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The Dilemma of a Doll Hater

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When I was a child, I had a passionate hatred for dolls, whereas other girls had their Barbie’s, Bratz, and Groovy Girls go shopping or get dressed for a party; I would have mine berried in the sand box up to their heads. On one day, I discovered that you could pop off a Barbie dolls head and put it back on; this gave me an idea…an awful but gleefully dark idea. Therefore, I found some Popsicle sticks, went out to the yard and put the heads of the Barbie’s on the sticks; therefore, I used my wonderful imagination to make Barbie and her friend’s sacrifices for a tribe of Amazonian headhunters, and Incas! The Inca part was the based on ritual of sacrificing some young child then throwing them in a pit as a gift to the gods, which I read about in the “grown-up” version of National Geographic; I managed to do this by barring Kelly and her little brother. Now I am twenty years old and now the craze for young girls is not Barbie, Bratz, or Groovy Girls (which lost weight over the years due to marketers, not anorexia) but the Lalaloopsy Dolls. These dolls were not fashioned out like a fashion-model with a ridiculous small waist like Barbie, and they were not promiscuously dressed and shaped like the Bratz dolls; they looked as if someone sewed them with tender love and care only they were plastic, had wonderfully detailed clothing, and different colors of hair. I was introduced to these dolls by my friend’s little sister who absolutely loved them; they also have cool names like Misty Magic, Crumbs Sugar Cookie, Mittens Fluffin Stuff, and my favorite Bee Spells A Lot. I felt like the Grumpy Man from Green Eggs and Ham, who in the end finally tries them, and likes them! But me, a girl who brutally abused Barbies likes dolls; it just did not seem possible. When I was playing with them, it made me think that I wished girls of my generation had Lalaloopsy Dolls, why did I think this.

I read again my favorite book that I got at Barns and Nobles called Cinderella Ate My Daughter, I read again the chapter called Pinked about how the toy industry markets differently for girls than it does for boys. In this chapter, the author visits a Toy Expo in New York and if you hate Pepto-Bismol pink, the girl section would be your ultimate nightmare. The Disney Princesses were not the only residents sailing the sea of pink or eating in the Glam Supper; there was Dora the Explorer, Abby Cadaby from Sesame Street, Bratz, and last but not least Barbie, as a Fairy, Mermaid, or a Princess. The three occupations that had cursed other toy companies to make the same decision for their female-targeted products. How did this madness begin, it all began with Disney, and I am not talking about Walt. It started when a Disney product manager named Andy Mooney visited an On-Ice show in Phoenix, Arizona and saw young girls dressed up as their favorite Disney Princess; for some reason he had a problem looking at them without disgust because…they were homemade and not Disney Products. This gave him an idea, an idea that would make even Walt himself role in his grave; he would not only make the Princesses a symbol of innocence, young rebellion, and feminine diversity; Jasmine being Arabian, Mulan being Chinese, and Pocahontas being Native American, he would make all of them including the new ones like Rapunzel and Tiana, products. Therefore, we as girls have lost the values and emotional ties to these characters; we all feel like rebelling against the rules like Jasmine, we all strive to learn more like Belle, and we all want to protect the things we love most like Mulan. Now it becomes about the image and not about what the character does or represents. Even the first Disney Princess Snow White would cringe, after all, she represents the innocence of childhood which Walt himself always wanted to protect; which made me wonder about Barbie.

Before Barbie assimilated into the three occupations that I stated before; she was supposed to be a feminist who could do anything she wanted to be; she once proved to girls that you could have a different occupation (president, veterinarian, doctor, nurse, or actor) you can still be feminine. However, that changed in the year 2000, the year that Barbie’s hips became more realistic and less doll like. Now the Barbie’s I had as a child had the original moving torso, her hips more curved, and her abdominal's had palsy skin colored panties. Now that I have seen the image of the resent hip, torso, and abdominal structure, it really makes you think about how far the designers went to give her a real sense of human anatomy, including a belly button. Why would they do this, Barbie is supposed to be a doll for girls to express and play with; is this why so many woman now are worried about how the new image of Barbie affects girls? If so, why did Mattel give Barbie a makeover and plastic surgery? Blame it on those big lipped, scantily clad teen girls, not the real ones but the most hated dolls in the world…Bratz. Why have I made this conclusion, because one day I went to one of my friends or cousins birthday and low and behold I saw some Bratz dolls and I wondered what they looked like underneath their glitzy clothing? What I saw underneath shocked me, they were atomically correct too! Has Barbie now become an image of feminine atomical perfection instead of a child’s plaything; it reminds me of what Lotso, the wicked bear from Toy Story 3, says to Ken, “You are a accessory!” It still gives me the chills and I am 20 years-old! Which makes me wonder, could Lotso be right? What about the princes from the Disney Films, could they be accessories too?

