Fairy Tale High Makes My Brain Hurt

This is how girlhood is marketed to our daughters. What are they learning?

Have you seen the newest doll for girls? Fairy Tale High is the latest to hit the shelves and I think it has all the prerequisites we have come to expect these days:
~ narrow version of beauty that favors skinny White girls with perfect features
~ impossibly spindly legs supporting giant heads with giant amounts of hair
~ heavy makeup and long, luscious hair styled perfectly
~ short skirts, thigh high stockings, fetishized footwear (lucite heels, anyone?)
~ bare midriffs
~ “Come hither” looks from overly large eyes
~ story lines limited to fashion, singing, and dancing
~ webisodes where characters treat each other horribly until the 3 second feel-good spot at the end
~ faux-social marketing meant to masquerade as empowerment

Here’s the website if you want to see more: www.fairytalehigh.com


Fairy Tale High dolls are new and more of the same old, same old. Yawn, Stretch, Roll over.

If this was the only brand like this, it wouldn’t be so offensive. But when this is all that is marketed to our daughters in the mainstream by company after company, it sells our daughters short. If Fairy Tale High was on the shelf next to the Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Sonia Sotomayor dolls I would tell parents that you can choose how to spend your dollars in the marketplace and ultimately it is up to you to make good decisions about the media and messages that come into your home. But when there is such a lack of choice, how much room for healthy and responsible decisions to we really have? Did you take into consideration the billions spent on children’s advertising each year? Is it fair that parents have to constantly be battling inappropriate and sexualized, stereotyped media? I didn’t sign up for this when I had kids.

People will come back and say two things:
1. Just don’t buy it.
2. Companies don’t raise your kids, you do.

This kind of lowest-common denominator garbage dominates the marketplace, leaves girls with a very narrow definition of who they can be and leaves them lacking any real role models, teaches boys not to expect much from girls, and reinforces gender stereotypes about girls for those who view these toys and are inundated with the marketing and merchandising. Can parents provide different role models? Absolutely, but it doesn’t take an exceptionally clever kid to figure out very quickly what our society values from females and what it doesn’t.

I think a lot of parents do raise their children well and have a vested interested in having these children enter adulthood as whole, intelligent, accomplished people. It is a shame so many toy companies don’t share those same values, especially when it comes to our girls.

Sex may sell, but should sex sell to seven year olds? What the market bears is a litmus test for society and right now, our society is pretty sick.

I am going to spend the rest of the day obsessing over a Sonia Sotomayor action figure. Because I need media like Fairy Tale High to die. Compare the FTH webisode when Cinderella’s lucite heel falls off in the hallway and she becomes a limping, exasperated mess to the video below of the Bronte sisters, and ask yourself if maybe the toy industry for girls doesn’t suck just a little bit.

Look at Sotomayor and Ginsburg in the new portrait for the National Portrait Gallery, they smolder confidence, intelligence, and I detect a little bit of badassness off Ginsburg. Which is so much more desirable than looking like a piece of sparkly bubble gum, a la Fairy Tale High.

We are letting toy manufacturers sell the wrong messages to our daughters.

My friend David Trumble gave some famous women in history a princess make over. So that we could all see the ridiculousness of Princess Culture.


  1. Megan Hughes says:

    “…and I detect a little bit of badassness off Ginsburg” is the most awesome thing I have read all day. Thanks.

  2. It is so frustrating. I have no idea how to help my 5-year-old understand why these dolls are inappropriate. She’s dying for a Monster High doll, but I’ve told her that they are toys for older girls. When she hears about these princess dolls, she’s going to flip her lid because she adores everything princess-y. I really, really hate toy manufacturers for putting out crap like this.

  3. Ginsberg is on the bench and she’s had cancer for years and won’t step down because she has such strong beliefs. She is the epitome of badass, and it’s sad that intelligence and hard work aren’t valued because she models them both so we’ll.

  4. What’s even worse is that Monster High (Yes, I know. The hypersexualized, gender stereotyped set of dolls) has come up with a companion series. Ever After High. Almost exactly like this one. http://www.everafterhigh.com/en-us

    • I’m actually very curious what would Melissa say about Ever After High because I see some positive things about them like main character doesn’t want a boyfriend because she will have her adult life with her prince, some characters want to make her own stories etc. Also, the dolls vary, not in shapes maybe, but they have different heights (that’s a start) and I’ve read somewhere that the Monster High clothes may not fit on them because they are slightly wider on the hips. I’ve actually found Cerise Hood almost cute in her jeans, normal shirt and red cape. There’s still make-up and princessy attire involved but I don’t think that these dolls are worse than Monster High. Or maybe I’m wrong and not seeing something? I would love to hear what do you think about all of this.

      PS. I was looking at the book at the store and saw the passage about princesses having a “princess class” of being patient while locked in the tower, but something came up with the princes at their class- they could’t come to rescue them from towers, so the teacher said sth like that: “all right, so you girls need to rescue yourselves, be creative about that”. Princess class was dumb but it has turned around I think.

  5. Ugh, I was just looking at one of my favorite local parents pages, which posts all sorts of great kid friendly events for my area, and came across a giveaway for these dolls, apparently the hot new toy for the holiday season. I thought, “Am I crazy, or were helpless princesses just made worse by now having a back story of being hookers or extras in a Brittney Spears video in their younger years?” It’s just so disappointing that people blindly promote this trash. Just when I am completely DISCOURAGED at the lack of understanding at how incredibly damaging these toys are to our kids, I zip over to your blog, and of course find you are all over it. Thanks:)

  6. Nicolle Guerra says:

    I came across FTH for the first time the other day visiting the Times Square Toys R Us, which was an overwhelming and worrying experience in itself. The dolls left me so flabbergasted I went searching to see if this had set off an alarm on anyone else’s radar, and it is such a comfort to read your post. Thank you, because you reflect word for word what I have been struggling to articulate in my head, mostly because I feel dumb-founded at the speed with which our society has descended into ludicrousness. “Faux-social marketing meant to masquerade as empowerment.” Eloquent, on-point article, bravo!

  7. Actually, two gay guys developed and designed this line of dolls. The dolls arent sexualized, the owners of the company are just actually into fashion. Theyre gay

    • I think that this argument is weird to say the least. If someone is gay and has a good(?) fashion sense, it doesn’t allow him/her to sell everything he or she wishes to kids. They still should give it a second thought. This isn’t about sexual orientation or gender, it’s about what they are selling as toys. If this is their fashion sense, then I think that they should design clothes for adults, not dolls. My gay friends wouldn’t ever bring something inapropriate for kids in my family as a gift just because they are gay;). Also, my mom raised me to have an opinion that “decent” doesn’t mean “prude” it means “adequate for occassion” and this should be considered even by fashion designers.


  1. […] Oct. 29, 2013 Update: Not ‘new’ OR improved, sadly, just more inculcation to the sparkle silo of once upon a time storytelling turned into contemporary “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” style absurdity, with Toy Industry Complicity Selling Vapid Values to sell girls short with “sexy teen princess dolls of Fairy Tale High”…which translates to “targeting the six-year old market with age compression.” Ugh. Read more at Pigtail Pals.  […]

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