Say your farewellz…

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?

Come on, boys!

Come on, boyz!

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?

4 thoughts on “Say your farewellz…

  1. i wonder what goes on in the minds of the people in the boardroom. you know that they’re parents, too. they probably think that it doesn’t matter. it does. my former students (yr 4s) are now 18-23. i had a few that tarted up in 4th grade (spice girls weren’t helpful, either). of the students who found me on Fb, those who were tarty at 10 grew up to be übertartz by 18. they also have that special attitude that comes from believing that being a brat is cool.

    of course babs would win. she’s an amazon. also her feet are part of her legs. she could kick at a runty bratz’s head (hard to miss that planet) and knock her down. were the bratz to try the same, their feet laden with platform heels would snap off at the ankle. really, they had no chance.

    i don’t get dolls.

  2. Kim, this post is one of a long list of reasons I am so glad to have had a son. The battle is so much harder on girls than boys. Since you’re lucky to get both bridges to cross over you know boys also have a wide range of things to traverse but girls and sexuality *sigh*. I know I’ve expended huge amounts of energy battling advertising/marketing tactics with my son (not to mention all the stereotyping et al regarding boys, girls, life). Now he is a teenager and he will sit there and blatantly carry on with the “Oh I so must have it” with the largest amount of sarcasm (hang on, that was happening before he left primary school). He gets the how they do it (Gruen Transfer reinforced what I had been showing him for years).

    It really rides on the parents and family to keep a tight rein on it. Hard work but so worth it. (I was very noisy to family & gift buying friends to the no obscenely big/over the top weaponary type gifts “Just ’cause he was a boy” mentality).

    Oh and Barb would be the ultimate smackdown winner. I mean look at those long legs – I’m surprised there is no Kill Bill Barbie out there……

  3. We may not agree on movies but we sure agree on Bratz. I hate them tool My sister gave one to my daughter over Christmas and I’m trying hard to ‘lose’ the thing. I feel very strongly against the sexualisation of children. Have you seen the website

    It actually makes me sad to see my daughter’s llittle friends dressed up in miniature adult clothes with their nails painted and looking far older than their tiny three years. Some of them seriously look older in the face than I did at sixteen.

    I know Naomi Wolf is bringing out a book on this topic as she talked about it when she was in Sydney.

    I do admit to liking Barbie as I had many Barbies growing up and still have my collection! I always saw Barbie as a career woman actually.

    And I’m with you on the Bill Henson thing too. I nearly lost friends over that issue but his photographs really creep me out and the fact the guy continues the same theme for so long…

  4. Totally agree with you, Kim. It is possible to protect them up to a point. My daughter never wore a g-string or lacy bra at age seven (check the kiddie range at any Target, known colloquially around town as ‘fashion by perves’), never tarted up with garish makeup or watched M movies until she was twelve.

    Has she missed out? Not likely. She has travelled to Europe, all over Australia, read broadly, seen live opera and rock concerts. She dresses well and is a poised and intelligent young woman, happy in her own skin.

    Too protective?

    Possibly, but until the corporate mogals get into their thick skulls that our children are not sex objects like you I reserve the right to protect my child.

    Fight the good fight. There are thousands of us joining you!

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