SHOP Girl, a recent magazine published by Australian Consolidated Press meant for girls aged seven to 12 has raised community concern.
The mag, an extension of Australia's top-selling fashion magazine Shop Til You Drop, SHOP Girl, will be launched as a one-off magazine in September, and its editor has said it aims at helping parents cope with the demands of shopping for "tween-agers".
"As anyone with pre-teen daughters knows, it's not easy to find a balance between how girls today want to dress and how we want them to dress," the Age quoted the magazine's editor, Justine Cullen, as saying.
"SHOP Girl will be a magazine designed for mothers and daughters to pore over together and find a middle ground, making shopping easier for time-poor parents and more fun for everyone," she said.
But the concept has been seen as a cynical marketing ploy aimed at manipulating young girls by Young Media Australia president Jane Roberts.
"We are pretty disappointed about this, to put it mildly," she said.
"SHOP Girl is nothing but a manipulative way of getting to seven-to-12-year-old girls to bombard them with advertising.
"It is hard to see how this magazine will support the mental health and wellbeing of young girls," she stated.
Roberts criticised the narrow scope of the magazine, which offers advice on fashion, accessories, beauty products, gadgets and games.
"We want seven-to-12-year-old girls to hear healthy messages and be exposed to positive role models," she said.
"Being a girl is not just about what you look like, what clothes you are wearing and what possessions you have. Girls can aspire to so much more than that," she added.
According to ACP's research, there are about 1.1 million tween-age girls and 1.48 million mothers of children aged eight to 13 in Australia. In the past month, these families have spent 57 million dollars on children's clothes and 60.2 million dollars on children's shoes.
Australian Retailers Association executive director Richard Evans agreed that children represented an important market for retailers.
"Girls stereotypically have a desire to have more variety in their wardrobes as opposed to boys who are happy to wear the same pair of jeans and a T-shirt," he said.
"In that age group there is a lot of peer group pressure to look a certain way in terms of styling and pressure on parents as well.
"It seems that parents spend a lot more time choosing clothes for their daughters than they do for their sons," he added.