At Least Barbie's Not 'Slutty' Like Those Other Dolls

Time has a blog post defending Barbie against its "bad body image" critics, but it does so in a curious way, by calling Bratz dolls sluttier.


Seriously, this post partially reads like what a catty high school might say about her female rival, rather than a sober look at whether Barbie needs defending. For example, after asserting that Barbie's sales are down, and will need to undergo an image makeover:

That's because Barbie is being pushed out in favor of younger, sluttier dolls with bigger heads. First it was Bratz with their outrageously puffed up lips, heavy makeup and feather boas. Now it's Monster High dolls, who dress like prostitutes and have the dimensions of lollipops.

An even stronger quote follows:

Barbie has always gotten flak for her too thin, too made-up look; she's basically an effigy for everything feminists hate. But at least Barbie looks like an adult woman, which is more than can be said for the Monster High dolls. They have enormous heads and spaghetti legs attached to a prepubescent body clad in fishnets and dominatrix boots. Barbie might be too wasp-waisted for some people's taste, but she doesn't look like a baby hooker. I'd take an out-of-whack body image over sexualizing kids any day of the week.

So, Barbie's sexualization is okay, because she at least resembles what women might look like IRL? While Bratz and Monster High dolls are sexualized too much? Or somehow in a not pleasing way? I never thought I'd get so up in arms about someone calling an inanimate object a "baby hooker."

When it comes to discussing Barbie's careers, the writer makes a point that I can get behind:

Barbie has worked every second of every day since she was invented in 1959, and she's broken more glass ceilings than Sheryl Sandberg. Sure, she started off as a teen fashion model, but quickly worked her way up to fashion editor, then decided "what the hell" and went back to get her doctorate in astrophysics so that she could be an astronaut by 1965. In the 1970s she performed surgeries and won the 1975 Olympics (where she dominated every event, since no other athletes competed that year). And in the '90s she ran for President, performed with the Rockettes and played for Dallas in the WNBA.


Fair enough. Although, Bratz and Monster High dolls can have careers too, right? They may not be officially marketed as such, but check out that video above. These girls made career outfits for their Monster High collection, and they include cool jobs like pianist and firefighter.

It seems like Barbie and Bratz are here to stay. Rather than choosing which line of doll is more and less slutty looking, we can change the conversation for all of them to what they do instead of what they look like. Barbie is apparently launching an #unapologetic campaign, because Barbara Millicent Roberts is tired of apologizing for how she looks. An interesting idea, but that doesn't mean that the competition can't co-opt that as well.



I think Monster High is brilliantly marketed, and the dolls are interesting in concept and appearance - for adults. As toys for young children, I had a visceral negative reaction to Monster High dolls when I first saw them, but decided to do some research before banning them from my household. Hoped to be proven wrong, but unfortunately, upon watching some videos, I saw was girls who were overly concerned about their appearance, obsessed with boys, "the new guy in school is so hot!" and mean girl shenanigans, sabotaging each other and competing for male attention. Plus, I had problems with the language - I am not comfortable with my kindergartner watching shows where girls say something "sucks" (such as when their makeup doesn't turn out right).

I know all of the arguments about how they encourage girls to be "different," but personally, I'm not buying it. They all look the same to me - skinny and overly made up - not that there's anything wrong with being skinny and wearing a lot of makeup, but I'm not seeing the much touted "diversity." Fortunately, my daughter has not shown any interest in them - yet.