In early Disney films like Snow White, the prince was more a representation of renewal and protection of innocence; he did not slay dragons, evil, or monsters because Disney believed in self-karmic destruction which not only appears in Buddhism, but in all fairy tales. The villains though their own actions destroy themselves. However, after serious works like Dumbo and Bambi, the princes and male characters altogether take on the role of Dragon slayers or a Minor love interest; in the end, they become the protectors of immortality like in Wagner’s Ring Cycle; however, in the Ring Cycle the god’s desire for immortality and power later ends into their downfall (sound familiar?). One thing I learned about Walt was that he believed in sacrifice in the name of love and friendship; for example, during the production of Lady and the Tramp Walt was directing the last scene in which Rusty, an old and wizened dog, sacrifices his own life in order to save Tramp from the dog catcher. At first, he wanted him to die to represent the animators that died in combat in World War 2. This resonates for me the scene in Star Wars when Obi Wan distracts Luke and his friends escape by facing off with Darth Vater. In the end, Obi Wan’s sacrifice saves Luke and his friends; but in a way we know that he is still there when we hear the words, “Run Luke, run!” spoken by him even though his physical form is not there. Latter, Walt’s wife came to him and said, “Rusty should not die the kids would be upset.” Film historians latter hailed Bambi and Dumbo as a triumph because of their serious subjects for Disney films; but those words latter changed the Disney studios ideas about death, sacrifice, and even protection of innocence. For example, In Sleeping Beauty the evil witch Maleficent does not die due to karma, she dies because she turns into a dragon, which the price slays with the help of three fairies; which resonates more to Clash of the Titans than to Snow White. I ‘am surprised that not one of the fairies gave the prince a helmet that made him invisible. So when did our prince characters go from misunderstood and strong men like Price Eric, the Beast, and Mulan’s Li Shang to complete clueless man figures…here is when we bring up Hercules. Many people hated the film even though it brought in a lot of money to the company, the Hercules formula stuck until we had Hunchback of Notre Dame and Tarzan, then came back in The Emperor’s New Groove and last but not least, The Princess and the Frog. Why does the Hercules formula work, it’s simple, make the leading man an entire dimwit so we can focus on the female character; default from the deviation. When I saw the movie, it was more like watching Dudley Doright only this time the victim is the prince and the hero is an African American princess; and sorry to say but lots of rip-offs from The Swan Princess run wild in this film.

Now, we are back with the Lalaloopsy’s and now I know why I wished for these dolls in my generation. Even though only one of them is a princess, they teach girls how to be an individual rather than an imitation. All of the dolls have different interests and come from different backgrounds. When my friends little sister showed me the trailer for the Lalaloopsy movie The Search for Pillow, I noticed that each one has a different characteristic ability. For example Bee Spells-a-Lot is very intelligent and loves to learn, Crumbs Sugar Cookie loves to share her treats with everyone, and Peanut Big-Top is fun loving and energetic and is not afraid to hide it either. They also communally care about one another, and help each other to find a common goal, and if one is lost, they will go their way together to help. Now I just discovered that they even have Lalaloopses that are boys, which will probably bridge the gender gap between gender-separated toys. Now that people are realizing what is wrong with the toy and film industry in regards to gender equality. now have films like Pixar’s Brave and the Lalaloopsy dolls which teach us that in order to make change we must deviate from the norms we face every day that we find unnecessary and ridiculous; like wearing pink, being skinny, and being a princess. Being conformed to these norms is like the blue dress that Merida wears in Brave, “I can’t move, and I can’t breathe!” she cries, which is now a cry for change in all factions of girlhood. Is it not time we broke out of the dress of these norms and become individuals so we can shoot for what we desire? Now that we have Merida, and Bee-Spells-a-Lot, we certainly can.





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