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Meeting With Mattel about Monster High

In early September I flew to Los Angeles to Mattel’s corporate headquarters to take part in round table discussion called an “influencer meeting”. At the invitation of Jess Weiner, an independent consultant who excels at creating positive media from the inside of corporations by bringing advocates for girls and women into the boardroom, I joined the team from Mattel and Whitney Smith (founder of Girls for a Change) to discuss issues parents and girl advocates had with the Monster High brand and where we saw room for improvement.

I was very excited for this meeting, but as a known adversary of the Monster High brand, I was a little unsure of what I’d be walking into. Never the less, it was a spot at the table I wanted badly. One, to have my voice heard by decision makers within the company, and two, the idea of meeting face to face with the creators of this brand fascinated me. We were coming into the meeting from very different starting points, but I felt confident we would be able to reach some middle ground. One month later, the feedback from the meeting is excellent, and I think the conversation was beneficial for all involved.

I’ve been asked many times to petition or boycott Mattel over this sexualized line of dolls primarily beloved by grade school girls, but I never felt that was the right approach for this issue or this company. Frankly, Monster High was too popular and making Mattel too much money for a petition or boycott to be effective. I needed a way to create change from within, by making the decision makers aware of the issues in the media and culture that our girls are facing, and how their product might be contributing to these negative messages as opposed to helping by presenting an alternative message. Not only did I need to make them aware of the issues, I needed to make them care about the issues. Luckily my partner at the meeting, Whitney Smith, lives and breathes the idea of creating better media for girls, and I am so grateful that our paths crossed.

At this influencer meeting was the vice president of the Monster High brand within Mattel, Mattel’s child psychologist, Mattel’s lead designer and one of the creators of Monster High, and then several public relations and marketing people. Jess Weiner facilitated the discussion while Whitney Smith and I presented the Mattel team with ideas and constructive criticism. The meeting began with friendly introductions and a history of how Monster High came to be at Mattel.

Two interesting facts to me were that the majority of the people in the room are parents of young children, answering the question my community has long wondered if it was parents who were designing these toys for other people’s children. The other fact was that the Mattel team is very proud of their work, their brand, and their company. Each of them has been with Mattel for a number of years, and was very happy to be working there.

As the story was related to us, Monster High began as a series of stories and doodles created by Mattel after a research shopping trip with girls. The story and characters finally came together after several rounds of drafts, with the intent that a group of fabulous teen monsters could address problems like bullying and accepting differences in oneself and others. The initial design concepts went through several revamps, and ultimately Mattel launched the webisodes, and then the toy line and spin off merchandise followed.

The Mattel team in the room was clearly proud of Monster High and the connection it had made with fans. They all expressed confidence that Monster High was helping to create awareness and kindness in girls, acceptance of differences, and was helping to detract from bullying. More on that in a minute.

Post launch, Mattel acknowledged merit to some feedback that a few of the character’s outfits were too short or too sexy, and that the characters in the webisodes were too mean to each other which detracted from the anti-bullying message. Internal changes were made and webisode content is making the effort to align better with the message of the brand. I was informed that the entertainment team has gone back in to “locked” episodes (content that has been edited and aired) and has done further editing to remove unnecessary mean comments. Creators had expressed a difficulty in developing fully fleshed characters in the 90 second and 3 minute story lines, and felt more successful at getting their message across in the longer forms of entertainment and animated specials that allowed for better character development and richer storytelling.

Mattel and Monster High also began partnering with girl-run advocacy groups like the Kind Campaign and We Stop Hate to further the anti-bullying message and to bring more eyes on the work of these campaigns. Manufacturing changes were implemented to guarantee the soft goods (clothing) came off the line more accurately to the design and now must fit the “Modesty Test”, which involves a focus group of employees reviewing new dolls against the approved sample and giving feedback on the clothing and if it is perceived to be too sexy. Another change is that hemlines got longer and leggings are now worn under most of the shorter skirts.

