Mattel's collection of Goth Barbies is the second best-selling doll line in the world, but some say the monster-themed brand could be sending the wrong message.
The toy manufacturer introduced its Monster High franchise of dolls in 2010 and they've skyrocketed in popularity ever since, now ranking No. 2 in the world after the original Barbie. Themed as the offspring of famous monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and Medusa
, the dolls are intended to promote acceptance.
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"The message about the brand is really to celebrate your own freaky flaws, especially as bullying has become such a hot topic," Cathy Cline, head of marketing for all Mattel's girls' brands, told NPR.
"And it's also one of the fastest growing brands within the entire toy industry."
But not everyone is cheering Goth Barbie. One blogger thinks the dolls might have a negative impact on young girls.
"In reality, the brand doesn't really encourage individuality at all," Jezebel's Callie Beusman writes
. "A quick look at the Monster High website makes it pretty clear that the brand's message is: 'Okay, girls, let your freak flag fly! You're free to be you no matter what! As long as 'you' is a fashion-loving, boy-chasing, very thin teenager with the facial features of a cast member from 'Pretty Little Liars.'"
The dolls are also being criticized for promoting an unhealthy and unrealistic body image. Cline mentioned the goal of the line is to celebrate one's "freaky flaws," but here is a sampling of the imperfections the Monster High students supposedly suffer from, as per their bios on the website:
"Draculaura," daughter of Dracula:
"Since I can't see myself in the mirror, I have to leave the house not knowing if my clothes and makeup are just right."
Clawdeen Wolf, daughter of The Werewolf:
"My hair is worthy of a shampoo commercial and that's just what grows on my legs. Plucking and shaving is definitely a full time job but that's a small price to pay for being scarily fabulous."
Lagoona Blue, daughter of the Sea Monster:
"My skin tends to dry out if I spend too much time out of the water so I go through a fright of moisturizer. Chlorine from the Monster High pool also has the tendency to turn my blonde hair blue."
"If the purported goal of the toy is to teach girls the value of self-acceptance, this really isn't cutting it," Beusman writes. "In the first place, 'hairy legs' or 'dry skin' are far from the most pressing 'freaky flaw' that a youth can face. These character bios serve to reinforce the feminine imperative to be hairless, made up, and moisturized. To market the brand as a celebration of flaws is ridiculously specious."
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