Evidently, the previous residents of our house include a preteen girl, because from time to time we get ads like this:

justice catazine adJustice Brands would like me (or, presumably, someone more in their target demographic) to “pre-shop” with their “new digital catazine.”

Justice Brands is doing some interesting things with the English language here.

“Pre-shop” was a new one for me. I couldn’t imagine what it would mean. Am I shopping before doing something else – and if so, what? Or am I doing something else before shopping – and if so, what? I did some Googling, and apparently it means researching your purchases before going out to buy them. No word yet on the use of “post-shop” to mean “regret and despair.”

“Catazine” was likewise new to me – but only because I’m out of the loop. This 2006 press release from Tween Brands (which owns Justice) is already talking about catazines, and claiming they’ve been in on the game for seven years now – meaning these things go back to at least 1999.

As you can guess, “catazine” is a portmanteau of “catalog” and “magazine.” This word was desperately needed to describe the huge volume of publications that are simply too magazine-like to describe merely as catalogs. Thankfully, Tween Brands was there for us, linguistically speaking. You’ll be happy to know that “With over 10 million customers … Tween Brands, Inc. is the largest publisher of tween catazines.” Said catazines “will help [them] forge stronger relationships with [their] tween audience.”

I know that if I were a parent, helping my daughter forge stronger relationships with clothing store companies would be high on my list of priorities. But just what kind of relationship are we talking about here?

Tween Brands proudly informs us that their marketing team can “give tweens more social status than ever before,” presumably blowing 90s-tween-status figures out of the water.

Who are these tweens, exactly? Tween Brands (hereafter abbreviated TB, like tuberculosis) defines the category as 7- to 12-year-olds. That’s right, if you’re concerned that your 7-year-old isn’t thinking enough about fashion, appearance, and internalizing the judgment of others into self-judgment, TB has you covered!

Remember, though, TB is all about “keep[ing] tween girls fashionable—and, even better, feeling self-confident.” It’s not about money, you see, it’s about building confidence. Because what better way to build strong, enduring self-confidence than by spending someone else’s money on fashions chosen by someone else, and then repeating the process every three months when something new comes into style?

(The Slate has an eye-opening article about shopping at Limited Too – another TB brand. The title, “Lolita’s Closet,” should give you the flavor of its contents.)

And don’t worry – TB isn’t just helping girls. They have another brand, “Brothers,” exclusively for us Y-chromosome types. According to TB, “Boys want to be outfitted for exploration, with merchandise that fits their style and sense of expression.” Which is weird, because when I was a boy, I was much more concerned with the exploration than the outfitting, and my sense of expression was able to operate with minimal dependence on merchandise.

But then, I didn’t have TB.


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