So that’s the good news, and Whitney and I commended Mattel for making those changes, as they are a step in the right direction. But we felt there was need for a conversation on some discrepancy that remained with the brand, the product, and the messaging.

First being, the characters were still pretty vicious to each other in the webisodes, and the feel good 9 second message at the end didn’t cut it if this was really to be a brand about anti-bullying. I presented Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker’s research that in 86 minutes of webisodes programming she observed 37 instances of peer cruelty. Most of the character fighting was still centered around popularity, heterosexual relationships, and fashion or needing makeovers. I also brought up the many YouTube videos that exist of girls (usually upper elementary age) playing with their dolls, and the story line being voiced by the child is almost always one of girl-on-girl aggression. The take-away from the webisodes did not seem to be the final PSA, but rather the drama that frenemies creates. Some of the anti-bullying girl experts that teamed with Monster High have offered solutions that my colleagues and I have felt was lacking and weak. Not that the advice was bad, but it was a fluffy version of really empowering girls and creating, as Rosalind Wiseman calls is, cultures of dignity. When not going with a full-court press on the bullying, body image, or beauty myth issues, this move of pairing with girl entrepreneurs can look like corporate goodwashing. Presenting conflict and story resolution is one thing, teaching real anti-bullying, self-acceptance, and leadership skills to your audience is another. But to Mattel’s credit, the approach they are taking is to advocate for personal solutions for each girl to implement in her life, such as being more accepting of her own flaws and imperfection in others.

I asked Mattel to realize they had an incredible vehicle for social change with this brand, they were keyed into the youth demographic most accepting of bullying and leadership training, and that they simply needed to have the strength of their convictions. They could go further with the stories as the cat fighting and boyfriend meme has been done. Give the characters real life tween/teen problems to work out – as a team. We talked about ways for the characters to experience conflict in their lives without needing to be in conflict with each other. They could continue to be monsterific and interesting, but a kinder and gentler version of Monster High would still be successful.

Next, we discussed the sexiness of the dolls. The designer had a strong reaction to this, and I have to admit, I think she had the most at stake in this meeting because it was her art, her creation that had come to life and was now being criticized. During the introductions she told the room she was a mom to five girls, and was “very dialed into the issues girls faced”. She said she never went into this project with the intention of creating characters that were as sexy or harmful as they appeared to us to be. I need to tell you, we could see the pain on her face at this accusation – and I think that came from a place as a professional artist and a mother to girls. Her words were heartfelt as she described to us the design process the dolls went under. This felt like the moment when we were furthest away from each other, which meant now there was only space to come closer together.
Whitney Smith and I felt what the designer said was true, that she didn’t go into this with any intention to hurt or sexualize girls. Whitney pointed out, that is just how ingrained this beauty myth and sexualization is and that sometimes we can be a part of it without even realizing it. I commented that everything negative from the media was present in these dolls – the sexualized dress and makeup/eyes, extreme thinness, body shaming, Beauty Myth, and focus on being popular over substantive. I asked that as she continued to develop new characters and dolls, to use some diversity in body shape, interests, and focus on the scary over sexy. Whitney and I asked that Mattel shift the focus from what the characters look like, to what they can “do”.

We addressed the heavy make-up and “Come hither” eyes. The designer explained there is a lot of research that goes into a doll’s eyes, and it is the difference between a doll being beloved or creepy. Mattel research showed that girls were attracted to a made-up eye with reflective light spots. Many dolls now have larger eyes because research shows the eyes are the window that helps girls emotionally connect with the toy. I think there is a way to do large, friendly eyes without looking sexy and inviting. I asked if they would ever consider doing a character/doll that was more of a “tomboy”, or who wore less makeup.
When we talked about the thinness of the dolls, we were told that the clothes had to look good, because the brand was also about a fabulous fashion sense. I commented that much like the fashion industry, clothes are best displayed when the body looks like a coat hanger but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is what is best for the human body. We compared body types to some other dolls on the market, and asked if there could be an introduction of some characters with larger or shorter frames, since the brand is supposed to be about accepting flaws and differences. From a production stand point – the dolls need to be able to wear each other’s clothes so it is easier to produce one body type. This is also more beneficial to the consumer, because a one-size-fits-all is a better economic value than having to buy a dozen dolls and a dozen outfits. I think this will be a hard change on the production lines, but it is something that Mattel could accomplish via the webisodes. This is an idea that went over well at the meeting.

