The Hooch That Stole Christmas

I came across this article on Jezebel.com and it really struck home with me. As you’re Christmas shopping this year, consider what you’re buying for kids.

It bothers me that so many dolls today look hoochie. Barbie’s face has permanent makeup on it, every car/house/piece of furniture is bubblegum pink and probably smells like estrogen infused cotton candy. And Polly Pocket has had some serious work done.

This is Polly when I played with her, circa 1990.

Polly Pocket – the Original

She’s a cute little plastic doll no bigger than a thimble. SHE ACTUALLY FIT IN YOUR POCKET!

She basically folds in half to sit, or stands in one of three possible pegs in her clamshell case home.

I loved her.

This is the Polly my niece plays with.

Polly Pocket – Disco Hooch Millenial Edition

Do her ginormous eyes freak anyone else out?

The better to SEE you with, my dear!

I just don’t want my 4 year old niece to think that crop tops and booty shorts are the solution to feeling beautiful, or valued, or loved.

I have no beef with grown, adult women who choose to wear those things. It’s their choice. But like the Jezebel article pointed out, why are we selling them to toys marketed for ages 4-7?

Don’t even get me started on the Bratz dolls!

I’m afraid if I stare at them too long, one of them will chant some voodoo hex and I’ll be forced to reapply my lipgloss every 15 minutes.

If you want a real laugh, you should totally check out Celia Rivenbark’s book, Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny With a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits, in which she has a chapter made up entirely of an imaginary conversation between her daughter’s Bratz dolls and her American Girl Doll.

My favorite part is when the Bratz give Kirsten, the pioneer prairie girl, advice on how to make her bonnet more fashionable.

Literary gold.

Last January I went home for my niece’s birthday and she pulled out all her Barbies for us to play with. I picked one of the dolls up and made some snarky comment when my sister informed me, “Oh yah, and that’s TEACHER Barbie.”

I couldn’t help myself.

Teacher Barbie

The left side is the dress my Teacher Barbie wore, again circa early 90’s, and the right is what she’s wearing now. My Teacher Barbie dress could eat that Teacher Barbie dress like it was a double fudge chocolate cake on the first night of her period. And she’d have seconds, baby!

Why is it sooo…tiny?…short?…suction-cupped to her already ridiculous body type standards?

I’ve heard you should dress to impress. Perhaps that’s what Smokey the Bear is doing.

What do I do when I’m not preventing forest fires? I work out. A lot.

I mean, c’mon! Smokey can’t just be a bear anymore? He’s got to be a bear with biceps and pectorals? I am of the opinion that bears, in general, are considered quite authoritative and strong already. I do not need to see the curvature of a bear’s bicep to know I am in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wilderness.

Furthermore, if I dressed like Polly Pocket, the pure weight of my oversize head would no doubt cause me to lose balance and trip over my disco glitter heels. I am now bicep bear’s lunch.

Where do we draw the line? Because I would like to step back for a minute. Are toy merchants going to start advertising Anorexic Abby into the Bratz collection? Maybe Kirsten, that American Girl doll with the bonnet and shawl, can teach Abby what inner beauty looks like…and for that matter, mayonnaise – it’s great on a turkey sub! Get a footlong! Go wild!

When did the beauty of animals become not enough? When did we decide that animals needed to also look like us? Or at least some absurd social standard of us? What’s next? Maybe the bird on all the Dove brand bars of soap can grow breasts! Oooh, or those California cow commercials can start talking about their period all the time! I would like that!

Happy cows wear Kotex.

What do you think? Has the Hooch stolen Christmas?

*****

On a brighter note, Congratulations to Nina Badzin! She’s the lucky winner of Amber’s book, The Ruth Valley Missing, and a cd playlist to go along!

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31 responses

  1. LOL Jess, you are spot on. Thanks for a timely post!

    I remember playing with Barbies (wa-a-ayyy back), and even back then in tamer times my mom despaired of my fashion choices: I seemed to gravitate toward gold lame and feather boas. I wonder how my mom would react now!

