Quick hit: More sexification of childhood

Via Feministing, this NYT article describes the “facelifts” that classic 80s cartoon characters are getting. The PR people say it’s about updating them to connect with modern kids, but this update might remind you of another 80s makeover we’ve discussed recently.

Here, for instance, is Strawberry Shortcake, past and present:

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I just want to point out the bit of the article I found the most appalling:

American Greetings is dusting off another of its lines, the Care Bears, which will return with a fresh look this fall (less belly fat, longer eyelashes).

Thinner, but with longer eyelashes. DEAR AMERICAN GREETINGS: THEY ARE BEARS. THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE SEXY. NO ONE WANTS TO FUCK THE CARE BEARS.

Well, except furries, and I’m pretty sure you need to be at least pubescent to make that sexual discovery, right?

78 thoughts on “Quick hit: More sexification of childhood

  1. NO ONE WANTS TO FUCK THE CARE BEARS.

    Hee!

    I’m a little blown away by Angelina Ballerina — they made her thinner but also ruined her ballet form. If you compare the pictures, she’s doing much much better at her old mouse-sized self than with her new unusually-svelte-mouse-sized body.

    I watched an episode of the new Strawberry Shortcake show recently and… yeah, ugh. Also, did you see the part where Strawberry ShortCAKE is now all about fruit, not baked goods?

    This time, in keeping with contemporary nutritional concerns, the franchise will downplay the sugary dessert theme and move, as Mr. Conrad put it, “fruit-forward.”

    “It’s also about creating a cohesive line,” Mr. Conrad said. “We’re downplaying characters that were part of Strawberry’s world but who didn’t immediately shout out fruit.”

  2. Shorter American culture: “Attention girls! You may not have sexual feelings yourselves, because that’s dirty. However, please put enormous amount of effort into becoming a wank-fantasy for any hetero dudes who might be looking at you at any given time. Do not give the impression that you are aware of what you’re doing, though, because we like you innocent. Also, eat nothing but locally-grown organic air.”

  3. A box set of the old 80’s Sesame Street episodes was re released with a parental warning label saying it was not appropriate for children. Apparently the Sesame Street I used to watch modeled bad behavior like eating too many sweets. The current new cookie monster spouts some blather about how cookies are some time treats. I think the current makers missed the point on this one, cookie monster was about sharing and teaching children to not be greedy on a level that they would understand. But now it has to be made into another example of “healthy” eating habits.

  4. NO ONE WANTS TO FUCK THE CARE BEARS.

    HAHAHAHAHA.

    Sesame Street not appropriate for children?? Because of Cookie Monster?? Yeah, kids, don’t eat the furniture like he does. That’s a very bad thing to do. You’d never be able to figure that out for yourselves, even though you’re all supposed to be above average.

    **rolls eyes until they can see Meowser’s intestines**

  5. eat nothing but locally grown organic air

    BAH!

    Seriously, the strawberry shortcake thing is G-R-O-S-S and Mr’ Conrad’s “Fruit-forward” line makes me want to vomit. Seriously. It’s not Strawberry shortcake, it’s a fruity Bratz doll. ugh.

  6. When I first saw the “updated” character picture, my first thought wasn’t how much thinner she was, but how much more sexualized she was. And how much less cute she was. And how much more generic she was. There’s nothing individual about her anymore – just another anime inspired design that could be swapped with half a dozen others.

    Fortunately, the original Strawberry Shortcake came out slightly past my time, so I don’t have any personal memories they’re stomping on.

  7. moonlight0806: I heard about the Sesame Street thing recently and was shocked. What I remember learning from Cookie Monster is that if you get obsessed with one thing and hog it all to yourself, you become boring and slightly annoying and no one wants to share with you. Which, frankly, is something every little kid ought to know.

    And isn’t this Strawberry Shortcake’s second makeover in recent years? In the newer cartoon, she’s wearing jeans and a big sailor-type hat, but at least she still looks like a little girl (round face, straight body, none of this coy head-tilting Bambi-eyed nonsense).

  8. Dani, you’re right, that’s the show I saw, with the sailor hat outfit. It was still obnoxiously modernized — they were riding around on skateboards or something? I don’t know. The little girl I was watching with ate it right up.

