Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Pretty Little Dolly can Starve... wait what are we telling kids??

There's extra commentary if you hover over the images.
When I first heard the song "The Pretty Little Dolly" by Mona Abboud, I was filling out my own letter to Santa, complete with my own pretty little dolly request.
Well... she didn't come from Santa, and it took a decade, but she's mine now. ♥

But as I was writing the letter, I had the news on. Even as a child I was keen on keeping up with the times. 

They had on one of those really psycho fear mongering nut jobs. You know the kind. The type of out-of-touch moron that blames video games for every problem we have, thinks that all movies are filmed by Satan, and accuses decent music not currently on the oldies station as being the sole reason why people have dry skin on the backs of their heels. Yeah, that kind of idiot. The same people who's grandparents blame gun violence on Black people. You don't want to tell people in other lands that we have these riot-inducing, coalition backing nimrods in America, and yet those are the same, hateful creatures whose faces we plaster on CNN and to whom we kowtow to the whims of like cowardly weasels. Anyway.

This one idiot was accusing Barbie (an 11 1/2 inch plastic doll) of being a poor role model for children, and promoting anorexia. 

Now let me be clear. Even as a child I knew that Barbie was not role model material. A child's first "role models" should be mom and dad. NOT a sports star, cartoon or plastic doll. Furthermore, if your child is aspiring to be a Barbie doll when he/she grows up, I want you to consider yourself a failure as a parent, and then seek psychiatric help.

I looked at each of my Barbie dolls. Not one of them inspired me to starve myself, and while thin, none of them were anorexic. I want you to keep the "a" word in mind.

The role model bit I laughed at. Okay, so my Barbie dolls came with slutty outfits and back then, you could purchase a mini-bar and glowing hot tub for her, but as I kid, I figured "Okay, Barbie is a grown up, and I am not." As far as relate-able dolls go, I spent more time with Skipper and Stacie than I did Barbie.

When I was almost 13, I noticed a change in Barbie.

Suddenly, Barbie had wide hips.

This made her pants not fit right anymore, but it made her dresses puff out more, which is all I cared about.

... But her waist was smaller.

This meant her t-shirts now wore her instead of the other way around.

So... to make her less anorexic... you SHRUNK her waist? That doesn't make any sense.

Not even a year later, I heard my older Barbie dolls called something I never considered before.

Fat.

Suddenly, the same exact nut cases that before, called Barbie anorexic, had come back to TV with a new attitude. Suddenly, they deemed barbie "too fat" and accused her of "forcing" girls to eat more and die of obesity.

To date, I've only seen a total of three children in all of Chicagoland that qualify as "chubby". All of the other children I have seen up close have been anorexic. So I failed to see how Barbie would make any of them "suddenly" fat.

But Mattel just can't be bothered to think for themselves, can they? Take a look at this:
From 1959 until 1999, Barbie's body was mostly unchanged. Oh sure, her face changed quite a bit, but not much else.

Then in 2000, her hips widened out, but she became more skinny.

Now? She's a twig! And what's worse is that she's coated in more make-up than an 80's Barbie!

Now, I'm not crazy enough to call Barbie a role model, but what are we teaching kids with her?

Until 2000 when Barbie was starting to be "younged up", she had regular jobs. Doctor, nurse, cop, firefighter, astronaut, politician, dentist, chef, pilot, and when she did wear makeup, it matched her costume.

Now? Her jobs only include dancer, reality show star, gymnast, babysitter and dog-walker. And 100% of the time, she wears so much makeup that she appears as a hooker. She also looks high.

And don't get me started on the ethnicity issue.
I have never seen an actual Black boy in person that looks like this. Certainly none of my cousins look like this boy.

So I look at the alternatives to Barbie. I won't mention the Disney Princesses, since all those dolls seem to offer are overt amounts of makeup, glitter and dresses, but I will bring up the top three threats Barbie faces. All of Barbie's competitors are teenagers ~ NOT adults.
Monster High dolls focus on dolls of the unusual. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and other Halloween characters permeate the line, but I can't help but notice all the complaints from parents on Amazon. The dolls are literally so thin that they break as soon as you take them out of the box.

Moxie dolls offer a broader range of ethnicity (holy crap, they actually have one that looks like me) and while the bodies look more like a regular teenage girl, the heads are HUGE.

Bratz only recently toned down the slut factor with the makeup and clothes, but it's still prevalent with the latest line. While not as anorexic as Barbie, they are still too thin.

When did this become okay? When did it become mandatory that all dolls fit this unhealthy mold? I don't think any parent is really comfortable with purchasing a skeleton with encephalitis for their child. And yet that is what there is to choose from.

Rich parents have the option for an American Girl doll. Each doll is built like a child, and is billed as being 9 or 10 years old. They are makeup free and apparently teach kids that it's okay not to be perfect, since each one has buck teeth.

