Hip Chicas was created by a group of parents of tween girls, who got a bit frustrated by the "silly Barbie image" presented to girls on most of the available sites. They wanted their Latino daughters to have a place to celebrate their cultural heritage, meet friends from all over the world, gain environmental awareness, and of course, have fun.
Most of the sites and toys for early teenage girls concentrate on "fun activities" connected with being pretty: dressing up, putting on makeup and such. They create the image of a teenage girl as blonde mall dweller, obsessed with fashion and parties. The creators of Hip Chicas felt that this is not appropriate, and that girls from their South American neighborhood deserve something that would focus more on their cultural and ethnic diversity.
The site is about a bunch of girls, from various backgrounds, who have their own band and travel the world promoting their music. They also try to "improve the Planet" wherever they go. As the music parts an important role, it's everywhere. Fortunately, the site has it's own player, so the songs can be turned off. Games are similar to what we can find on other sites: dressing up, creating jewelry etc, but as Hip Chicas is on a "cultural mission", most objects are somehow connected with cultures and designs from South America (Incan clothes, Mayan necklaces).
There are also ecology themed games and activities - planning trees, protecting endangered species, and fixing the reef. Winning the games gets the user new points, which can be later exchanged among players, which introduces an economic twist to the site. Another thing that adds to the international flavor if the site, is the multitude of used languages. The songs are in English and Spanish, and the user chat can be translated into English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, allowing teenagers from different countries chat freely, without having to rely on English only. Of course, users can create their friends lists, chat, download music (which was created and recorder specially for this site). The environment of the site is supposed to be very safe, and accessible to parents, who can check on their kids accounts.
The site is colorful, wild, and moving, much like all kids' sites are, but in this case, we have nice cultural themes, instead of shimmering stars, and pink hearts. The design of the site might be annoying, or kitsch for an adult person with sophisticated tastes, but I think that teenage girls would like it just fine. The site loads very fast and is easy to explore, with big, clear buttons, flags to change the language version and games with obvious instructions.
Hip Chicas may not introduce any revolutionary technologies, but it's fun for kids, and manages to introduce quite a lot of good values - care for environment, respect for cultural diversity and the inspiration for active and creative lifestyle. It also opens networking possibilities for kids from various countries, who might not even speak the same language.