'I buy my daughters whatever they want for Christmas. I wish I didn't have to.'

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. It’s the time when my family and I spend lazy days on the beach digging holes and searching for shells. We play board games of a balmy evening under the glow of our outdoor fairy lights, re-watch Elf and have our favourite festive songs on repeat.

I have two girls, aged 12 and three, and we love to do the traditional things together like go look at the houses covered in lights, decorate the tree, and plan a special menu with as many of the trimmings as we please. And I absolutely love shopping for their Santa gifts. The smiles on their faces come Christmas morning warm my heart like no cheeky Moro snack-pack find at The Reject Shop ever will.

This year however, something has changed. I have reached boiling point. Especially, when it comes to the giving part.

Just today, as I was sweating to death from the humidity whilst holed up in my bedroom wrapping my 12- year-old's presents, I realised that the familiar gift-buying buzz has slowly been draining away year after year. Why? Because the easy, enjoyable shopping for gifts she'll love, and needs, has been replaced by the anxious, society/friendship-driven craziness of where the f**k do I get that spritz from?!

I've gone from buying Kmart body sprays to trolling the digital and even physical aisles of MECCA (I live 2.5 hours away from an actual store!). I can't consider a Samsung mobile because all of her friends have an iPhone (and yes, I can confirm that they actually do), and sorry, what's that? The only acceptable form of footwear is a pair of Nike 270s or Air Forces? Beauty!

Watch: Things Mums Never Say at Christmas. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

Gone are the days of wishing for the pony that they know they’ll never get or sitting on Santa’s lap and asking for a Baby Alive doll, roller skates, or a rainbow of gel pens. My toddler thankfully still sits within this happy-go-lucky-I’ll-play-with-a-box virtue but for my tween, the whole idea of what a gift should and does represent has completely shifted.

And as much as I want to tell her to pull her head in and forget the name Sol de Janeiro, I don’t. Because I get it. I see it every single day.

The expectations on kids today to conform are outrageous, but the alternative is potential social suicide. To some, this might sound dramatic but believe me, I have literally seen girls end 10-year-long friendships because one isn’t wearing the latest Engine costume at nippers, another doesn’t have an iPhone 12 and the other is wearing classic leather school shoes instead of black Vans. 

It might seem like an easy solution, to teach kids about the importance of value and self-worth outside of material things, but I know what being ostracised feels like and I don't want that for my daughters, even if the only casualty at this point, is my bank balance. 

As I wrap these things that I know my daughter will love because it will mean that she gets to live another day being able to say ‘oh yeah, I have that too’, I find myself needing to point a finger because, let’s face it, this isn’t something that has just happened overnight. It’s been slowly eating away at our young girls for years now; this pressure to only have the things that others deem as cool, or acceptable. 


So, who is to blame for this modern culture of you’re only in if you’re ‘in’? Personally, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this behaviour of royal nature aligns with the rise of social media. Sheesh, the amount of influencers out there spruiking things that I would bet my bottom dollar on they have never even tried themselves is nothing short of a joke. How else would my daughter and her friends know that a Drunk Elephant isn’t just a funny video of a baby elephant trying to walk?

Beauty seems to the current obsession of young girls. One minute they are happy to swarm the aisles of Kmart with their mum, the next they need whatever so-and-so bought from Sephora because they saw it on TikTokl. 

Of course, there is an element of FOMO creating fibbers, but I’ve also seen it, many of these girls actually do have $75 glow drops in their sleepover bags.

When you break it down, young girls typically fall into sub-categories of sorts. There are girls who straight-up, nip to teat, like fashion and beauty. These girls are going to seek out those things, that’s inevitable. Perhaps they have watched their mums dress and do their makeup from a young age, owned their own beauty sets and it’s something they are genuinely even interested in as a career. Those girls will mostly be in the know about trends and who’s collaborated with whom either via Instagram or another form of media because they have specifically sought it out. 

Image: Supplied.

Then we have girls who discover fashion and beauty a bit later down the track whether through a grown interest stemming from school or the likes, or via conversations with friends or at the workplace. They might like a pretty nail but have no idea about contouring outside of girls drawing silly lines on their faces.

And then we have girls who just aren’t interested in it; it’s not their jam. They seek out information on a whole range of other things and place fashion and beauty at the bottom of their interest list. It’s not to say that these girls won’t eventually fall into the above category at some stage but for now, their interests lie strongly elsewhere.

Despite their differences, there is one thing that all these girls will have in common: social media. 


Whether we want to admit it or not, social media has our girls around the throat, choking them out until they connect. And if they aren’t connected, they are left out. Forgotten even. And this possibility, for most, is too much to even consider. And I know, there will be many mums out there who will raise their hands preaching that their girls don’t have any social media so there’s no way that it can be blamed for their ridiculously long Christmas lists but trust me, if they aren’t accessing it themselves under your roof, they are at play dates and sleepovers, during computer class at school, and via YouTube every morning when they eat their cereal. 

Social media has changed the way that advertising reaches not just the masses, but the vulnerable and it’s encouraging, even forcing, our young girls to care. It’s opened the floodgates for girls who never sought any type of validation to now feel like there is something they’re missing. And on top of that, it is causing my purse to curl up and hide every time I tell my daughter to ‘hang on a sec, I’m just buying something online’.


It would be easy to blame my daughter’s friends (or those she thinks are her friends anyway) because they carry the most influence in her life but the finger I’m not yet ready to point, is at myself. Maybe I’m the problem. 

I am constantly buying her the validation that she so desperately craves because I am so scared that I will one day find her in a ball on her floor telling me that she has no friends and can’t stand being here anymore because I have let her down. You may call this awful, entitled behaviour but I know that I’m not the only one that can relate to this thought and as her mum, her biggest protector, I refuse to let it get to that.

So, this Christmas, will I buy her all of these things that she has told me she really hopes to receive over and over again? Yep, I will. Call it self-preservation if you will but I’d much rather sit back down in my humid mess of a bedroom and seethe quietly whilst preserving the opportunity to create more magical family memories of my girls’ younger years at Christmas. I’m not ready to give that up just yet, only a shitload of cash apparently.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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