Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Educator, Author

Monster High: Is this how you teach acceptance?

I wrote a post last year asking, Does Monster High Teach Kindness and another that provided an exercise in Deconstructing Monster High. My main problem with the Monster High brand is that Mattel says it promotes acceptance of others and oneself by embracing and celebrating the characters’ flaws and imperfections. And yet, again and again in their webisodes you see girl on girl bullying. Very rarely is there a realistic, prosocial approach that models for kids a positive and effective way to deal with problems with friends or bullies.

Some have claimed that I’m just not paying attention to the character development, and the girls do learn and demonstrate prosocial skills later in the series of webisodes. Really? Let me show you two webisodes, one from last year and one new one.

In “Mad Science Fair,” the character Cleo takes advantage of her best friend by claiming that the winning project is her own. Frankie and Lagoona tell Ghoulia that she needs to stand up for herself. Good point, right? Kids need to learn to negotiate this kind of friendship issue. So how do the Monster High characters solve this problem? Is it in a way that promotes acceptance and teaches prosocial skills to young kids? Let’s watch….


Wow, great lesson! If your best friend takes advantage of you, get back at her through physical retaliation! But maybe there’s been character development that I’m not taking into account and the characters have learned to handle conflict better. Let’s check out a newer webisode and see if there’s evidence of that.

In this webisode, we see the Monster High characters responding in a very similar way to the previous one, only this time it’s the mean characters that they’re responding to rather than a friend. In both webisodes, the “nice” Monster High characters respond to bullying by others, whether friend or enemy, by bullying them back.

Listen, I don’t care if Monster High teaches prosocial skills and acceptance or not. If all Mattel wants to do is make money, fine with me, that’s their business. But when they continually promote the Monster High brand as teaching girls about acceptance and then consistently deliver this kind of negative content, I have to call them on it. There are a lot of great educational programs that are carefully developed to teach prosocial skills that give kids tools for dealing with bullying and friendship problems. Monster High isn’t one of them.

If you’re interested in exploring this brand a bit more, I’m following this post up with another analyzing Mattel’s claims a bit more closely.

11 comments on “Monster High: Is this how you teach acceptance?

  1. Pingback: Fishnets and Fangs for the Win? The Dark Side of Monster High | Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

  2. Mónica
    December 7, 2012

    Dear Jennifer,

    I´m from Quito, Ecuador. Monster High dolls are new in the market and I am interested in this brand since I´m a mother of a six years old girl and I´m a market researcher. I´m agree with you this brand is being marketed to little girls, they are placed next to other toys for litlle girls in the store. For my little girl this is an atractive brand now, she knows the brand and some of the doll´s names. Awareness is the first stage a brand must get, then becomes trial. My doughter has suggested me one of this dolls as an option for Christmas gift. I find these dolls very uglies, I do not understand why they are atractive for little kids, for my girl…what have you found about this?

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      December 9, 2012

      Hi Monica, thanks for the comment. I think kids are attracted to the uniqueness of MH. I wish Mattel would make them less sexy and more truly focused on celebrating differences. The “monster” theme could be very positive if handled the right way. I just don’t think Mattel really understands how to do unique and different without sexy. Have you checked out Lottie Dolls? They’re available online at Amazon and, while not monstrously different, they all have different stories that are fun and active.

  3. samei
    October 5, 2012

    this is so stupid. you have 2 out of 50 episodes on here. i dare anyone to watch some others. like the very first one. new girl frankie wants to fit in with the others so she lies and talks her self up. but in the end she learns people like the real her as thats what important.

    monster high figures are just as realistic as barbie. have we all seen how barbie would look if she was real? heres the link http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://collegecandy.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/real-life-barbie.jpg&imgrefurl=http://collegecandy.com/tag/real-life-barbie/&h=607&w=456&sz=51&tbnid=JqmKBHpip_1wMM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=68&zoom=1&usg=__ZmfIksYGrhnQd_IAnNH9vt_wB1c=&docid=Xp-rD7nO1kybEM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-sVuUNqVBYekigfA8YGYDg&sqi=2&ved=0CCgQ9QEwAQ&dur=521

    but its ok. because barbie, bratz, and monster high arnt real. they are dolls. next critics will be saying the novi star doll are creating complex’s. (alien dolls for those unaware of novi stars)

    i beg you to watch skull shores monster high movie where everyone learns that just because andy ( a new charater wsho can grow bug like hulk) is different , doesnt mean he is bad. they get to know him.
    dont judge a book by its cover. that kind of thing. or is that what you want to teach children?
    that person has different coloured skin or hair or clothes. treat them different.?????

    as “bad” as the monster high girls dress. how is it any worse than the way girls dress in real life?
    yes the monster high girls are around 16 years old. therefore they dress like average 16 year old girls.

    there are about 90-100 monster high doll. ild say 4 of them are wear very short skirts. tho i must say 2 have tight/stocking underneath
    .10 dolls are bed time ones 6 in below the knee pants, 1 in shorts and 3 in knee lengh nighties
    new day at school dolls (6) all have pant except draculara who has a long sleeve dress and full length tights
    12 are dance line 8 in knee length dresses 4 in shorter ones
    i could go on but i think my point is clear. these dolls arnt slutty.
    most of these “slut” dolls people are pointing out are from the swim lines . when they go to the beach. out of the 14 swim line girls 13 are wear a one piece WITH a coverup. the one that isnt is wearing boardshorts, a cover up and a cropped singlet. YES they are wearing heels. i bet swim barbie wore heels!! mattel isnt going to recreate a foot mold that is flat!. that would just cause drama that the shoes arnt changable.

    people are so judgmental these days. please know the whole story before you cast your opinion.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      October 10, 2012

      Thanks for the comment. If you’d read my other posts on Monster High, you would know that I’ve watched the shows extensively. In fact, I’ve done a lot of academic research on their content, and the flat out objective truth is that the show promotes social aggression much more often than positive, realistic responses to social difficulties. I specifically noted that there are some positives, and even mentioned the fact that the dolls represent a variety of skin tones and accents as one of those positives.

      These dolls may dress like your average 16 year old, but they are marketed to your average 6 year old, so, no, the sexing up is not okay. It’s not developmentally appropriate for the target audience.

      I think it’s very interesting that you interpret my comments as “judgmental” of people. In fact, this is a product that I’m reviewing. This product is marketed to very young children, and the themes are not developmentally appropriate for them.

  4. alyssa ibarra
    July 22, 2012

    Hi I have to dissagree with you when I was little I was prediabetic when my birthday came my parents got me one of these dolls and it inspired me to loose weight 100 pounds later I was nolonger at risk but I only weighed 90 pounds these dolls can change peoples life even a 16 yearolds

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      July 22, 2012

      Hi Alyssa,
      Just to clarify, are you saying that the Monster High dolls inspired you to lose weight? Thanks for helping me understand your perspective.

  5. Pingback: Monster High’s Mixed Messages about Bullying with Tips for Talking with Kids | Dr. Jennifer Shewmaker

  6. Pingback: Don’t Claim to be Promoting Self-Acceptance in Teens While Selling Sexiness to Six Year Olds

  7. Tean
    June 14, 2012

    Oh my gosh I thought the Monster High things were just dolls, I had no idea they were webisodes! WHY are they drawn and dressed as impossible barbies?? (Un?)forunately I can’t watch the episodes because I’m at work but I’m preeeetty sure I’ve seen enough already.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      June 28, 2012

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, the webisodes are in some ways worse than the dolls, because there is so much negative treatment of each other, even among friends.

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2012 by in Recognizing and tagged , , , .
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