Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

Sexy Horses and Trolls and Fairies, Oh My: Toys all Tarted Up

Hot-to-trot ponies? Dolls that wax? Toys get tarted up – Parenting – TODAYshow.com.

In a story on the Today Show website, they show several examples of toys that are crazily sexualized, with even horses wearing high heels, make-up, and coy looks. What’s up with that? Consider that even toys that were very popular have now been “made over” into sexier version. Sexy trolls? Yep, the old Troll dolls that you may have played with as a child have received a make-over that makes them more attractive, and really not Trolls anymore. See this website for the complete new look and marketing pitch, move over Trolls and hello Trollz.

Rainbow Bright and her friends have been made over from cute little kids into short-skirted teens while the Disney fairies are more scantily clad and, frankly, seem a little seductive. The picture below is an example of wallpaper that children can download on the website. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the new and improved fairies below.

Compared to the Tinker Bell of old below.

Why are our kids toys being tarted up? What is the point of making a sexy horse or baby, as seen in Baby Bratz, which I talked about in the post Baby Bratz: Sexualized Toddlers? We’re told that it’s because kids like it, but is that true? When my six-year-old saw a Baby Bratz doll at a store, she said, “Those are weird babies. Why do they look like that?” My older daughter laughed out loud when I showed her the picture of the Struts sexy horse above. The truth is, kids don’t like these toys any better than they would more appropriate toy. They just like what’s available and promoted heavily through marketing that’s targeted directly at them.

Come on, parents and other caring adults, don’t buy these ridiculous toys for your kids. There are other good toys out there that don’t make everything that’s female, from a baby to a horse, wear make-up, high heels, and scanty clothing. We can vote for or against these toys with our pocketbooks. If they don’t sell, they’ll go away.

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22 comments on “Sexy Horses and Trolls and Fairies, Oh My: Toys all Tarted Up

  1. Isabelle
    June 4, 2012

    Recently launched in France, the LEGO friends ‘ve got breasts and are taller than other LEGO figures. I’m also wonderring why toys firms absolutly want to make our children’s plays to be sexualized. I’ve scooped your very interesting post (http://www.scoop.it/t/marketing-de-l-enfant-et-strategie-de-contenu).

  2. Marisa
    June 4, 2012

    I have to wonder whether or not some children would have a preference for these types of toys even though they are odd. I have had countless experiences when adults have encouraged my daughter to choose the “girly” toy, sticker, book, etc. We don’t buy gendered toys but I still foresee lots of conversations in our future.

  3. Emma
    December 6, 2011

    I completely agree with this. I remember when Bratz dolls came out and it has only gotten far worse from there. I’m a mother of a three month old girl and I am obviously quite concerned with what things will be like when she is of the age to play with dolls. I would NEVER, ever let any of these enter my house. Haha I will probably end up calling my mother for advice on this once.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      December 12, 2011

      Thanks for the comment, Emma. I agree that toys have really become much more sexualized. It’s nice to know that there are many of us who are asking for something different. Hopefully the toy companies will start to listen to us and give us more positive options.

  4. Kristina
    December 5, 2011

    Couldn’t agree more. Thank you for speaking up about this! (Came across your article via Beauty Redefined.)

  5. whatsaysyou
    March 25, 2011

    Well said, Jennifer, and thanks for bringing it up. I agree those toys are tarted up to the point that they are inappropriate for children. Please keep it up.

  6. John
    March 15, 2011

    Exactly what is wrong with the ‘new’ tinkerbell? She has friends? Because there is otherwise no difference.

    She is not more scantily clad, she has the same very short dress as was introduced in the 70s. Her new friends have the same or more clothing. They are not being seductive, they are looking at each other rather than the camera.

    Your other points, I agree with.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 15, 2011

      John, I see your point. Tinker Bell has always been scantily clad. What I’m looking at is the body language that is often used in content analysis to describe sexualized imagery and gender display, such as the tilted heads and touching of self and others. Look at the way that the old vs new ones are standing and the gestures that they’re making. The old Tinker Bell is facing outward with arms in a gesture of strength, “Here I am!” she seems to say. Her facial expression is smiling and open with her head facing straight on, these are non-verbals indicating assertiveness. The new fairies are standing with hips cocked and heads pointed downward and looking up, leaning on and touching one another and themselves (hands on hips). Many of these non-verbals have been linked to submissive and gendered message.

      I think that your point can certainly be argued, so I won’t completely disagree with you on this one. In my opinion, the new Disney Fairies are clearly displaying some of the non-verbal behaviors that are consistently found in the research indicating gender display and sexualization. I agree that others may not see this when they look at that picture.

      • Emily
        December 6, 2011

        I actually was never much a fan of Tinkerbell because she was sexualized from Peter Pan onward. Watch the movie again if you don’t remember. She stands and looks at herself in the mirror, when she sees her rump is big then she looks shocked, does a self-calculation, looks horrified… she was a pinup from day one and self-absorbed, greedy, jealous, etc. As the books said, she’s too small for any emotion other than the one she feels at that second. A ditzy blonde, thin and vapid was Disney’s interpretation. The new Tink is actually far more complex than she was ever meant to be, and while all the fairies are dressed way too revealingly, it’s an actual upgrade as far as female beauty in my opinion.

      • Emily
        December 6, 2011

        http://i2.listal.com/image/950866/500full.jpg Here’s a link to what I’m talking about from the original movie. Yours, I think, is from the 80’s “Wonderful World of Disney” and they had to bring it down a bit there.

      • Jennifer Shewmaker
        December 6, 2011

        You’re right, Emily. I watched the original and read the book not too long ago and Tinkerbell in the movie is certainly portrayed as a pin up with a limited emotional range.

      • Bob Britten
        June 2, 2012

        There was an urban legend that Tinkerbell was based on Marilyn Monroe (including her proportions). Turns out that’s not true, but the reasoning was the same. The actual model was actress Margaret Kerry, who was once known as “The Most Beautiful Legs in Hollywood”: http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/tinkerbell.asp

  7. Jennifer Shewmaker
    March 14, 2011

    Llanwyn lol. Yes, my kids even thought it was weird. One said, “Well, I’d probably play with it if someone gave me one. But, why does a horse need high heels?” Needless to say, we will not be having one of these in our house!

  8. Llanwyn Vyskala
    March 14, 2011

    That horse thing scared me…it’s like an equestrian version of chucky….

  9. Rubber Ducky
    March 13, 2011

    That is one creepy horse doll thing.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 14, 2011


  10. Brain
    March 13, 2011

    Since there’s no branding on the Disney image of the fairies- I just want to know how sure are you that it’s not an unofficial reproduction of their content?

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 14, 2011

      These are the photos from the linked article. But, I am familiar with this image, it’s from the downloadable wallpaper from the Disney Fairies website. I’ve added a link directly to that website.

  11. Leon
    March 13, 2011

    And yes I am joking.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 14, 2011

      Yes, that is a very strange toy. I have to wonder about the process of development. How many people were involved who thought this was a good idea? Didn’t anyone say, “Hey, guys, this is just weird”???

      • Selena
        June 2, 2012

        no ones cares…im sorry no one does i mean like does it really matter that they look pretty,i didn’t think so/

  12. Leon
    March 13, 2011

    The horse in the photo, whom you have chosen to attack is actually a stallion. I think it’s outrageous that you attack a member of the equestrian transgender community in such an outrageous manner.
    And you call yourself a christian!

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