Finally we talked about body image and the adult nature of the dolls. I think the newer dolls are dressed much more appropriately dressed than the original creations. The funk is still there, but the Playboy Mansion look is gone. Whitney and I applauded Emily Anne’s character, both in body size and in dress. Emily Anne’s character looked like a normal teen, like someone I would have over to babysit my kids. We discussed that if you are an authentic and uniquely weird brand with an edge, you don’t need sex to sell your product. I used examples of Ruby Gloom or Tim Burton being the former, with Lady Gaga being the latter. I asked for more of a Coraline/Emily the Strange vibe and less adult sexuality. I talked about my own daughter Amelia loving monsters and creepy stuff and I would otherwise be their target mom, but that I couldn’t buy into Monster High because of the sexualization and the body image concerns. I challenged them to make me want to buy a doll.

In closing, Whitney and I explained the idea between being a sexual agent and a sex object, and the immense pressure even young girls are under to be sex objects. Girls need media that does not have them so focused on beauty, sex, and being thin. Whitney and I both felt that Monster High had a lot of room to grow, and had the space to do some really incredible things for their audience and fans.

In my final statement to the team, I looked in the eyes of the people around the room and asked them what legacy did Mattel want to leave on childhood knowing the main audience and consumer for Monster High was young girls. The worst issues girls are facing in their young lives are body insecurity and eating disorders, low self-esteem, sex abuse and assault, early pregnancy, and dating violence. Would someone who was never heard of these dolls be able to see the message Mattel wanted this brand to convey? Would someone who has never seen Monster High before think that the brand was contributing to or detracting from these issues? I again asked them to focus on scary over sexy, and truly making the commitment to be an anti-bullying vehicle.

The meeting ended with handshakes, smiles, and even some hugs. I think both sides felt heard by the other side, and we found that we had a lot of common ground. Whitney and I presented some ideas the Mattel team really liked and wanted to move forward on. Mattel expressed a desire for this to be an ongoing conversation, and I think that sitting down together was the perfect way for the two sides to learn from each other. Systemic change doesn’t take place over night, but I know that Whitney and I walked out of there with our heads held high, confident that we gave Mattel some great ideas to move forward on. Monster High isn’t going away, but I think continued improvement to the brand can create something that is truly empowering to its young fans.

 

How to Explain Monster High and Other Hyper-Sexualized Dolls to Young Kids

Barbie Fashionista. Box says for ages 3+.

My youngest brother is home for the holidays, and while at Target toy shopping for my kids, he decided to go into the Barbie aisle because over Thanksgiving he had watched the 20/20 piece featuring SPARK Summit dynamo Dana Edell and was stunned at what was going on in girlhood. He couldn’t believe some of what he saw during the interview with Dana wasn’t illegal. He has heard me talk about it for several years, but he wanted to see it for himself. He lives in Costa Rica and doesn’t have kids, so a lot of what Pigtail Pals talks about isn’t on his radar.

He was shopping for Legos for Amelia and Benny, but walked into the Barbie aisle to see what the fuss was about. Over Christmas he asked me, “Why are all of the Barbies dressed like whores?”.  Valid question, pejorative aside. The Barbie to our left has a face loaded with make-up, a skin-tight shirt that reads Miss Sassy, a chain link belt, and a hot pink thong clearly visible under the metallic hot pink micro-miniskirt that barely covers her Barbie bum.