  9. They messed around with Polly Pocket, too. I saw an ad on TV the other day while watching Spongebob. She used to be a teeny little child-doll, now she’s a fashion forward tweenager. I was like, WTF? And that’s only been maybe 15 years or something since my younger daughter was a polly-fan.

  10. None of these redone cartoons (as bad as they are) even comes close to the cartoon named Winx that they play on Fox kids. I watch it every few weeks for the purpose of seeing what kids are watching and being taught. I suggest you watch it, but prepared yourself. The female characters barely wear any clothes and the clothes they do wear are all hyper sexualized. Their proportions are even more ridiculous than Barbie. Really you should watch it and be amazed at what can be pawned off as children’s programing.

  11. Am I the only one weirded out by the fact that Strawberry Shortcake went from having a ‘real’ hair color (red) to some crazy pink hair?

    Let’s have girls play with dolls with a completely unattainable standard (unless of course we buy ‘strawberry shortcake brand hair color’)

    Of course I might be extra sensitive because I was a red haired girl in the 80s who loved that Strawberry shortcake had hair like me (curly red hair) unlike all the other blond haired blue eyed dolls out there.

  12. You forgot the attempt to redo the Betty and Veronica comic strips manga-style, which was met with dismay. BTW, this week at the supermarket, I saw a story in an Archie digest (hey, had to kill time while lining up to pay!) in which you see Archie and his grandfather… who’s actually the original Archie from the 1940s! The older Archie was wearing the classic outfit (the black R sweater, the checkered pants, the bowtie…) and the old jalopy was in the story too! No mention who was contemporary Archie’s grandmother (hopefully neither the original Betty or Veronica, as his dating of the younger version would be quite creepy…).

  13. The industry has been hyper-sexualizing my childhood so much in recent years, it’s driving me nuts. If they start screwing with Cabbage Patch Dolls, I’m going to throw a fit.

    Rachel @ The F-Word has a great post on this topic too (I would post the link, but I have no idea how to do that).

  14. Am I the only one weirded out by the fact that Strawberry Shortcake went from having a ‘real’ hair color (red) to some crazy pink hair?

    I think I am fine with encouraging children to have weird colored hair. I mean I was always careful to give little girls and their parents advice on how to TEMPORARILY turn their hair red/purple/green/whatever, just in case they hated it, but I sure was ecstatic when they asked. Fun hair dye is about the least nefarious body modification I can think of.

  15. FJ: yikes!!! Aside from little beauty contest-moms, who the hell would make their little girls wear heels??? You want dress shoes for little girls, make her wear good old maryjanes.

  16. Oh, and I thought that Strawberry Shortcake was supposed to be a modern version of Raggedy Ann and Andy, hence the classic doll look…

  17. How sad is it that I was happy to at least see that Strawberry Shortcake doesn’t have big breasts? (Yes, Ariel, I’m looking right at you)

  18. I watched an episode of the new Strawberry Shortcake show recently and… yeah, ugh. Also, did you see the part where Strawberry ShortCAKE is now all about fruit, not baked goods?

    I was around for Strawberry Shortcake as a kid. Heck, she was on my metal lunchbox. (looking back as an adult, I’m betting the combination of my favorite fruit, my favorite color and a “feminine” design made it a winner… I was a tomboy, but I hated people thinking I was a real boy because obviously girls were So Much Cooler.)

    Thing is, as I kid, I don’t think I’d ever had anything but homemade strawberry shortcake… and the kind my mom makes is all about the fruit. Assuming she could beat me to the strawberries :D. Takes a lot of strawberry plants to keep a 4 year old from eating them *all*. So I don’t mind the idea of focusing on tasty strawberries and blueberries. And I seriously don’t remember a focus on candy or “bad” baked goods as a kid… most of what I remember was fruit desserts that easily passed muster with my mother. Fruit desserts were good and healthy in her book, at least if they were made at home and not mass produced. (and she had a pretty easy time of making “not mass produced ” stick, since she’s a good cook and loves fruit desserts)

  19. Mary martha, I’m more concerned with the fact that they turned her tight curls into straight hair. Naturally curly hair is something that is targetted as needing fixing almost as much as fat.

