Core truism #1:
Contemporary commercial girl culture is not kind or beneficial to girls, and not reflective of true girl culture, because it is not created by girls, nor with the best interest of girls at heart. It is created by market forces* to sell stuff to girls, and to inspire a lifetime of loyal brand consumption.
Core truism #2:
The above is achieved, generally, by suggesting to girls a variety of "inadequacies" which can be remedied through consumables.
Core truism #3:
Many of these consumables are variously in the spirit of bicycles-for-fish. That is, they are not needed by girls whatsoever.
Seemingly smart-arsey, but by no means disinegenuous question:
Why does design for tween girls look the way it does? Why all the pink and purple and wild prints? Why all the exclamation points? Why is prose never longer than a paragraph? Why so the use of collage? Why all the chaos, and for what reason the scrap-booky, piece-y layouts?
• Gather good examples, collate the repeated elements.
• Work out exactly what the motifs and conventions are.
Method question to self:
How to pull apart the visual codes and explain them? Using what framework? Using what examples? What process/es? What does a designer do when creating these products/packaging/layouts/websites? What do they think about and how to they proceed? What are the conventions? What about illustrators, writers and animators who are creating for the demographic? Who are they?
• Make a list of some of the more popular things being consumed by tween girls in all media.
• Role play creating a layout, design, or illustration for various media - what are the prcoesses? What goes through my mind? How are decisions informed? What is the driving motivation in creative decisions? Is the look intended to appeal to girls based on everything else which is out there, or because it genuinely appeals to girls in some general way? Are there other visual languages which could be just as effective, if not moreso?
My goodness, I think I may have just set myself the task which can help me transition from the theoretical which has me straying out of bounds, to the aesthetic and designerly, precisely where I need to be.
Asking simple (or perhaps even moronic) questions of self = good.
* Ill-defined at this juncture, but presumably marketing professionals, market research folks, advertisers, manufacturers of toys, music, clothing, cosmetics, movies.