    I’m usually out of the “hoochie doll” controversy, since I have 3 boys and no girls. However, just yesterday I was buying a secret Santa gift for one of my nieces (6 yrs old) in our yearly cousin gift exchange (we have a big family on hubby’s side). Her mom said she was into Barbies.

    Well, it sure was a culture shock, after all these years! I was determined not to feed into the sexist garbage, so I looked into the “career” Barbie series. Maybe a woman in a non-traditional power profession would send the right message, I thought. I really wanted to give her Astronaut Barbie (the only one who didn’t look remotely hoochie – high heels and skimpy dresses don’t cut it in Outer Space), but it was too expensive. I finally settled on Doctor Barbie. Even the way she’s dressed is kinda marginal, but not too bad.

    Makes me glad I have boys… πŸ˜‰

    1. It’s ridiculous, right?! Even career Barbies wear a lot of pink and tight fitted clothes, which again is fine, but it’s not ALL there is. There needs to be more representation of real women amongst girl’s toys.

      You know my sister looked to find Legos for her daughter, and all the girl sets of Legos were just consumed by pink. Ummm, when I played with Legos I wanted my brother’s Robin Hood collection – it had horses in it. And the guy legos all had green caps and capes. They rocked! Where are those now?

  2. You would love my mom. When we were little girls, she never bought us the regular Barbie. She bought us her Mexican, Black, American Indian, Brunette friends (often off-brand) who had jobs and wore a lot more clothing. We didn’t have Ken dolls (she don’t need a man!) and no mansions and ferraris for our dolls. Desks, Doctor’s offices, and places where they went to do volunteer work! We even made our dolls books out of post it note pads. πŸ™‚

    We never got play makeup, or hooched out dress up clothes (to be fair, there was less of that then, but it DID exist, and my mom would NOT have it). We got books.

    I have a boy right now and he has a play kitchen (that, surprise, my mom rescued from the side of the road πŸ˜‰ AND a work bench.

    I will admit, I had a polar bear who wore a tie. But he was a professional bear. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone. Promise.

    1. Yah, I had stuffed animals that wore clothes too. But none of them had humanized body shapes. My bear Theodore wore a vest. I didn’t need to see body builder muscles on him to know he was a dude. LOL

      You’re right, I totally do love your mom. My mom did buy us Barbies, but a lot of the clothes they wore were from craft shows she went to. So our Barbies wore prairie dresses, or crocheted wedding gowns (made by my grandma).

      That’s awesome your mom bought so many diverse dolls. I still think one of the coolest things my mom ever got me was a set of Native American dolls. I played with them tons! They wore traditional clothing and I had horses for them to ride. They rocked. Of course, I still named them all things I heard on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman – like Cloud Dancing and Snow Bird. That was still really all I knew at the time. But just to know a multitude of faces!

  3. Sometimes, actually most times, I am really happy that I have boys. This stuff would drive me crazy. Is there any wonder that pre-teens are dressing like dime store hookers to school? Oy.

    Hey, did you ever pick a winner of the CD compilation thing? Still over here with my fingers crossed . . . πŸ˜‰

    1. I haven’t yet, Misty. Keep em crossed! I won’t announce the winners for the cds until AFTER christmas because I can’t post the songs before I gift them to my mom and sis. If you think of any song recommendations, let me know! I LOVED Say Something! That’s totally going on my Cafe’ Mix.

      1. Do you want Xmas songs? I have a few unique ones that I love, if so.

        1. I’ll take for me! But I don’t put them on the cd because then you play it all year long.

          1. Ok, for you then . . .

            Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Xmas – the Eels (or sometimes found under just the lead singer’s name: E)

            Let Me Sleep (It’s Xmas Time) – Pearl Jam

            The River – Robert Downey, Jr.

