dollydec2013Girls Mag Review December

Melinda Tankard Reist

In 147 pages of beauty and fashion shopping, advice and advertising , along with tips on catching your “crush” this summer, there are, fortunately, a few articles that will actually help girls.

As you know, I always search for the personal stories which convey the reality of girls’ lives as well as inspiring resilience and hope. Not all girls are as carefree as the slim, sun-kissed, smooth bum-cheeked, glowing girls in the full page Rip Curl ads (as noted in the past, the re-touch free zone and claims to want to represent a diversity of bodies in young girl mag pages, has never incorporated advertising).

I commend Dolly’s editors for the piece ‘Life as a young carer’. Most of us have no idea of the reality of so many young people who care for physically and mentally ill parents or siblings. There are 347,700 young carers in Australia – about two teen carers in every classroom. 56% of young primary carers are not employed or at school. Jazelle, 18, has been primary carer for her mum since she was 10. Her mother broke her back in a motorbike accident as a teen however needed more help when she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease five years ago. She is in and out of hospital and because she requires so much care, Jazelle does distance education. A timeline of an average day for Jazelle shows the extent of her caring role. Carers have the lowest level of wellbeing of any Australian group, with over half reporting some level of depression and need more support. Support can be found through your local Commonwealth Carer Resource Centre on 1800 242 636 or for services in your local area. Dolly has initiated Young Carers Week (November 25 – December 1) – not much time for readers to act given this is the December issue, however hopefully the week will be more developed for next year. Readers are encouraged to reach out to any young carers at school, offer help and to send messages through Dolly to young carers. I really hope they do.

‘Reality Reads’ includes Bree, 15, who invented Happiness Day at her school after hearing a student say they’d like to be happy for one entire day, indigenous activist Jayde, 16, who is fighting to have Indigenous Australians recognised in the constitution – “I just wish for all Australians to be recognised equality and I don’t want 40,000 years of our history to be forgotten” – and Jayla, 14, who lost her memory following a stroke. Once again it is good to see a diversity of girls represented in this section.

It has been encouraging to see Dolly and Girlfriend take the issue of alcohol and drug abuse in young women seriously this past year. ‘Drugs: The Real-Life Effects’ includes the personal stories of three people impacted by drugs – a recovered addict, a sibling impacted by his sister’s drug taking, and a Sydney paramedic who has witnessed young people dying from drug overdoses. Mahalia, 18, smoked her first joint at the age of eight and progressed to ice by 16. Her recovery was achieved through the Ted Noffs Foundation in Canberra and she’s got a fresh start. “The crew at Ted Noffs have been incredible. Every time I have a problem I talk to them. They make me feel proud that I go to work every day and pay my rent, proud I’ve lived to come out of this alive,” she says. We are proud of you too Mahalia.

‘Are your friends ditching you’ is an important article about what to do when you are suddenly cut off from your friendship group. Being excluded and deliberately left out can constitute bullying – it’s described as “relational aggression” according to Lucy Thomas, co-founder of Project Rockit ( “It’s where bullies mess with you by turning people against you, spreading rumours or humiliating you in front of others. Just because this happens behind the scenes doesn’t mean it’s not bulling, or that it doesn’t hurt,” says Thomas. Psychologist Dr Mary Casey says: “If the situation isn’t handled, it could affect the victim’s ability to trust friends in future.” Readers are advised to understand the exclusion is not a reflection of their self worth, not to retaliate in the same way, to cultivate other friendships, and talk to someone trusted who is outside the situation. “If you’re continually being excluded, these so called ‘friends’ aren’t worth your time”, says Dolly.

In its ongoing campaign against bullying, Dolly interviews 16-year-old actress Chloe Grace Moretz who writes about being bullied online and girls are given advice on what to do if they are experiencing bulling: don’t respond, block and delete, screenshot evidence, seek help.

‘Kick your unhealthiest habit’ has sensible and practical advice for girls on how to break bad habits such as constantly checking their phone, smoking, biting nails and searing or saying ‘like’ all the time – like get rid of that already!). They are given help to identify the trigger for the habit, the routine that enables the habit to play out, and the reward to help you get out of the habit. Girls are advised on how to swap the habit with a healthier alternative, and to look at the habit as something that causes pain rather than pleasure. Girls are told it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit so they need to persist.

‘Future You’ offers career advice, and suggestions on how readers could improve applications in the future when they applied for a job and didn’t reach interview stage. Possible mistakes are outlined, along with how employers interpret these and how to fix them. Some summer courses are offered for girls interested in media, science or fashion. Good practical advice for the job-seeking young woman. I tried to ignore the interview with Alison Butijer who is national womens wear visual merchandising manager at General Pants Co. But I didn’t succeed. I wonder if she was in that role during the campaign against General Pants for its shop front window posters of a woman being stripped from behind and when the company required staff to wear ‘I love Sex’ badges? I wrote about it at the time in a guest post for Mumbrella. General Pants has a reputation for this kind of sexist behaviour. Get onto it would you Alison? Thanks!