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?  


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.  


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…


Even worse – and I DO NOT UNDERSTAND this – when googling “Girl Power Gifts” I came across a site aimed at young girls – www. . 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 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

29 thoughts on “Christmas gifts for girls…the good and the very, very UGLY!

  1. Melinda Tankard Reist says:

    Danni, Thanks for alterting me to the site. It appears they haven’t quite understood the meaning of the word “empower.” I come across lots of outrageous anti-girl stuff in my line of work, but this is among the worst. I hope they get tons of complaints. My complaint below.


    To Whom It May Concern

    I have just been alerted to your website ( and am compelled to immediately register my disappointment in your promotion of brazilian waxing on a site supposedly dedicated to the empowerment of girls.

    It is disturbing enough that you have a page link for brazilian waxing on the same page you flog Disney films and High School Musical 2. But the way you promote the practice is especially hideous.

    Your brazilian waxing page states: “Nobody really likes hair in their private regions and it has a childlike appeal. Men love it, and are eternally curious about it”.

    I am astonished that an organisation that claims to care about girls, would write something like this. You don’t see a problem with linking men, waxing and childlike appeal? You expect girls and women to
    go through a very painful process to imitate the genital regions of small girls and to please “curious” men?

    In addition, you cause girls to despise their natural bodies, which is hardly empowering. Girls have enough body image issues to cope with already. Perhaps you have missed all the research about depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and low self-esteem linked to the sexualisation of girls? Why would you want to increase their angst by making them feel they aren’t normal (“Nobody really likes hair in their private regions”) if they’re not rushing out to be stripped of their pubic hair?

    We would be interested to know what kind of a cut you are taking from the clinics who advertise on your page.

    I have today notified the thousands of women on WFA’s mailing list and my private lists, of your disempowering of girls. I have recommended they not subscribe to ‘Girl’, nor purchase any of your products. I’m sure they’ll let their friends know as well. Your sponsors will be hearing from us as well.


    Melinda Tankard Reist
    Women’s Forum Australia
    December 6, 2007

    P.S You say ‘Girl’ readers are, among other things, “shopaholics”. I’m not sure buying into rampant consumerism is especially empowering or meaningful, but I will limit my comments to your endorsement of brazilian waxing for now.

  2. Storm Greenhill-Brown says:

    This is a brilliant response to such utter rubbish. Image the promotion of any waxing to pre-teens who are only just entering puberty and are struggling with these issues and the transition into womanhood. This is irresponsible and infuriating! I find it very alarming that this organisation openly encourages young girls to seek to please men by harming themselves and making themselves sexually alluring. It makes my stomach churn! It is such dangerous and insidious stuff. Let’s join the wagon and email them to say this is just not on!

  3. Storm Greenhill-Brown says:

    Thinking more about girls and gifts and what makes girls happy I was reminded of when a group of my year 11 drama girls were lamenting the fact that when you got to be “a big girl” you were expected to be serious and smart even at lunchtime. Where are the swings, the hopscotch squares, the designated area for handball or “beamie”? they all chorused. They so rightly pointed out that these activities are not exclusively for primary school girls but for everyone. What better stress buster than a great big, high swing with someone pushing you to boot! I even loved it as an undergrad during exam time to find a local park and swing up into the sky. What a great big perspective that gives you! Maybe it’s a simplistic view and there would still be owership rules of who owns the swings at lunchtime-the 12’s no doubt! but…surely this activity would be far more beneficial than always sitting in groups and dissecting and analysing everyone else. So, when you’re thinking of xmas gifts for “big girls” think outside the square! They really are little girls hiding out in bigger bodies!

  4. Danni Miller says:

    I think that is sage advice Storm. I have noted that the senior girls we work with LOVE the “frog pops” (frog lollipops) we give them and the opportunity to be child like again in our Wake Up Sleeping Beauty workshop. We all enjoy reconnecting with our inner child and taking a break from our increasingly complex lives!
    I will probably always love the smell of fresh Playdough and when I get really tired and overwhelmed, get out my favourite Children’s Book given to me when I was in hospital when I was burnt at two years old – “Goodbye Tonsils.” It is still so comforting seeing the little girl Maryanne and her kind Dr Constantinople…maybe giving a big girl a copy of her fave childhood book would be a great way of reconnecting her to her authentic self?