            God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Sarah McLauchlan & Barenaked Ladies

            Also . . . . didn’t you say you had a powerful woman CD? I forget and am too lazy to go back to look. If so, one of my recent favorites that is REALLY growing on me is Wasting all These Tears by Cassadee Pope. Good stuff. Great voice.

            1. Robert Downey Jr. sings?!!

              And yes, I have phenomenal woman mix cd. I will check out this Cassadee Pope you speak of.

  4. So true! Definitely needed to be said. I just hope that if I have a daughter I can find some good toys that don’t give that message…maybe things will change soon?

    1. I hope so! More people need to speak up for sure.

  5. When I was a kid I played with Little People or Weeble Wobbles. Trust me when I say, none of them had bodies worth writing home about.

    1. Fischer Price Little People?! Ooh we had tons of those! Another great toy you don’t see much today. And you’re right, they didn’t have any defining attributes. LOL

  6. What a hoot!! I couldn’t agree with you more, Jess. Things have gotten mighty strange in Toyland. I’ve put a halt to all Bratz dolls who have tried to come in our house, and I’ve wondered when (and why) Barbie made the leap to the Dark Side. And as for animals who resemble humans?? I’ve wondered the same thing you have – when did they stop being animals and who turned them into bizarro parodies of humans? On a related side note, I’m one of the few people who is strangely glad to see Sensitive Male Issues appear on TV – let the guys squirm at the Viagra commercials, and prance into their doctor’s office, proclaiming they have “Low T.” After all these years of Kotex commercials and women agonizing over cramps, I’m glad to share TV time with this new breed of males! πŸ˜‰

    1. Here,here! Me too!

      And yes, beware the Bratz.

  7. We had a few Barbies growing up, but my favorite was a Barbie knock-off who was Miss America. I wasn’t enamored with the beauty pageant aspect; I just liked that she had a crown and scepter and was obviously in charge of something. LOL.

    It’s a treacherous path to womanhood these days. Girls get these hoochie messages all the way along from their childhood dolls to their limited fashion choices in clothing stores to their teen idols selling skin and sex with their music or acting ability. I do take heart that I know several girls who have navigated the route successfully.

    1. Yah I’m glad they are out there – girls who can navigate through. But it is a treacherous journey like you said. We need more messages of positive womanhood for girls!

  8. I agree with almost all of what you said except for the slamming of pink. What’s wrong with pink? I LIKE pink. Hahahahahahahaha.

    Seriously, I had Barbie dolls in the 60’s, and honestly, I’m not seeing a whole lot of difference. She had these boobs that should have made her topple over. And the 60’s started the mini-skirt era. So, my Barbies would probably fall in the category you’re talking about. Hooch in the 1960’s!

    I’m so glad I had only boys! Life is easier that way.

    1. Sorry Lauralynn. I didn’t mean to slam pink overall, but it’d be nice to see other colors too.

      How sad that there isn’t more change since the 60’s.

  9. Jess, I do love your humor here. I’m grinning from ear to ear. I hope the new teacher Barbie never drops her chalkboard eraser (or these days, her dryboard eraser). She’ll give the kiddies a show when she bends over to pick it up.

    1. Too right! She must not teach elementary grades because no way can she sit down pretzel style for story time!

  10. Jess, did you know that American Girl company was bought out by Mattel? So either way parents choose to go with raising their kid, Mattel makes a profit. Interesting, huh?

    1. That is interesting! Well that’s a smart business move on Mattel’s part but I wish they’d just focus more energy on creating a doll with positive body image and age appropriate.

      Don’t you wonder who’s on their focus groups? My guess would be zero teachers, moms, or professional women. It’s probably a room full of old white men and chimpanzees.

  11. I totally agree. This argument began back when my kids were little. I couldn’t find clothes for me daughter that weren’t pink or lavender. Barbie wasn’t as much of sexpot but way more so than the original Barbie that I had. My daughter would cut Barbie’s hair short and make believe she was going to work as a cook (her dad was a chef) or flying a plane or carrying the mail. She was a princess or glamour queen.

