In my book I stress the importance of talking to children about the gender messages in the media they see, and I practise what I preach.
Every year at this time I look at the toy catalogues that enter our house and I talk to my older son about them. (I haven’t yet started this practice with my younger son, but I will soon.)
I asked my son to look at the toys on the pages marked “Girls” in the most recent Toys R Us catalogue. I’m sharing his 9-year-old perspective because I found it interesting.
About Monster High (designated a “hot toy” by Toys R Us) and Bratz dolls, he said they are “pure creepiness.” He noted their “bulging eyes,” “humungous eyelashes,” “pale skin,” and “hair almost as long as” their bodies. He thought they were wearing too much make-up and said they “look like the living dead,” which, I suppose is the point for the Monster High dolls although I cannot really see much difference between the denizens of Monster High and Bratz. I asked about the way they were standing and he said they “look like cheerleaders.”
He also said that their clothes were “weird” and that he had “never seen someone wear clothes like that.”
He contrasted the Monster High and Bratz dolls to the Journey Girls line (a Toys R Us creation), shown here. He said they were better because they look “more real.”
Unlike most girls, my son has not been subjected to the onslaught of marketing messages from Mattel and Bratz, delivered via television, websites, and toy catalogues.
I wonder if girls had been granted the same separation from the marketing messages that surround these dolls as boys, would they still love them, or would they too find them creepy and weird?
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