I wasn’t a girl who played with dolls.
In fact, any doll that fell into my clutches met with a tragic end.
When I heard about Monster High as an adult, I was so envious! Imagine being able to play with the daughters of Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Werewolf. How cool is that? These were dolls I would have appreciated back in the day. For once, Mattel–the creator of Barbie, the doll that launched a million body-image issues–had finally done something cool.
Though the Monster High girls were most definitely sexualized, with their teeny skirts, long legs, and heavy make-up, the message behind the line–to be yourself and embrace the “freaky” flaws that make you different–was admirable.
“Be Yourself, Be Unique, Be a Monster!” has been the battle cry of the franchise since its origins in 2010.
Then–in an act of complete hypocrisy and cowardice–Mattel bowed to the parents who complained that the dolls were “too scary,” “too dark,” and, most bewildering of all, “lacked a meaningful message.”
Since when do toys need a message? What on earth is Barbie’s message?
Call me crazy, but I think telling young people to be themselves and embrace what makes them unique is as good as it gets.
So what important message did the deep thinkers of Mattel come up with to replace “Be Yourself, Be Unique, Be a Monster”?
How Do You Boo?
Yep, How Do You Boo? is the new, meaningful message of these dolls.
Even worse is how Mattel has changed the faces of the Monster High crew. Gone is the edgy, punk-ish look of Draculaura’s safety-pin earrings and Frankie Stein’s prominent scars. Cleo, daughter of The Mummy, is no longer wrapped in bandages but instead appears to be covered in some weird transparent cape thing.
But are these changes really a result of parental pressure, or is something else afoot?
A wise blogger pointed out that Mattel lost the rights to make Disney Princess dolls to Hasbro in January. The Disney Princesses were Mattel’s second-best seller after Barbie, and Barbie sales are tanking horribly. The blogger suggested that Mattel is messing with Monster High to regain all the customers who used to buy their Disney Princess dolls.
Problem is, Monster High is for the kids who aren’t into the princess thing. Who like horror. Who love monsters. Kids like I was, who love playing with the “bad” toys the best. How many kids have felt comforted by the inclusive message of Monster High? Who loved hearing it was okay to be different?
Monster High perfectly bridged the gap between Barbie and dolls that are truly scary, like Living Dead Dolls and Undead Teds. Sure, the dolls are daughters (and sons) of monsters, but it was all in good fun and never crossed the line into disturbing or frightening.
If you ask me, these new Barbie-Anime hybrids are a lot more terrifying. Just another doll telling kids it’s not okay to be yourself.
What do you think of the Monster High reboot? Have you heard of Monster High? Would you have loved these dolls as a child?