    This makes me sad because I loved strawberry shortcake as a little girl. I had a strawberry shortcake bicycle!

    Oh, and ladyjaye, they’re crib shoes, they’re for babies too young to stand or walk. They’re just supposed to be for fun or something. Not that that makes it okay.

  20. This is why I am so leery of ever having kids. My boyfriend and I are starting to talk about getting engaged and this is an argument we have a lot. He talks like kids are an inevitability, you get married and that’s what you do, you have kids, and it’s so awesome or whatever. But I don’t know if I am strong enough to raise a child in a world that seems hellbent on destroying our children and hopefully taking us with them, because, presumably, everything will run better once we’re all assimilated by the Borg? I don’t want to be a happy robot. Happy robots don’t understand that they aren’t really happy, but merely complacent.

    And don’t even get me started on the cookie monster thing. When I was a kid, I reasoned that he was a COOKIE MONSTER, and since, you know, honey badgers eat honey, and this was a fantastic world in Sesame Street with things like monsters in it, it made sense that he was a special kind of monster that needs to live on cookies just like other animals need to live on, say, tree leaves, which was another valid food option to some animals but that I could not subsist on myself, having sampled one at some point. If I figured that all on my ownsome as a tot, and our new methods of raising and schooling kids are so superior to the ones used on me, then you cannot convince me that today’s children are somehow so mentally stunted that they are helpless against the urge to take their nutritional cues from a big blue puppet.

    As to books, I lucked out, because somehow even though I was young, impressionable, and had a classic poor body image, I was also easily bored with superficial and stupid characters and never even looked past the cover of a Sweet Valley High book (I succumbed to Baby Sitter’s Club because I liked kids but I always skipped the chapters that talked about basically nothing but their clothes because fashion meant nothing and less than nothing to me).

    One I loved so much that I actually negotiated a trade with my school library after I graduated so I could own it (I will give you this lovely bag here of books I don’t read if you relinquish these three I can’t live without) was Dinah and the Green Fat Kingdom. Dinah, who is fat and constantly teased for it by her family and the world at large, learns about loving herself from a darling pug puppy she rescues and a larger-than-life neighbor who is very obese, very confident, and an intelligent, thoughtful, loving woman living in a big house full of animals, her sisters (also fat) and her disabled but brilliant son, who becomes a love interest for Dinah near the end of the book. It’s a stunning piece of fiction that everyone who ever lived should read at least once. Dinah hides in a tree where she imagines a world (the Green Fat Kingdom) where the fattest people are the most beautiful. I WAS Dinah. I wasn’t even that fat back then, but I felt her. The way that she was so sensitive and imaginative and spiritual didn’t just speak to me, it sang. She validated parts of me that were completely alien to anyone I might have tried to confide in about them… I was not alone. I recommend that book to anyone and everyone, ever.

  21. I used to like anime, before it TOOK OVER THE WORLD. Every kid that wants to show me their drawings brings out a sheaf of anime. And now everything is getting turned into anime on television as well. Big eyes, freaky little nose shadows…urrrgggg.

  22. Strawberry Shortcake was after my time, but I did see the show once when I was babysitting, and I thought it was horrible. The plot (as I remember it) was: SS got into trouble, she stood around crying, someone came and rescued her. To my smug teenaged self the “cry until someone helps you” moral of the story seemed like a bad message to send to little girls. Maybe that wasn’t representative of the usual plot though?

    (And the whole cookie monster doesn’t eat cookies any more business is incredibly stupid. Even if a kid was inspired to imitate him, one cookie binge isn’t going to make her instantly fat .)

  23. Does anyone remember that Strawberry Shortcake copycat cartoon where the characters were flower-people instead of muffin-people, and the bad guy (who was that exact same generic bad guy) was a bug thing?

    FJ, I heard a very smart comedienne say that men like women in high heels b/c they makes us easier to hunt; it looks like we are turning girls into prey at younger and younger ages.

