Something Wicked This Way Comes

If you thought Bratz were scary, there’s a new crew of makeup clad monsters creeping in the toy market that will haunt you. Mattel is set to launch a new franchise called Monster High this fall. The company plans to release the first book in the series this September. The toys are already on sale online and the TV series, website, apparel line and feature length movie are all in the works. Each of these products are dedicated to a group of teen monsters going through high school… dressed like hookers.

That’s right. Instead of creating positive and age-appropriate characters for a multi-million dollar new campaign for young girls, these “ghouls” are covered in a frightening amount of makeup, trashy clothes and sky-high platform heels. There’s nothing like a cast of mini-skirts monsters to make a buck and alter the collected perception of sexuality among tweens. Really Mattel?

And you thought toys were becoming more gender neutral. Sorry, but Mattel not only wants young girls to buy lots of dolls, clothes and watch their shows, they want tweens to dress in creepy, sexy Halloween costumes year round! As if the trend toward sexy apparel for teens isn’t bad enough, tweens are now the target with this new cast of saucy socialites.

Check it out — each doll is complete with her own “scary” pet and “fashionable” (read slutty) outfit. Kids can collect Draculaura, Clawdeen Wolf, Frankie Stein and Lagoona Blue. Each teen is the offspring of legendary monsters like vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein and sea monsters. What sucks, is that the idea is cute given all the passion for mythical creatures among youth culture, but the way the girls are dressed is a crime — no, I’m serious, if you dressed like this you’d be mistaken for a prostitute and hauled downtown.

Since I’m the product of the 80’s cartoon and toy marketing, I know this is nothing new, creating toys around entertainment and vice versa, but at least the toys we had growing up back then were empowering to girls and not weirdly sexual. I’m talking about My Little Pony, Rainbow Bright and Care Bears. Each taught lessons about confidence, community, intelligence and being independent — not popularity, shopping and premature sexiness. Where’s the lesson in looking hot?

As a culture, we deem it necessary for young girls to be pretty, hot and always made up. These pressures affect the self-esteem young women, leading to sexting, cyberbullying, hook up culture, sexual harassment and anti-feminist behaviors that are then perpetuated by adults. We need to break children free from the marketed sexism of toys like these. Barbie may have gotten a pass because she was also a doctor, among many diverse roles — and at least Courtney and Stacy dolls had outfits that fit their age — but these little monsters are young and wearing cell phones strapped to their legs like strippers. Too far!

So, how did I find out about these nightmarish toys? A friend of mine sent me an article by Peggy Ornstein in the New York Times. It’s a must read. If you want to read a press release from Matell, visit DreadCentral.

“The Hot Boy”

“The Jaundice Brothers”

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