Melinda Tankard Reist
Readers wanting something of substance from Dolly’s June issue would do best to skip the first half and go straight to the second. Articles on self-harm, hate pages and unhealthy attitudes toward food redeem the insubstantial nature of the pages that go before.
‘Would you “like” a hate page?’ explores the phenomenon of online hate pages. A hate page is explained as any page set up on social media to incite hatred, violence or racism towards a group or individuals. Susan McLean of Cyber Safety Solutions explains there are more hate pages around now. “Many people who participate in hate pages wouldn’t behave this way in the real world. There’s a lack of accountability online, so people think they can get away with it,” McLean says. A pack mentality can also be at work, where the more ‘likes’ a page gets the more others join in. Readers are reminded that under state cyber bullying laws, people posting comments or threats on hate pages can be charged. Psychologist Meredith Fuller explains that ‘liking’ the page is the cyber equivalent of looking on while someone gets bullied. Readers are encouraged to report hate pages. A related piece is ‘How I fight bullying’, with three girls telling their stories of addressing bullying in groups including The Hope Project, Angels Goal and Student Harassment Investigation Team (S.H.I.T).
The feature on self-harm is very welcome. Exploring the distressing phenomenon of ‘cutting’, Dolly tells the story of Emily, 15, who started cutting when she was 12. “I do it in secret and hide it as best I can. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that the only relief I can get is to hurt myself,” she says. An estimated 10 percent of teen girls self-harm. It should not be put in the category of attention-seeking (most girls try to hide the habit) – it is a response to intense emotional pain. Those who engage in the behaviour get a temporary sense of relief, with emotional pain transferred to physical pain. Jasmine, 16, shares her journey of recovery, replacing the act of cutting with positive activities until the urge to cut has passed and talking to trusted people about it. Jasmine has a blog called Perks of Recovery (perksofrecovery.tumblr.com).
‘Why should eating this be so #shameful?’ is an important piece about judging and shaming based on food choices, especially online. A black and white habit of thinking about food can leave people vulnerable to the viscous cycle of an eating disorder, says Rebecca Wickham, Family Support Office with Eating Disorders Victoria. Labelling foods ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can lead us to judging ourselves as good or bad based on the foods we eat. The negative thoughts of shame and guilt can contribute to poor food choices. Readers are told the key is to notice judgemental thoughts but not buy into them.
Real Life stories include Tanisha, 14, whose house burn down – “This experience taught me that people care. We were given so much, even by people we don’t know” – and Amanda, 19, a leader in World Vision’s youth movement, VGen. I’m a fan of the first person story in girls’ mags, as you know (see here http://melindatankardreist.com/2013/06/real-life-stories-that-bring-you-to-tears-girlfriend-june/).
The sealed section opens with ‘What Happens after sex?’ answering questions such as ‘How will I feel?’, ‘What if I regret it?’, ‘Who should I tell?’ and ‘What if I miss a period?’ Given that this is a magazine read mostly by underage girls, it would have been helpful if Dolly had included information about age of consent laws. The magazine does at least include two accounts of girls who felt empty and used so at least there is a suggestion that it is best to wait until you are really read and not assume that the first time will be fantastic.
‘Are you stuck on rewind?’ aims to help girls stop replaying negative memories in their heads. Psychologist Louise Adams says: “Dwelling is a form of problem-solving – we go over something trying to figure out what went wrong. But if you can’t let go of something, to the point where it’s making you feel depressed or anxious, that’s when it becomes a problem”. Seven tips are given, with an emphasis on distraction – channelling the mind onto other things. The suggestions are basically OK but some readers whose heads may be dominated by harmful memories, resulting in depression and anxiety, may need more than walking the dog or checking out You Tube. Seeking professional help isn’t mentioned.
They are the better articles.
The sex-industry term ‘pimp’ gets a bit of a work out in this issue, with ‘Let Dolly Pimp Your Formal’ (amounting to not much more than a promotion for Veet hair removal) and even ‘Pimped snacks’. What is a pimped snack? I have no idea.
‘Future You’ aims to help girls get career-inspired by creating a ‘mood board’ – cutting out pictures and headings (from magazines like Dolly) and pasting them onto cardboard. If you cut out pictures of groups of people it “could mean you like working in a team”, if you include objects like a microphone “You might be the next Beyonce.” Reality check anyone?
‘Friendship lessons we can learn from girl bands’ looks at the relationships between members of popular (or once popular) girl bands – Little Mix, Fifth Harmony, Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, The Saturdays – and what girls can take from these. Lessons include hand- selecting friends, don’t talk behind her back, bail on plans, compare or reveal her crush, and being loyal to ‘the sisterhood’ (i.e not ripping each other to shreds as some have been wont to do, though we are not reminded of that less sisterly reality).
’24 things to make you happy’ is more about cute things you can look at online than anything of lasting substance. For example ‘Catch celebs mid-bite!’ by visiting yumceleb.com “for funny and random snaps of stars who love food”, Google pet memes and Conspiracy Cat (‘The litter tray is empty again, someone stealing my poop’), ‘Stare at the Biebs for five secs. Go!’ and create fangirl memes, for example of Zayn (‘I was dropped as a baby? Yeah, into a pool of sexy’). In the middle of this appears profound quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt – “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – and Aristotle – “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act but a habit”. Like repeatedly googling ‘Catch celebs mid-bite’?
It is disturbing that Dolly describes The Janoskians as their ‘faves’. Is that an endorsement for the boys’ public masturbation stunts? An example of their behaviour is given here : “And in the most disturbing scene of all, one of the boys approaches a woman with a baby and says I love little kids.’ When she goes to walk away, he follows and still with his hands down his pants – says ‘I think it’s sexy, show me the kid.’”
Something of an improvement is ‘The Odd One Out’ – what to do when you don’t fit in. Examples include when your parents are divorced, when your parents are (super) strict, your friends play a sport that you don’t, you’re the only single one, or you’re the only one in a relationship. Also more useful are two pages on practical study tips, for example having your phone on silent and away from where you’re studying. I wonder though about the advice to only check messages “every 15 minutes”. That’s four times every hour, which could still be very distracting.
We’re introduced to the six model search finalists. The two youngest are 14. There’s little body diversity. My opinions on Dolly’s model search previously expressed here. Dear Dolly. Please make this the last model search.