I have never written a post or article that generated as much angry mail as when I wrote this. I was called a “cackling conservative hen” and “ignorant fool”. I was sworn at and taunted. Spam filled my email inbox. I automatically deleted many comments that were vulgar and included profanity.
It’s weird because I didn’t attack a person; I criticized a toy. I called it ugly and said it was a bad model for our little girls. And it is. Last I checked, free speech was still a right, so I spoke up about my concern about the Monster High dolls, which I found creepy. I mentioned then and I’ll mention now that I thought (and think) it is weird that any mother would actually buy these ugly things for her children.
While many moms I talked about this with wholeheartedly agreed with me, apparently there are also plenty of moms who don’t and will buy these ugly things for their children. A Fox News Report from July of last year reported that while sales of Mattel’s Barbie and Polly Pocket steadily decreased, Monster High doll sales have likely grown to more than $500 million in just three years since the line debuted. Ugly has become super popular. ‘Out’ is ‘in’, and monsters are ‘out’ and about, in a store near you.
Given these facts, and that I still receive emails about this topic from concerned mothers and fathers, I thought it might be time for an update. Here you go-
Mattel says it markets the Monster High brand to promote ‘Tween Esteem’. The Los Angeles Times reports that the promotion is a message of ‘girl empowerment’. Here I have to interject, empowerment over whom? I’m guessing boys, but I don’t quite understand that . In a world where total enrollment figures for college indicate more women than men attending, and the EEOC ensures that there is no pregnancy or other female related discrimination, when most of the public schools are taught and run by females (76% public school teachers are female), when some major, multimillion dollar Fortune 500 companies (like Yahoo, IBM and General Motors to name just a few) are headed by women, and women are in the forefront of politics in our nation…. the idea of ‘girl empowerment’ seems silly. We girls have plenty of ‘power’ if you count career opportunity. We don’t live in a part of the world where an oppressive regime limits girls’ chances to pursue their dreams, thrive and flourish. Then why does Mattel think that six, seven, and eight year old girls need to be “empowered” …by monsters no less, who tell them that girls command respect when the dolls they play with wear chains and fangs and their heads pop off? This doesn’t make sense to me. Anyway….
Retailers of Monster High dolls have joined forces with the We Stop Hate organization, created by Emily Rigal to purportedly, well, “stop hate”. Here I’d like to interject another observation- Stopping hate (“intense or passionate dislike”) is admirable, but not attainable. One person cannot control another’s feelings or emotions. Hateful actions (such as physical assault) can and should be curtailed and legislated against. But ideas such as religious beliefs or moral convictions can mistakenly be labeled ‘hateful’ if they do not go along with the defining group’s definition of what is acceptable, and this is where a generalized “stopping hate” becomes dangerous. In an increasingly secular and faithless society, Christians can be labeled ‘haters’ if they oppose abhorrent lifestyle choices, or divorce, or even their children playing with ghouly looking dolls.
An article from Mattel states, The…call-to-action will elevate and extend the Monster High® and WeStopHate collaboration to inspire tween girls to celebrate and embrace the unique qualities that make them “perfectly imperfect” through specially-created online content, downloadable activities, and an animated webisode featuring a monsterfied Rigal.
“Hate” will be defined for your children by self proclaimed experts and a toy manufacturer, and children visiting a special web site will be socially conditioned, free of charge. That’s what the statement means, minus publicity lingo.
It is parents’ call whether they want this agenda against hate (hate being defined by the creators of the doll and the website of course) presented to their children, or to shield them from it, but Mom and Dad might want to consider the Monster High dolls and agenda it promotes are endorsed by Lady Gaga and MTV.
You can see Lady Gaga and the creator of WeStopHate talking about Monster High dolls and their purpose here.
Newcomers to the Monster High scene since last year include Poulterghoul (exclusive to Target). You can see her and hear an detailed description here.
This year, parents can also purchase ‘13 Wishes‘ :
I checked out my local Target store for the dolls. Two years ago when I wrote the first article, my local Target had one part of one shelf dedicated to the Monster High dolls. The space dedicated to the Monster High Girls has grown a lot since then- an entire aisle now, floor to ceiling, with end of aisle displays!