  5. Jane Higgins says:

    Today I was scanning the Xmas catalogues to find a few little extra pressys. (Being the Brownie I am, I have done 99% of it – tragic I know). Low and behold, I come across the Toys R Us catalogue and find a doll house recommended for 3+ years – It is all pink, bright and glam – makes me want to puke – plus it even comes with its own pole!! What planet are these people on – encouraging pole dancing for 3 year olds!!!! Disgust is pouring out of me.

    If mass consumerism is not enough at what should be a family, warm, connecting time, targeting girls to purchase products that disguise their sexualizing, is abhorrent!!

    Plus ………. this Brazilian thing!! I for one would NEVER have a Brazilian! Most of the time I have hair on my legs and under my arms and every where it should be. My partner is not at all perturbed by this and loves me for being a woman who is not ruled by pop culture.
    Long live the hair!!!!

    PS I love the affirmation cards – great stocking filler!!

  6. francesca Kaoutal says:

    Brazilian waxing!!!AAARGH!! Those gorgeous younger girls of ours don’t need to be hearing all about that and in particular how curious some men are about it. What the?! I am just beside myself over it. people, you present yourselves as empowering girls, what an error in judgement you have made on this one for many of the reasons listed above. Go Melinda!
    Sorry about the rant, just had to get that off my chest!

  7. Dr Johanna Lynch says:

    Just to let you know that I sent a complaint to saying that as a GP I was concerned by their endorsement of brazilian waxes- and frank selling of them to girls and young women. I see this as further evidence of the objectification of women – being defined by how they look. The fact that normal adult women’s pubic hair is now treated with such contempt is not empowering. I believe it is pandering to perverted images of womanhood, and the men who want that. I challenged their site to instead build up girl’s sense of themselves as active, thoughtful, creative, valuable members of society whose definition of themselves is not based on looks, or being ‘wanted’.

    Keep up the good work!

  8. Sonia Lyne says:

    Oooohhhh … this conversation is brilliant !!! AND so timely…
    Just this week I was presenting to a gorgeous group of Year 8 girls and we were discussing issues surrounding our workshop Love The Skin You’re In. One beautiful angel was brave enough to share her concern about her own body image and in particular her pubic hair. She was extremely nervous about the whole topic and stated she was confused as to whether she should shave,wax or just leave it all alone. She openly admitted that she had asked all of her friends and checked out the mags and she just didn’t know what to do. This beautiful group of girls were all very open and many of the girls quickly wanted to let her know they all felt the same anxiety over this issue. A number of the girls then wanted to give advice. One girl stated …

    “Why bother, once you start waxing you just have to keep doing it and hair is really there for a reason… plus we are beautiful just the way we are – just as Sonia says – wait until your older and save the confusion for then.”

    Everyone clapped and you could see in their faces they all felt enormous relief … it was a celebratory moment!!!

    P.S. I love the empowering gifts – FANTASTIC – another one to add to the list; Babushka Dolls – you can now find these crafted in many different themes – even Wonder Woman Danni!!

  9. Lisa Porter says:

    The whole waxing issue has me choking with rage. I have emailed the site as well. How dare they claim to be empowering girls and then promote this kind of rubbish!? Particularly targeted at pre-teens and young teens, it is SO inappropriate. Danni spoke at our welfare team conference about the concept of corporate paedophilia – this just smacks of it!

    On a more positive, calm note, when I was in Year 12 my wonderful Mum contacted the public library in the small town where I grew up – they were “retiring” old books and Mum managed to snaffle the very book I used to borrow whenever it was available – “Ursula the Bear” – about a little girl who wants to be a bear so badly that she finds a magic spell to turn into a bear… only to discover she actually really loves being a little girl and has to find a spell to turn herself back! Coming at a time of great stress, it was the most amazing gift Mum could have given me, and I still treasure that poor, dog-eared little volume! Only now do I realise the deeper message behind it – be grateful for being who you are, and don’t go changing!

    As for Christmas gifts… I’m a craft nut, and I know that these things aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but knitting has had a huge resurgence lately, and even my eight-year-old nephew has had a go at making up a long-stitch kit. I love gifts that you can actually DO something with and there’s so many great options now – scrapbooking (fits in nicely with journalling), mosaic tiles… even good old paint by numbers! Kids can learn a new craft, work on fine motor skills, and have something to hang on the wall when they’re done 🙂

  10. Danni Miller says:

    Thanks Lisa. I love your comments – always so passionate and honest. 🙂 I am going to find a copy of that book and read it too! What a thoughtful gift from your Mum…

