Best piece of news for the New Year, imho, is that those vile Slutz… er… Bratz* dolls have to be pulled from shelves as of February. I would love to be able to tell you that the reason for this welcome measure is that toy sellers finally realised that it was wrong to sell dolls that (a) are marketed to little girls but look like pornstars, or (b) are made by Chinese workers on US51 cents an hour working 77 hours plus a week. But, in fact, it was a jealous Barbie who got them in the end (pictures dolly scrag fight: Barbie would win, she’s gristly). Mattel sued the makers, claiming that the genius who designed them was working for them at the time.
The Bratz legacy, sadly, will live on. In the last few years, little girls have been marketed to in a way that naturalises early sexualisation. Last time I went into Target, for instance, they were selling bras for 7-year-old girls. WTF? Then there’s all those toys and film characters aimed at little girls that just look slutty. Case in point, the young ladies below: Tinkerbell and her besties. Is it just me, or do they all look like they’re gagging for it?
Now, I’m not an expert on this stuff (please don’t ask me to comment on Bill Henson… all right, I will: “euw, creepy”). But I do have a beautiful little daughter and I’m really feeling the weight of responsibility in having to help her negotiate her way through this world. I’d love her to think that what matters is her fierce cleverness, but I feel like one little fish swimming against a tsunami. And I think about my son, too, and what warped ideas he’ll get about girls and women and what they do and don’t want.
The solution might be to go live in a commune somewhere with no television and lots of hemp clothes. But that wouldn’t prepare children for life either. I am telling you, being a parent is hard enough (tonight, Astrid realised she was tall enough to turn her bedroom light back on; when I turned it off and told her to go back to be she said, “No, Mummy, I don’t want to go to bed.” She is both too tall and too articulate for a 2 year old). How am I supposed to make her eat her greens, teach her to read & write, and help her identify and deconstruct cynical marketing strategies at a hundred paces? Easy answer: corporations who see children as their market should just get frigging consciences. Is that too much to ask?
* Why isn’t there a law against mis-spelling words on children’s products? Why, why, why?