In July 2013, a new spin-off line was launched as a companion line to Monster High. The new line was called Ever After High. (I’m sure someone will tell me to ignore the double entendre in the name, but it really popped out at me.) Ever After High dolls seem slightly less ominous, but that is like saying that butter is better to eat by the plateful than lard. In reality, our bodies need vegetables. While not as outlandishly “evil” looking, Ever After dolls have plenty of the Monster High characteristics.. Take “Apple White”, for example, one of the ‘cleaner’ characters, and purportedly a second generation of Snow White. Even she has a “Spellbinding morning – the perfect day for starting a charmed new school year….” and consults her magic…
The Ever After website invites little girls to take a quiz to find out if they are a “Royal” or a “Rebel”. Answers from which they can choose include being “hex-ited”, liking a French “mani-curse’ for their nails, or “hocus-focus”ing on their studies. Bad puns at best. At worst, they introduce young children to a dark culture. Religious folks will find these toys highly objectionable. Non-religious folks may still be offended, finding them really dumbed down second generation story dolls whose tales, not unlike the old game of telephone, lose much in the manufacturer’s version of translation and story line.
A valid secular objection to this line of toys, is that it skews true literary classical fairy tales (from Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen for example) to suit a manufacturer’s needs, in order to take advantage of an open and vulnerable market. This is an easy and lazy way for a manufacturer to make a quick buck. The sad thing is, some little girls will never be exposed to the classics first, so they will grow up thinking these stories are the originals or correctly summarize the originals, and that is not only sad but uneducated.
The Monster High and Ever After High brands are being promoted to girls as young as six. By playing with dolls that have stiletto pumps or “hooker platform heels” made of pink chains, they are supposed to be learning tolerance. Introducing young girls to this style of dressing is problematic alone, but coupled with it being seen as ‘cool’, girls can be confused as to what it means to be a girl, a lady, a woman. And why is tolerance so venerated today, seemingly more important than great moral virtues? “Tolerance” (without saying of what) is the god of subjective thought which rejects objective moral truth. For these and other reasons, the Monster High and Ever After High doll lines are problematic.
Young girls would be much better served reading about real life heroes in history, science and religion– statesmen, pioneer women, saints, even fictional characters who live in the past or future in an embodiment of some sort of real moral fiber, courage and bravery, characters who are real role models for the girls to look up to and emulate. Instead, these toys program girls to ‘let out their inner monster’. Scary. Target even lets little girls (ages 7 and up recommended) make their own monsters here.
I am sure that some will read this post and accuse me of making much ado about nothing. Read for yourself. Check out the links. Make an informed decision. Be cognizant of what your child may be offered to play with when she innocently visits a friend (whose mother may have innocently purchased the popular doll) Simply do your research and learn. Then talk with your spouse, with moms in playgroups and your child’s school. Teaming together with like minded parents will help us all navigate this culture and modern society successfully and keep this ugly influence away from them.
I’d like to close this post with one more fact-
In 2011 I reported that the the You Tube views of the Monster High Song was four million. I checked the statistics this morning for the same song and they have increased…. by more than 32 million, bringing the total views upon the time of me writing this to 36,764,256, with 85,302 “thumbs up” likes. I wonder how many of these “likes” are little girls as young as eight on the internet? How many of them will innocently sing the lyrics then begin to embody some of the values? How long before Monster High easy readers show up in libraries and maybe schools? How long before a generation of girls is affected? This is a cultural youth trend that cannot be ignored.
There’s a monster under the bed, and in the closet and maybe your daughter’s friend’s backpack .. And the people behind the monster girls can’t wait to introduce your daughters to a worldview they have created for just for her.
What will be your response?
Read more about Monster High Dolls here:
From Fox News: Monster High Dolls Anger Parents
Mattel’s Manipulative Monster High Marketing Machine: Unkind (Shaping Youth)
Raising Mighty Arrows Blogpost: An Alternative to Monster High Dolls