  11. Lucinda says:

    What a brilliant and timely post, as I was off shopping yesterday I felt physically sick by the cost and commercialism of Christmas. I have just returned from a month in China with my 5 year old daughter (who was born in China and adopted at 13 months). We visited some very poor and rural regions of China including a school, where we sponsor a little girl. The number of boys accessing education compared to girls was highly noticeable, I realise that if we did not provide support for this little girl she would not be able to receive an education. So if we are truly looking at gifts that empower young women this Christmas lets open our hearts to include others and give the gift of education or other support. I know many organisations including World Vision and Oxfam provide a great opportunity to think and act on a global level to empower and enhance opportunities for girls worldwide. Just think one years education can cost as little as one Bratz doll………………certainly something to think about.

    Love Lucinda

  12. Danni Miller says:

    Welcome home Lucinda and yes – great idea.:) Enlighten sponsored the immunisation of children through World Vision’s Smiles program as a gift at all the schools we worked in during 2006. The students just absolutely loved us doing this in their name!

  13. Casey says:

    as much as i am against the anti bratz movement (coz personally i think they are to blame for the brats we have as kids/tweens these days, but that last bratz is a dancer – stilettos are essential 😛

  14. Danni Miller says:

    She may be a dancer – even so – are the fishnets and skimpy outfits essential? It is all very off to me. Is she auditioning for the Pussycat Dolls perhaps??? Yuck.
    Speaking of Pusscat Dolls and YUCK – my husband saw an ad for “Hits for KIds volume 3” – now Edublogs is going to censor half of what I will write next so I will have to use symbols but you will share my outrage I am sure:

    CD –Features Hi 5, Grease, Guy Sebastian etc on it and – Pussycat Dolls! Don’t Ya!

    Lyrics include:

    Oh, we about to get it just a lil hot and sweaty in this mu’f#*#! (oh, baby)
    Ladies let’s go (uhh)
    Soldiers let’s go (dolls)
    Let me talk to y’all and just you know
    Give you a little situation… listen (fellas)

    [Buster Rhymes]
    Pussycat Dolls
    Ya see this sh#*! get hot
    Everytime I come through when I step up in the spot (are you ready)
    Make the place sizzle like a summertime cookout
    Prowl for the best chick
    Yes I’m on the lookout (let’s dance)
    Slow banging shorty like a belly dancer with it
    Smell good, pretty skin, so gangsta with it (oh, baby)
    No tricks only diamonds under my sleeve
    Gimme the number
    But make sure you call before you leave

    I know you like me (I know you like me)
    I know you do (I know you do)
    That’s why whenever I come around
    She’s all over you (she’s all over you)
    I know you want it (I know you want it)
    It’s easy to see (it’s easy to see)
    And in the back of your mind
    I know you should be on with me (babe)

    Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
    Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?
    Don’t cha?
    Don’t cha?
    Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?
    Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me?
    Don’t cha?
    Don’t cha?

  15. Lisa Porter says:

    Oh please… just hand me a bucket! I never could figure out any of the words apart from the chorus and I certainly don’t like it any more now that I know what they’re on about! The message behind the chorus is just vile – “Check me out, I’m waaaay cooler than the girl next to you… you can’t be hot or fun unless you look, act and dance like me” – and girls and women are supposed to listen to that and dance along like happy little (playboy) bunnies?! I have always launched into an angry rant and changed stations every time I heard that song – I can’t see that abating any time soon.

    I’m choking with rage all over again!!

  16. Danni Miller says:

    Sorry to have you enraged again Lisa 🙁 If it makes you feel any better – I went on 2UE today ranting about all these examples of the exploitation and sexualisation of girls. I am speaking up!

    I was speaking to Melinda Reist from WFA last night and we both feel deeply concerned that this may also be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg – just a few random examples we have all noted – what else is out there?? We have both decided to get LOUD!

  17. Lisa Porter says:

    It’s okay, I am channeling my anger in a positive way – I am not quite calling radio stations (yet!) but I am trying to raise awareness at school and in my community. I agree that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg – a huge poster at my local Westfields really hit me today, an advertisement for the Fox 8 show “Gossip Girl” (sounds great doesn’t it?). Your standard pretty/hunky young things are graffittied with words such as “fake”, “liar” and “cheater”. I caught a couple of minutes of the show whilst channel surfing last week, and it involved a teenaged girl trying to get a teenaged guy into bed at a party. More negative behaviour modeled by “the beautiful people”… and aimed at young people! I changed channels very quickly.

