Sorry, sweetie... Mommy thinks that doll's too skanky

BlogHer Original Post

I decided before my first child was born---heck, before I was ever pregnant or married---that no child of mine would ever own a Barbie doll. I've taken considerable flak over the years for my decision, and I'm okay with that. What I never could've predicted, though, was that these days Barbies are downright wholesome compared to some of the other options.

Bratz. Baby Bratz (because baby dolls without sparkly chains to hold their pacifiers and coordinating leather bra tops are so yesterday). Diva Starz. This monstrosity, which I'd like to rename the Barbie My Skank High-End Call Girl Styling Head. (Oddly, Mattel is not knocking my door down to obtain my assistance with marketing.)

Most of my relatively conservative mom friends are allowing their daughters to play with the original Barbie dolls, reasoning that they're the least offensive fashion dolls out there. I stand firm on my Barbie ban, and have explained the rationale behind it to my daughter (I do not wish for her to play with dolls that represent an impossible standard of fake beauty, or that wear clothing I consider inappropriate) and, instead, provided my daughter with a variety of age-appropriate substitutes.

So I wasn't entirely surprised when this study was released:

With fashion dolls decked out in knee-high boots, mini-skirts and midriff baring shirts a common sight these days, a new survey finds a majority of mothers believe many toy dolls available for young girls today are too provocative.

The survey, released on Monday, said these mothers would like to see more wholesome, age-appropriate characters and role models for their daughters.

The survey was commissioned by AG Properties, which owns the more conservative Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears and Holly Hobbie properties.

I'm taking it with a grain of salt (wow, the people marketing Holly Hobbie discover that moms want more wholesome dolls? What's next, that the dairy industry announces that kids like milk?), but I agree that the latest wave of too-sexy dolls have caused even most of the "oh, what's the harm?" parents to pause in the doll aisle.

What I have to confess I didn't immediately think about---and I am admitting this with an appropriately red face---was the emphasis in this story on moms' preferences. In fact, it was only mothers who were surveyed.

Greg at Daddy Types takes the researchers to task over this exclusion of dads:

The study went on to conclude, "mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom.


But enough with the mom monopoly on moral outrage. So I contacted the publicists, and asked for a bit of constructive explanation as to why they surveyed only moms, and not dads--or maybe, you know, parents. Here's Tamra Seldin-Knepfer, SVP of Consumer Products for AG Properties' response:

Statistically speaking, mothers make the majority of shopping and toy purchasing decisions for children, which is why we selected them as the sample group for this survey. However, we think that all parents most likely feel the same way about wanting more wholesome, age-appropriate characters and role models for their daughters.

By "all parents," I'm pretty sure she means "all parents who love their children during the Holiday shopping season, which, incidentally, began Sept. 19th, when Mattel's Fisher-Price division unveiled it the amazing 10th anniversary edition of Tickle--" OK, you.

"We think that all parents most likely feel the same way?" Here's an idea: Next time, why don't you actually survey "all parents" and then you won't have to assume. Also, you won't look quite as sexist, which (by the way) might be a useful position to take when investigating a topic that centers around parenting and the oversexualization of our children. Just a suggestion.


[image courtesy of Celia Galliard's "Barbie vs. Bratz" project]

BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir also blogs at Woulda Coulda Shoulda and Want Not.


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