For the record, he got his niece a four foot long stuffed dolphin. Good uncle.

Why do almost all of the plastic dolls we see in the toy aisles look like what we would stereotype as a sex worker? I have yet to understand how companies are passing these off as children’s toys. But parents are accepting it, and buying them, and the cycle continues.

But for parents who aren’t buying it, and who are working hard to keep their young daughters from being sexualized, how in the world does one explain Monster High to a five year old? The thing with Monster High et al is that they are so highly inappropriate, it is kind of inappropriate to discuss with a child why they are inappropriate. Since we can’t really use words like “skid row hooker” with our kindergartners and all…

Last night on our Facebook page I was asked the following:
“How do you explain why the Monster High dolls, and the like, aren’t good to a 5 year old? How do you explain what is wrong with them? I told her once that ‘they’re just not very nice.’ I honestly didn’t know what to tell her!” -Danielle

Mattel's Monster High character Clawdeen Wolf, for ages 6+.

This was my reply when the situation arose for Amelia and I:

What I said to my 5yo was that Monster High dolls were dressed in a way that I felt was inappropriate for children, that their faces looked mean not nice, and that their bodies sent our hearts unhealthy messages. We talked about different colors of hair and skin being really cool, but that these dolls made little girls focus too much on being pretty for other people and being too grown-up and that is not what kids need to do.

A few months down the road when she asked for more info, I told her that Monster High dolls have the kind of bodies that can make girls sick, because a real person could never have a body like that, and that I loved my little girl’s healthy body so much I would never want her to have something that would make her think her body wasn’t amazing.

And when she kept pushing about the clothing, I told her that girls who dress like that often don’t have full and happy hearts, and they use clothing like that to get attention and make themselves feel full. Then I took it a step further, and had her come upstairs to her dress up drawer, and picked out clothing I knew was way too small and tight for her. She put it on, and I told her to go play. Amelia said she couldn’t move because of her clothes. I then asked if she thought Monster High was silly, because how could those girls move and be teenagers who do fun things and play sports. She said she thought maybe they just stood around and looked pretty.

I told her she was absolutely right. And then we talked about other toys she had, how different they looked, and what kinds of things those dolls could do instead. I hope to grow the idea of full and happy hearts as Amelia (and Benny) age, to help her make good and healthy decisions about all kinds of things: healthy eating and exercise, drugs and alcohol, sex and relationships, good behavior in school, etc. If that is our baseline, I think the things that fall so far outside of that, whether it is Monster High or music lyrics or friends who are a bad influence, my kids will see it for what it is and be that much more equipped to make good choices for themselves.

I want to teach them to use their intuition and common sense when it comes to hard decisions. It is what I do when I tell myself there is no way in hell that dolls like Monster High or Bratz or hooker Barbies will end up in my home. I respect my children far too much to feed them a diet of garbage like that.

Then another mom added this:

“My 4 year old asked the same thing. I pointed out the clothing and said that girls her age don’t wear clothes that look like that. She seemed ok with that answer at this point, but I am certain we will need to go more in depth with it soon! We had the same convo over the Bratz dolls and some Barbies too.” -Christi

Mattel says Monster High is for tweens and teens. Which would be true, if teens played with dolls and shopped in the toy aisle and stood three feet tall.

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.

Guess what toy makers? Girls love adventure!

Katie Nielsen is a young entrepreneur who loved adventure as a kid. Looking at the toy market today, Nielsen sees sharp gender segregation that encourages action-oriented play for boys and fashion-oriented play for girls. Frustrated by this stereotyping, she’s founded Ember World, a toy company to create a brand new category of empowering toys for girls: adventure dolls.