    On a brighter note, Julia Gillard was on the news last night commenting that it’s good for young girls growing up to see that a successful career in politics is possible for women. Today the country is in female hands!

  18. Danni Miller says:

    Reminds me of a delightful conversation I had with a New Zealand educator at a key note given by Marie Wilson. Marie is an American femanist and founder of the White House Project which aims to get women involved in politics.

    My New Zealand colleague commented that in NZ they have had a female Prime Minister for many years now. In fact, so commonplace is female leadership at the highest levels there that her son, then aged 5, asked her: “Mummy do you think it will be possible for a boy to ever get into politics one day too?”

  19. Sonia Lyne says:

    Oh Lisa and Danni this coversation is so refreshing!

    I would like to refer back to the lyrics of the AKA “Pussycat TARTS” The demeaning and disempowering lyrics are sadly dismissed by so many parents and are just seen as harmless fun. I know of many parents who tune into the local pop radio stations singing songs like this with their children, without really listening to the lyrics that they are celebrating. The parents will then proceed to justify this by saying …

    “When we were kids we use to sing songs that had sexual references and we had no idea what we were singing. It really is harmless!!!”

    OH YEAH … so why is it that body image is the biggest worry for young people aged between 11-24 – both males and females – with one-in-three rating it as a major concern. These statistics are based on Wesley Mission’s 2007 National Survey of Young Australians. THIS IS A CONCERN!!!

  20. Sonia Lyne says:

    Danni I have just listened to your radio interview on 2UE … BRILLIANT!!!! Such a valuable conversation for every parent and anyone who cares about girls in todays world!!

    EVERYBODY – listen to this interview and send this to all of your family and friends!!! MUST MUST MUST

  21. Jane Higgins says:

    Danni, wonderful chat on 2UE!! I too am disgusted with media’s portrayal of young girls!! I want girls to learn to recognise when they are being insidiously marketed to and then to do something positive to empower themselves and others. Enough I say!!!
    We must love, support and educate our girls not hurt, harm and be little them!!

  22. Jane Higgins says:

    OK….. I have now checked out this website and feel ill!! What planet are they on that they think this is ok. Below is a copy of the email I sent to them today.

    I am totally disgusted that your website, that advocates it is “girls best friend,” would suggest to girls that a brazilian wax is a good idea.
    To say to girls that no one likes hair down there is totally ridiculous and insulting. To further argue that men are curious about this is completely disgusting and the utmost insult to the male gender.
    Please, please, please reconsider this post and only advocate for the highest good of girls. Support, Love and Nurture them don’t Hurt, Harm and belittle them.
    I speak as a mother, feminist and Program Manager for SA for enlighten education.
    Jane Higgins

  23. Lisa Porter says:

    Outstanding work on radio Danni 🙂 I have forwarded the link to my entire address book, and posted it on my facebook page. Very eloquent!

  24. Dorothy Stahlnecker says:

    I knew I was going to love your site. This is so sick. I find myself almost wanting to give up…worrying we will never be able to help kids remain children. They’re dressing up as young adults before their 12th birthday. In some cases younger. Gratefully there are people like you out here who have not gotten so worn out, they can only sigh….and wonder what can we do?

    We try hard to teach our children, they are beautiful from the inside out. Values stem from family and friends; life begins inside and spending family time is fun not a punishment. So far we are a close family, and when something goes wrong, we fight to make it better. Many battles and small successes. The outside influence are awful. My wish some day is to be able to do more for our precious children. It’s why we started grammology.

    Please stay strong and keep up the great work.

    Dorothy from grammology

  25. Celeste says:

    They SO got an email from me. What a completely inappropriate article to have for “girls” (girls implies teens and younger for me.)

    I let them know how disgusted I am.

  26. Danni Miller says:

    Welcome to our blog Celeste!

    It is easy to feel overwhelmed at times but I think that is what these insidious companies are banking on – that we will all just give up and the commodification and sexualisation of childhood will then become normalised.

    Not on my shift. 😉

    Here is my power Affirmation for the week:

    “I can make a difference – the little things I do have a big impact on the world around me.”

    Dorothy – Never give up or underestimate the impact you are having on your family and the wider world through your blog 🙂

  27. Lisa Porter says:

    I heard on the radio this morning that there has been a shift to “traditional” toys this Christmas – keyboards and dollhouses top the best seller lists. Hooray for the keyboards – let’s just hope the dollhouses being purchased aren’t the variety with a pole installed!

    Merry Christmas to all!

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