About a year ago, while I was driving to work, I heard a radio spot about new dolls for girls. These new dolls were called, “Monster High” dolls and were geared toward girls who might see themselves on a more “alternative” spectrum than their Barbie loving friends. The dolls are dressed in various monster attire – a werewolf, a vampire, a witch.
My kind of dolls.
I couldn’t wait to get home and look up these new, alternative dolls geared toward… Well… Toward young me. A doll that wasn’t really about fashion or dating? A monster doll that could go on adventures traveling through realms or even through time? Sign me up!
The marketing manager at Mattel (manufacturer of the dolls), Cathy Cline, was interviewed for the radio spot:
*The message about the brand is really to celebrate your own freaky flaws, especially as bullying has become such a hot topic.*
These dolls are being marketing in a way that says, “I stand out. It’s OK that I am different.
One doll, the vampire, is VEGAN. A girl after my own heart.
I got home and Googled.
What a disappointment.
Have you seen these “monsters”? Let me describe them to you: They are anorexic looking “girls” in (pardon) stripper attire: Mini-skirts, knee high boots, giant heads, knees that can’t carry their “weight” and buckle as the doll “walks”, giant (pardon) hooker lips, and more eyeshadow than, well, Barbie.
So much for being alternative.
Imagine yourself at your favorite big box store. Imagine yourself in the toy aisles. Now, imagine you need a gift for a friend’s daughter’s birthday. How do you know what to buy? You go to the aisle coded with pink princesses, hair & make-up supplies, baby dolls, cooking equipment. Where are the science toys? The carpentry toys? The sports equipment? Oh, those are in the boys’ section.
And now, you can feed into your insecure, non-pink liking, bullied child’s issues by purchasing her a doll “like her” – buckled knees, big hair, and stripper boots at no extra charge.
Recently, I picked up a book called “Redefining Girly”. My Huz gave it to me for my birthday. The author, Melissa Atkins Wardy, takes the modern concept of “girly” (i.e., pink, sexualized, weak, princess) and calls it out as a marketing tactic helping toy manufacturers segment toys so that each family must have one for each “gender” specific item for the girls and one for the boys, thereby selling twice as many toys. Wardy makes a point to emphasize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing pink/liking princesses/whatever. She wishes there were more of a selection, and I have to agree with her, especially when it comes to dolls like these.
Marketers say it is innate that girls like these “pink” ways, and that they are just selling what girls want. I don’t think so.
I’m frustrated that we segregate toys into “gender specific” categories. I’m angry that these “monsters” at sexualized versions of the creatures we all know. I don’t understand why girls have to decide between Barbie with her heels, a vampire dool in knee highs, or “boy” toys.
What do you think? Am I overreacting?