I’ve gotten to know Katie over the past couple weeks, and I love her understanding of girl culture and the need for messages and products just like Ember World. I cannot wait to buy her entire line for my own adventurous daughter. (I think my son would like them, too!) I really love this quote from Katie, “I want to offer girls a doll that lets them play as their most confident and imaginative selves! So many young girls are enthralled with adventure, and love to imagine themselves as the heroes of their own stories. Now these girls can play with a doll that will encourage that adventurous spirit.”

I invited Katie to share her story with the PPBB Community. Enjoy it, and support her Ember World Indiegogo campaign so that we can continue to make meaningful change for our girls!

 

A guest post by Katie Nielsen, creator of Ember World.

Guess what toy makers? Girls love adventure!

The memories from my own childhood and the imaginations I see in young girls today are chock full of great adventures and unwavering self-confidence. Yet the play style of most girl-centered fashion dolls is all about dress-up and hairdos, while the boys get “action figures” intended for role playing that involves bravery, heroism and power. Why are young girls left out of the action when they are just as likely to see themselves as brave heroes? Why can’t girls have dolls to play out their own adventures with a female lead? The more I thought about this, the more I became convinced that I needed to do something. You know what? Forget fashion dolls – I’m making adventure dolls!

The Ember doll will come with hiking boots and a grappling hook.

The Ember doll will come with hiking boots and a grappling hook.

I designed Ember World adventure dolls to tap into a girl’s natural curiosity and wild imagination. Ember comes with hiking boots and a grappling hook, not your typical hairbrush and pink stilettos. She’s dressed to explore, push limits and make her own way.

We were careful to avoid the dangerously thin proportions of a typical fashion doll and instead we’ve made her strong and healthy looking. Her body is a tool she can use to accomplish her goals, not the center of her life.

Each of the dolls in our series will have a unique skill set they can use to overcome challenges on their adventures.  We have even created a book series to illustrate what confident, motivated girls can accomplish. We hope the girls who play with these dolls and read our stories will be able to see themselves as adventurers and dream big.

The four follow-up characters in Ember World.

The four follow-up characters in Ember World.

Adventure is beautiful. It’s about pushing boundaries and discovering new things. It’s about believing in yourself and finding your hidden courage. It’s about pressing onward. Every child should practice this a million times when they play: I want to see girls fall in love with adventure. I say it’s important to reinforce to girls that they are allowed to be curious, that it’s good to be brave, and that they also belong at the center of great adventures.

To me, this is not just a doll, it’s a whole new category of toys for girls.

 

Ember Adventure doll vs Fashion Doll

Ember Adventure doll vs Fashion Doll

My hair is worthy of a shampoo commercial and that’s just what grows on my legs. Plucking and shaving is definitely a full time job”  – Clawdeen Wolf

It seems really odd to describe a doll shaving her legs on a toy targeted to children under 10, but that’s exactly what’s on the bio of the popular Monster High® doll Clawdeen Wolf.  I can’t fathom why a major toy company thinks that young girls care about leg hair! The fashion doll markets seems to be unwilling or unable to move away from the old stereotypes about beauty. It’s 2015! It is time to provide girls with choices outside of the fashion and beauty category.

Adventure dolls are designed to be a refreshing alternative to fashion dolls – built for action. They will feature action-oriented clothing and accessories, an immersive adventure storyline, and a strong and healthy looking body. Each doll is a relatable character, and comes with a unique skill set that she uses to drive the adventure.

I hope you’ll come explore what Ember World is all about!

To help us to raise the funds needed to manufacture the first production run of Ember dolls and storybooks (and to order a doll for a young girl in your life), you can visit our crowdfunding campaign page at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/meet-ember-the-world-s-first-adventure-doll

 

Ember World creator Katie Nielsen.

Ember World creator Katie Nielsen.

Katie Nielsen is an adventurer, entrepreneur and the founder of Ember World – a toy start-up that is looking to inspire confidence in young girls through adventure play. With a background in business, marketing, and women’s studies Katie is passionate about the empowerment of young girls, and the power of entrepreneurship to help change the culture. She wants to see the toy industry invite girls into the action/adventure space, and she’s making this happen with adventure dolls.

