And this is one of them.
I knew when I Googled for some negative views of the Monster High series that I’d find some really stupid comments but I was expecting people being totally ignorant to the deeper message behind the dolls. Instead I found someone who…
Was contemplating writing something like this after running into a blog post completely chewing out Clawdeen for managing her hairgrowth, labeling her a bad influence even though she’s also a loyal friend, an athlete, and someone who follows her dreams of running a fashion empire while at the same time remaining realistic enough to know that she’ll need more than just a love of fashion to make that dream come true.
I can get why people would say Monster High is sexist/bad influence/the anti-christ and all on first glance, but that’s the problem; It’s first glance. ‘Doll = kids, legs = hooker, make-up = whore, fashion = shallow, monster = marketing scheme, glasses = nerd, speech problem = retarded’, therefor Monster High = BAD STUFF BRAH!
And then you pick up the box, read the back, and learn that these dolls are characters, and surprisingly well worked out ones at that. They have a past, they have problems, they dream of the future and wonder how to get there. And that’s something you can relate to.
Hey, let’s talk Barbie for a moment. It was during my childhood that she got send of to the Designer Health Clinic for a breast-reduction because she was giving kids an unrealistic image of what a female body should look like. I never quite got how anyone would look at a non-realistic doll and think ‘that should be me 100%’, but apparently I had some sort of magical unicorn upbringing. Point is, I’m sure this’ll come up for MH, if it hasn’t already; it’s an easy target, if anything. Personally, I like the bodies. They’re stylized, but I think they’re stylized in a somewhat ethereal way; stripped of everything I always think they look a bit like fairies. Unstylized, however, they have my body type; small boobs and a butt that cannot be lied about. I sincerely doubt any kid would try to mould their body into a Monster High replica. If they do there might be some deeper reality-perception/self-esteem/body-image-issue going on.
But body is only one thing, right? And it’s not the great limiter of all play experience or My Little Pony and Littlest Petshop wouldn’t sell at all. It comes back to character, and making characters. And I honestly think that Monster High shines in this department. Quicky comparison; Outside of the show-regulars, My Little Pony does nothing in this way. When you buy a pony you get a single line about something she likes and that’s it. And that’s fine. It allows for own character building, with pretty much all freedom. Barbie I’ve always felt sort of jumped the shark while forgetting her motorbike. She is everyone, and because of that she’s also no one. Ignoring the actually named Barbies for a moment (Esmeralda, yay!), Barbie is a mother, a sibling to two younger sisters who for some reason have to live with her, a vet, a show-jumper, a ski-instructor, a ballet-dancer, a bubble-fairy, lover to two boyfriends, friend to numerous, a super model… We always know what she is, but never who she is. We sort of assume that she’s kind, but we never really know. With every version her history is erased and rewritten.
So back to Monster High, which boldly ran into the opposite direction, screaming and arms flailing as it went, so to speak. It’s a muddled franchise with at least three different continuities, but it has those continuities, and it has them for everyone. If you watch the webisodes you can pick up any doll and odds are you know what to expect of them as characters. You know what they like, what they don’t like, where they’re from and generally where they’re going. The ‘core group’ has gone through a small but very important plot and they’ve done it together and learned a thing or two along the way (though how well those lessons tuck seem to depend on who’s writing the next episode).
I’m not sure what that does play-wise. If MLP and to an extend Barbie really pokes a kid towards developing characters, then I guess MH pushes more for plot. You know the characters, now can you handle them in a situation of your own devising? (Not that any amount of pre-rendered characters will stop a kid from making up their own, but let’s run with the set-up here)
And then I lost track of where I was going, but took that moment of derailing to look at my small MH collection.
I can’t see them as sexualized. I’m the sort of 25-y/o virgin pervert that spends the whole of Thor waiting for the titular character to loose his shirt again and, if possible, fuck Loki up the nearest wall but I can’t see these dolls as sexualized. Or even sexy, though I know that’ll be there if I squint hard enough. It just isn’t my first impression. Ghoulia has a nice, pants-involved outfit, Spectra’s skirts are knee-length and her top hits her collar-bones, and Cleo wears more to bed than I ever did since I’ve been old enough to have pajama-preferences. Mad Lab Lagoona is kinda sexy, but it’s less the length of the dress and more the combination with the lab coat that does it.
So Frankie and Clawdeen wear short skirts. Tennis players wear fairly short skirts. It’s not the length of the skirt that makes something sexual, I think, it’s what you do with it. If you’re showing your panties on purpose, then hell yeah you’re being sexual, and possibly sexy. Sadly, this is apparently my opinion and not the one of the rest of society. Anecdote time then; like the poster above I’m ‘into lolita’, and whenever I feel like I actually want to be seen and be proud of myself I’ll generally roll into that fashion (as opposed to ‘I’m going to be seen no matter what and I don’t want to look like a hobo’, which is more the daily attitude). Anyway, this tale takes us to a bright and sunny way where me, my knee-length skirt and petticoat were sitting on a bench, waiting for the tram. And on the other side of the road there was a random guy who was wandering around, and motioning very hard for me to open my legs. Didn’t know me, I didn’t know him, no verbal communication, but if I would open my legs so he could stare at my bloomers.
He wandered off, came back, whole ritual all over again. ‘You’re wearing a skirt, open your legs so I can see your panties’.
I know that this isn’t everyday normal (at least, I hope it’s not), but it does prove Consumate’s point; people assume that if you’re wearing something non-standard, you must be doing it for the sexy. And if my knee-length, petticoat padded attire apparently puts me in the ‘stripper.showgirl’ category, then Frankie and Clawdeen must be hookers of the lowest kind, right?
Or, you know, they could just like wearing skirts. They’re actually quite comfy and liberating, what with not having to deal with denim invading your crotch every time you sit down and all that.