They offer creepy baby dolls, creepy toddler dolls, tiny-20-dollar dolls, and then the famous lines of "My American Girl" and historical dolls.

Now in the ads and on the website, they tell you that you can "create" your own doll. That is a bald-faced lie. You cannot create your own doll. You are only allowed to choose from more than 30 pre-made dolls, and NONE of them are any darker in skin tone than a slightly damp cardboard box. Most of the dolls are White, one is Asian, four are semi-Black and 2-3 are mixed-race or Hispanic, I can't really tell. 

For the record, I tried to find a doll that looked like me as a kid, but the closest I got face-and-hair--wise was this one:
Each doll is $102.

If you want clothes, shoes and anything fun for the doll, the price goes up.

Two dolls and one book will set you back $244.

I'm not kidding. I can't even figure out where the hell this price comes from. The materials to make this doll cost a grand total of $1.09, and China spits them out faster than a politician spits out lies. The clothes cost less than 12 pennies to make, so where the hell is this price coming from??

And then there are the choices themselves. Now currently, Kirsten, Felicity,  Samantha and Samantha's poor little friend are "retired". Yes, Mattel decided to send these haggard, old 10 year olds to live in the country side at a lovely nursing home. But if you go to the actual stores you are bound to find them again, along with the current line of dolls:
Each doll represents a different point in history, and yet curiously, we jump from Molly in 1944 to Julie in the 1970's. While i'm sure there are parents out there who remember at least SOME of the 70's, and likely don't want their kids thinking they're old enough to be "historical" I do wonder when Mattel will release the Civil Rights era doll. She might compliment Addy pretty well.

Growing up, I only had one doll come with a wheelchair. She was Mattel's friend for Barbie, Share a Smile Becky. 
But when I got her out of the box, I found that she wasn't handicapped at all. In fact, she had the exact same body as Gymnast Barbie!! Holy insurance fraud Batman, Becky's doing cartwheels at Barbie's mansion!!

Not only that, but Becky's face was coated in makeup that wore off. Oh sure NOW she looks softer with less eye-shadow, but that stuff never came off of my clothes. And her wheelchair snapped on me after playing with her just three times. Freaking cheap neon Malaysian plastic!!

Was this just Mattel's way of making Becky appear to be as normal as any other Barbie, or were they telling kids that Handicapped Barbie needs more makeup than the other Barbies, in order to be ready to play with? Either way, I'm offended, and I hope that stuff wasn't toxic.

Before they had So In Style (S.I.S.) dolls, Mattel had a line of Black dolls called Shani. I still have the first three. Shani, Asha and Nichelle (pictured) were made for ethnic girls who couldn't find a Barbie that looked like them. (Closest thing I have is Mexican Barbie ~ and I'm not Hispanic!!)

Like the S.I.S. dolls, Shani was a "distant friend" of Barbie, but was never featured in the same ads as Barbie, Midge, Theresa and the gang. Shani and S.I.S. dolls rarely cross paths with Barbie, are kept on high shelves far away from her, and aren't even mentioned in the CGI movies. Not even for Christmas!

And again, I notice that the dolls all have heavy makeup on.

Most of the ethnic dolls are pretty rare, and sometimes only appear in the collector's catalog. Is this Mattel saying we're exotic? Pricey? Unpopular? Rare? It's hard to tell.


I've never seen an obese doll. Even the "pregnant Midge" doll has thin legs and a pregnancy bump that pops off with magnets, revealing a flat, bony, bikini ready stomach. Even her baby is born on the thin side, and upon "birth" spins on her head like a top. (Never you mind how I know that.)

Do you see what's wrong here?

By excluding the un-skinny-boppers, we are in effect telling kids that werewolves, vampires, zombies, skeletons, corpses, mummies, sea monsters and Taylor Swift are all acceptable to have fashion dolls for... but if you weigh more than a bowling ball, you are too grotesque to be pretty. WHAT???

We're also telling kids that to be pretty, you must wear more makeup than clothing, or otherwise be among the "unobtainable". (I say unobtainable, because I can't fathom forking over $100+ for a nekkid doll.)


As an adult, I still don't believe that dolls should ever be called "role models" as that is too much pressure to dump on a little, plastic toy. But I do wonder what we are telling kids?

1 comment:

  1. You should see the recent swimming suits Barbie and her friends come in. It's even worst. The dolls have MORE makeup on in swimming suit "fashions" than in normal outfits. Seriously! NONE of them are dressed well enough for swimming (or to be dumped into a bathtub if a kid wants to play real pool time with swimming suit Barbie)! The tops have the tendency to come off! What kind of role model is that?? Don't get me started on the recent child's clothing lines of mini skirts, low cut shirts, two peice swimming suits, and exposng dresses (too short for kids to wear). It's not even Barbie anymore who dresses like a slut. It's the normal everyday child's outfit from walmart or shopko.

    ReplyDelete