Questions from the Trenches: Tricky Questions While Shopping

Parent Question: My son has been questioning who the super hero girls are for a few weeks now and despite me naming Wonder Woman, Pippi Longstocking (who he doesn’t believe to be a super hero, Cat Woman and examples of real women (who I think possess or/possessed super powers), I had no other female super heroes to use as reference). Yesterday while at the store he ran up to a box of Monster High dolls and said, “Look, Mommy there ARE girl super heroes!” I quickly ushered him away so he didn’t study the picture of the ridiculous dolls too closely and told him that “those were NOT super heroes, they were women…selling crazy shoes”. He said “They didn’t look like women” and I told him the drawing was done by an adult artist who didn’t know how to draw girls.

I’m clearly such an amateur! I honestly wasn’t prepared for that sort of inquiry right then and there (was also dealing with a squirming baby) and I don’t think I handled it in the best way I could have. Have any of you dealt with a similar situation? What would you have said to raise more awareness/clarity on this type of situation?

PPBB Answer: For being put on the spot, I think you handled it just fine. I have dealt with similar situations with my daughter and explaining these kinds of “toys” to kids isn’t always easy. That is what is so tricky about discussing sexualization to our little kids, it isn’t very appropriate to spell out for them why it is so wrong because they don’t have their own understanding of sexuality yet. What I find as the best route to take is to ask the child a lot of critical thinking questions and get them thinking about the wrongness of these dolls without really having to tell your preschooler what sexualization is.

So, what I always try to do is ask the child why they think what they are thinking. I would ask your son why he thinks they are super heroes and what powers they might have. Suggest that super heroes are famous for what they do, not how they look. Does he think these dolls focus on what they do, or how they look? I would comment that super heroes are usually very strong and the bodies on these dolls are out of balance and don’t have any muscle, so they probably aren’t very strong. These dolls are too thin just as many super heroes are too muscular. A real person who was this thin would be very sick and need a doctor to get well I would ask him if he thinks it would be easy to fight bad guys dressed the way the dolls are, in short skirts and teetering heels. Could they fall over and get hurt? Could their underwear show? These are common sense things little kids understand.

Ask him if these dolls are girls, are they dressed like girls he knows? What do the girls he knows wear to play in? Do their faces look friendly or mean? I would mention that I think the way the dolls are dressed is very grown up and that if they were girls they would not be allowed to dress like this at school and they might even get in trouble with their parents.

I think you are on the right track and as your kids continue to take in media message that do not fit your family’s values for a healthy childhood you can continue to question and reframe and get them thinking and critiquing what they are seeing and hearing. Dolls like this are probably going to remain on the market a long time as unfortunately they make these companies a lot of money. So we won’t be able to shelter our kids from exposure to this, but we have every right to raise our kids with the knowledge that companies making money off of selling “sexy” to little kids is really wrong and unhealthy and should probably be illegal.

Bailey Richards Shoemaker took screen shots of the top selling dolls. What common denominators do you see?

Bailey Richards Shoemaker took screen shots of the top selling dolls. What common denominators do you see?

Mattel's Monster High dolls, 2013

Mattel’s Monster High dolls, 2013

** Important to note: I don’t think I’ve ever said anything nice about Monster High, but in 2012 I flew to Mattel headquarters to meet with the designers and executives of the brand to discuss the issues with the line and offer suggestions for improvement. The overall message from me was: Focus more on the scary, much less on the sexy. The group of dolls above reflect some of the changes we discussed, like adding leggings under short skirts and not revealing midriffs to make them a little more appropriate for children. You can see the difference from the original dolls below. Their are still issues with homogenous beauty and body image, but their have been improvements. Ish.

The original Monster High from Mattel.

The original Monster High from Mattel.