Much Too High
I really need to make a point of recognizing how lucky I am that my daughter was born late enough to remain mostly oblivious to the now waning but once ubiquitous Bratz dolls, pictured here in all their evil:
Photo Appears Courtesy of jeremyriad
These ghastly little loathsome horrors still infuriate me. It’s like every clothing manufacturer who ever stitched the word “juicy” on the ass of a pair of sweats designed for nine-year-old girls got together with the mouth-breathers who feel that nothing’s cuter than a shirt that reads “Spoiled”, and then they channeled all their lesser instincts and cynicism and their chilling capacity for manipulating gender expectations into a lone line of hurtful, hateful children’s dolls. I detest Bratz dolls with a righteous breed of furious indignation that borders on the irrational.
So what to make, then, of my burgeoning affection for Monster High dolls?
Photo credit: fuckyeahdollz, whose username calls to mind a classic headline from The Onion
Are these dolls any less offensive than Bratz? They all wear skin-tight pants and variations of what Daria called “come-and-get-it pumps”, and their heads are no less monstrously disproportionate than those of Bratz dolls, although I have no sociopolitical objections or feminist concerns about giant heads; I just find them amusing and unsettling.
As for their bodies, they’re clearly nowhere near as absurd as your average super-heroine’s figure.
Photo Appears Courtesy of Michael Crawford
More than anything, the bodies of Monster High dolls are simply strange, not sexy. When they’re fully clothed, their breasts are essentially nonexistent, although their proportions are more clearly idealized or fetishized when they’re nude.
Photo Appears Courtesy of Monster High Dolls
While I could not locate a good example for this essay, I have seen photos of Monster High dolls wherein their wee bellies almost appear to be distended; combined with their thin, wispy limbs, their subtly swollen stomachs almost resemble those of the starving children on whose behalf Sally Struthers campaigned so earnestly in the Christian Children’s Fund commercials of the 1980s.
Apparently the dolls are based on a series of books, and there is a Monster High cartoon, as well, but as I am unfamiliar with these media tie-ins, I cannot speculate about the manner in which the dolls are marketed to girls, nor about the style of characterization the figures might represent. If one were to place a Monster High doll alongside Barbie, I do not know which would represent the lesser of two evils. I only know that I inexplicably find these Monster High dolls charming. Perhaps Monster High dolls are no less damaging than Bratz, and I am only tentatively willing to endorse them because Bratz are evil and ugly whereas Monster High dolls are evil and cute?
I suspect Flickr is to blame. I am confronted with all manner of unfamiliar toys on Flickr, and it was there that I first spotted and quickly became intrigued by Monster High dolls.
I am told that these dolls are difficult to pose, and I assume that much of what I find compelling in these photos stems from customization and clever hairstyling and other craft-work at which I am less than adept, and so I would probably struggle to produce photos as clever and cute as the above, added to which I am anxious about the body image message these Monster High dolls will send to my daughter if she sees them atop my toy shelf alongside my G.I. Joes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Still, in spite of all these concerns, I hope to someday procure Monster High dolls to photograph. And should I start yearning to wear sweatpants with “juicy” written across the seat, I promise I won’t write a blog post about it.