    When both my son and daughter were 2-4 years old, I offered each of them toys made for the opposite gender as well as trucks for my boy and dolls for my girl. They naturally chose toys made for their gender. They were just drawn to them. But my son did play with his sister’s toy grocery cart and my daughter did sometimes play with her brother’s log cabin set.

    My daughter has two daughters of her own and she and I are frequently offering different scenarios for the to play with their Barbies and Monster High dolls rather than just the pet groomer and fashionista models so popular now.

    1. Yep. My sis does the same. She’s a teacher so she understands how a variety of toys at a young age help develop various motor skills and emotional ones. She made sure her daughter had building blocks and baby dolls. And she had a school bus she played with a lot because she loved to watch traffic drive by and count the big trucks.

    2. That is the key, to offer toys of both genders to all children. Often they are already partly socialized to stick to same gender toys (they pick up on this from so many places, not just parents). But at least parents are sending the message that all of these toys are okay.

      My son played mostly with stuffed animals and Cabbage Patch dolls until he was six, ignoring the blocks and trucks. (And I suspect his favorite CP doll is still stashed in a closet somewhere.) He turned out to be a totally heterosexual man with two boys of his own now.

  12. I was a crappy girl-child; being raised primarily by my father and being totally uninterested in Barbies and dolls fostered much of that, I think. I was a much better tom-boy. That said, as I aged, men somehow had this idea that women are nothing more than. . . something to be conquered, possessed, lusted after and they are just general Pains in the Asses about it. During my music career especially, and later on, my computer career, I spent a lot of time and effort dodging the Lotharios of the stage and server rooms.

    I chose careers that fit my personality, but were male-dominated at the time. Not only does a woman have to be as good as the men, she has to be better, and I had the mettle to do that. What turns out great in my professional life has been a total disaster in my personal life.

    The sexualization of children from a younger and younger age is a disturbing trend. Pedo much, Madison Avenue? What is wrong with presenting women as strong, cerebral, musical, computer types minus the baggage that seems to go hand-in-glove with that representation. Nothing. Because, most of the brilliant, smart women I know are either Aspies, or so anti-social as to be border-line socio-paths. There is no place in this society for a tough smart woman, who is better than the men around her.

    P. S. Smokey the Bear with a 6-pack is gonna give me nightmares for weeks.

    1. You’re very right about the workplace. Often a woman has to be the image of perfection in order to be viewed equal to her peers. There’s a double edge sword of her either being a “bitch” for going after what she wants or if she does leave at 5 each day to be home with her kids, people can gripe that she’s given special treatment or not fully invested, blah blah blah.

      I just read an article about millenial women in the workforce and how the equal pay factor is improving for them. I’m happy to hear that there’s some been some advancement over the years.

      And yah, Smokey is frightening. Check under your bed tonight.

  13. Loved this post, Jess! As a mom of two very different girls, I can say that it also really depends on the kid. I have one that wouldn’t (still won’t) touch pink with a ten-foot pole, and the other is ALL about the pink. *roll eyes*

    We have the medieval castle Lego set (can you say dragon?!), as well as Harry Potter and Star Wars sets. Both girls like them all. My frilly girl also loves the Lego Friends, but she likes the horses and other animals the most.

    I’ve steered away from the “hoochie” toys as much as possible (a few Barbies have made it inside). Thank goodness neither girl has any desire to have them. I think my older one is a good influence in that respect.

    What kills me are the hoochie Halloween costumes that make 10-year-old girls look like they are trying to be sexy 18+-year-olds. Seriously, minor girls of any age do not need to be wearing corsets and miniskirts and garters–even in the guise of My Little Pony. Also, parents shouldn’t let them buy them in the first place. If no one bought them, the companies wouldn’t make them.

    OK. Stepping down from my costume soap box now…
    πŸ˜€

    1. Yah Halloween costumes these days… Painful.

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