ever.

754301_hips_dont_lie.jpgThere certainly are challenges, and one cannot help but think magazines like Dolly have actually contributed to the pressure to be perfect (see Miranda Divine’s Paradise Glossed, a recent article in the Herald on magazines as girl poisoners).     

Surely we can demand more than this for our girls…    

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