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I'm Just Sayin': Missing the dolls of yore

August 26, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, an article in the business section of the L.A. Times caught my eye. I normally don't read the business section, but it was the accompanying photograph that first got my attention. It showed Mattel's latest line of fashion dolls — the Monster High girls.

These are not the Barbies I played with as a kid, or even the Barbies my daughter plays with today. No, these looked more like miniature hookers. What's with the trend to make dolls look like they just stepped off Hollywood Boulevard?

Taking my daughter through the toy department at the store always meant distracting her when we got to the doll aisle. So I cheered when — as part of the long-running legal battle between Mattel and MGA Entertainment over the ownership of the Bratz line of trashy fashion dolls — those dolls were pulled from the shelves in late 2008. Now, once again I will have to try to keep her attention focused on more appropriate choices.

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These dolls are supposed to be the high-school-age daughters of classic monsters and have names such as "Draculaura" and "Frankie Stein." "Poor Clawdeen Wolf" is said to have an excessive hair problem and spends a lot of her time shaving and plucking.

What happened to fashion dolls who were doctors, teachers or ballet dancers?

I guess Mattel thinks that all girls have difficult teen years because Mattel Brand's general manager, Tim Kilpin, was quoted in the article as stating, "Who doesn't feel like a freak in high school?"

Since I don't know any high school girls who still play with dolls, these are obviously being marketed to tweens, and that's not the kind of message I want my daughter to get.

Mattel also plans to expand the toy line with a website, a young-adult book series and even Halloween costumes. I can't wait to answer the door and see an 8-year-old dressed up as one of these dolls.

The suggested retail price for these sleazy playthings is $16.99, yet the article states that they have been very popular, with some of them even selling out. Maybe I'm getting old and a bit prudish, but I guess some parents don't mind their girls owning a deviant doll.

As one little girl, who was buying a hoodie with the Monster High pink-bowed skull, was quoted as saying, "They seem like they would kill Barbie."

Dear Santa, please bring my little girl a Barbie Dream House.

SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at sharonchary@gmail.com.

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