Tweens. What a strange word. It’s like the word “postmodern,” communicating not a stage with its own identity; rather, its identity comes from what it is not. The one thing people seem to agree on with the idea of postmodernity is what it is not–it is not modern. Likewise, the poor “tween” is caught between things she is not–she is no longer quite the young child she was, nor is she yet the “teen” she will become. People cite the age range of tween to be 8-10, or some say 8 to 14 or 15. Whatever she is, a tween is characterized by transition.I’m living with three tweens, all in transition.And let me tell you, it’s hard to find things that are truly appropriate for them. Even though companies are supposedly designing and marketing products specifically for tweens, I find that whether it’s clothes, games, books, TV shows or magazines, everything seems a little too young or a lot too old for my girls.Then I heard about Kiki.I guess it was a few months ago that my friend Julia over at Hooked on Houses told me about Kiki magazine. Julia said that a friend of hers had trouble finding appropriate, interesting magazines for her tween-aged daughters, so she simply started one herself:
Because the girls were starting to tire of publications written for an early elementary school audience, I started to investigate magazines for older readers. What I found bothered me greatly. Many so-called teen magazines dilute mature content and present it in a lively way. S*xu*lized images of girls and women abound, and soft s[*]x articles are more common than not, even in magazines published for girls as young as 8. The more I researched, the more annoyed I became. Since I couldn’t buy what we wanted, I decided to make it. [editorial note: I changed the letters for search engine protection]
This page on the Kiki website, from which I pulled the above quotation, explains more about how and why Jamie launched Kiki. It’s already drawing the attention of various organizations–in fact, Kiki recently received an iParenting media award.The Kiki website gives a feel for what the magazine is like, but I had the privilege of leafing through two review copies. And for an even better insider’s look, I handed them to three tween-aged daughters, to get their reactions.This magazine, in my motherly opinion, is a fantastic alternative for girls interested in fashion. It’s a great resource with practical suggestions, like how to modify a pair of shorts with decorative hand-stitching or personalize a sweater by weaving ribbon down the sleeve. Teaching sewing techniques and principles of design, the magazine provides instructions and inspiration for a young girl to create a “look” all her own. For someone who might dream of working in a design studio, Kiki makes it seem within reach by showing girls step-by-step how to sketch and design everything from shoes to hats.Fashion-curious girls will appreciate the insider’s look into the industry. They profile people who are in school or training as well as big names who are famous. This gives an inside peek into the world of fashion, leaving out the sleezy aspects and focusing more on how things are put together and what lines and fabrics inspire a designer.Although a page might occasionally include a photo of a runway model to illustrate a particular style of clothing, the Kiki girls scattered throughout the magazine that are modeling clothes, hats, and hairstyles look like normal girls. They’re all pretty, certainly, but not like mini-supermodels. They’re wearing normal hairstyles and no makeup. They look real, and I think that’s important for girls in this age-range to see–girls who could be a friend from school coming over for a party. The Pajama Party on one of the pages of the Winter issue highlighted normal pajamas–flannel bottoms and T-shirt style tops. Cute. Normal. Real.Another thing I liked was all of the learning. In winter, Kiki went to London, and the spring issue took readers to Japan. Each included facts and customs from that country with full-color photographs and interesting sidebars. They incorporate quizzes and art projects to engage the reader. They review products and recommend books for further reading on something that the magazine highlighted–more about shoes, for example, or Japan, or do-it-yourself craft projects.My daughters love to draw and create, so I wasn’t surprised that they were instantly attracted to the crafty elements.I asked one of my daughters to comment:”There’s a lot to learn and a lot of fun things to do. I like the instructions for how to draw anime and design your own shoes. There’s a lot of drawing. You can even design a Kiki cover and send it in for them to look at!”Physically, the glossy magazine is nicely designed with lots of color and sidebars–every page has lots to read about and learn.The tagline for the magazine is this: “For girls with style and substance.” They even describe what a typical reader (a.k.a., “Kiki”) might value:
Kiki’s a girl who loves life, appreciates creativity, recognizes good ideas. Kiki is discerning. She thinks for herself. She has her own look. Kiki’s on her way to be being confident, strong, and smart. She’s a girl with style and substance.
My kids aren’t as style-savvy as some–in part, I suspect, because of their mother who is rather disinterested in style and fashion (ever the utilitarian, I value frugality and function over form). As I told a friend of mine, I’ve often wondered if the reason my blog doesn’t have many readers could be in part due to the fact that I have never once written a post about cute shoes. Of course, it could be due to the fact that more recently I posted about wads of hair clogging shower drains. But I digress.If you have a tween-aged daughter who is fascinated by fashion and loves to learn, this could be the very thing you’ve been searching for. Instead of focusing on the runway models who merely serve as animated mannequins, Kiki gives readers a chance to see where the real creativity in fashion lies–in the designer’s skills and imagination. That, to me, seems to be engaging and empowering for a tween girl who is given to staring at window displays and wondering about style. They say that for the summer issue, Kiki goes to France! Vive la Kiki!