Do you remember the days when Polly Pocket was a half-inch, smiling figurine that came with a pocket-sized play house? She looked about 9 years old, and was designed for adventures around her various “houses”. Having fun with Polly meant buying new and exciting places for her to explore. You do remember? Well, now you can kiss that carefree Polly Pocket goodbye! These days, little girls are playing with a Polly Pocket who would be better named “Mini Barbie.” She’s grown from her previous half-inch to a full 5 inches, has long, neon hair flowing down to her calves, twistable, skinny limbs, a tiny, accentuated waste, and giant breasts! Instead of portable houses and places for Polly to go on adventures, purchase of Polly is now followed up with…. you guessed it! Polly’s wardrobe. Since when did four year old’s dolls become all about dressing to look hot?Barbie has long been a favorite, and she perhaps embodies the worst distortion of the female body, with her impossibly long legs, large bust, tiny feet and rapidly disappearing waist. Chucking Barbie, however, would be pretty hard to do. As long as there were always other dolls to compensate, it seemed like little girls would have some chance of retaining a little love for their prepubescent bodies. But now, more than ever, little girls are being fed toys that idealize teens. Makeup, breasts, narrow waists, and fashion dominate dolls made for the youngest ages. Perhaps the worst of all is Bratz, the doll that came out soon after we were past our doll-buying stage. Marketed mainly to 3 and 4 year olds, Bratz have giant, made-up baby faces, and disproportionate, womanly bodies. Their web site alone positively frightens me. Little girls are busy obsessing over a doll who teaches them to spend their time on appearance, as the Bratz doll is “the only girl with a passion for fashion”. Where did the years go for jumping rope, playing tag, or going to the park? Or what about riding bikes, going on hikes, exploring anything but one’s glamorous reflection? Bratz are fast-forwarding childhood, so that girls are taught to see life as a journey culminating in puberty. There is simply no mistaking the Bratz website as you read their farewell pop-up: “Until next time. Take care. Keep it real. And above all else BE BEAUTIFUL”.
Thanks, but no thanks: I wasn’t raised to be a brat. There may be a time to feel pretty, but more importantly, time is for discovery, learning, and action. Right now, I could straighten my hair, or I could go read my book in the park. I choose my book, and above all else, I chose not to BE BEAUTIFUL, but to BE ALIVE.