  24. I can’t tell, are we sexualizing childhood or infantilizing adult women here? And is there a difference?

  25. Omigod – those baby high heels, FJ! Have to be the tackiest thing I’ve seen – like – ever.

    Actually I think Strawberry Shortcake’s pretty unappealing in whichever guise but the po-faced, pro-fruit manifesto is just plain sad. On a related note I have to say the way she looks now is actually nothing new. In the late 60s, Mattell made these godawful tiny dolls with pre-punk freaky hair colours and extra large heads called ‘Kiddles’. You could get them in fake perfume bottles, complete with nasty synthetic perfume smell; and you could get them inside various pieces of fake bling – like a big pink ring that you could open in order to take out the teeny shocking-pink haired Kiddle. I adored these creepy things. (Hey, I was 8 years old). They horrified my dad, who used to refer to them as my “collection of shrunken heads”.

  26. I had some strawberry shortcake dolls when I was little, and while I preferred them to Barbie (Strangely, tan-and-huge-tits was never my thing) I also thought my ‘Rose Petal Place’ dolls, which are more similar to the revamp, were way prettier. I was always sad that that toy line flopped. So the *look* of the new Strawberry doesn’t actually bug me much.

    (Strawberry was much cuter in the books, imo – see http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-media/product-gallery/0394848233/ref=cm_ciu_pdp_images_all )

    Downplaying desserts in favor of fruit annoys me not so much because of the health message, but because of the lack of BAKING. Strawberry likes to bake and share treats with her friends! Fresh fruit is great, but… Baking! Shared activity! Friendship!

  27. Also, does anyone else remember the Angel Cake (I think) character from the really early strawberry shortcake cartoons, who was always ‘dieting’ except not really, by coming up with ways that the ice cream she was eating ‘didn’t count’? On the one hand it promotes diets, on the other it makes dieters look rather silly. :)

    Sorry, I’m going off on my entire childhood ramble here. Oh yes, another thing – original design Strawberry Shortcake was amusingly gender-ambiguous. Not Strawberry herself, but the Plum Puddin character was a boy in some merchandise and a girl in some other and the ‘Almond Tea’ character, which I had and used as the Prince Charming in most of my doll play as he was the cutest boy I had … was actually a girl, and I didn’t find that out until a few years ago. With those doll bodies, you couldn’t particularly tell the difference, and she came wearing pants!

    Strawberry Shortcake made me gay.

  28. I was looking at pics of these gender-bending characters, and discovered Almond Tea’s pet was:

    Marzi Panda!!!

  29. Well, then, Emmy, just think about how much gayer Strawberry Shortcake will make girls now that she actually makes a sexual statement!

    Or was that not the point you were trying to make?

  30. Oh, this makes me so sad. I never really watched Strawberry Shortcake’s TV show when I was a kid (although it was during my time), but she was always one of my favorite characters. We had so much in common! We both loved strawberries, baked goods, and kitty cats! We both loved fabulous hats! We both liked being girls, but not being “girly”!

    For little girls like me, who weren’t super girly-girls (e.g., into makeup and dress-up), but not tomboys either, Strawberry Shortcake was a godsend.

  31. I’m sure the powers that be were thinking the original Strawberry looks too much like.. a doll! And girls never play with dolls anymore! (Have you noticed how rarely that happens? Animals in clothes, action figures like those terrible Bratz, and Barbie related stuff… but so infrequently just plain dolls.)

    The Care Bears thing makes me crazy. I’m actually 40+ years old, and I’m goofy enough to have Care Bears on my checks because they make paying money less painful. But heaven forbid… it’s like Santa – we can’t give kids the idea that ever being round in the belly is cute! Grrrr!

  32. This is the second Strawberry Shortcake remake in the last 6 years or so. I thought the first remake was bad, but this is wretched!

    I liked Strawberry Shortcake (and Rose Petal Place which is the flower themed one Bellacoker was talking about) as a kid. I had the dolls, the little figures, a tricylcle, clothes…but not once do I ever remember caring much about the look of characters (beyond my favorite colors), or even paying attention to how it was all food themed. I didn’t even watch the tv show!

    I thought they were cute, liked how the smelled, liked their pets, and I played with them using my own stories and imagination. You know, like you’re supposed to play with dolls when you’re a kid.

    When I was older, yeah, my Barbies and other dolls made out and kissed naked and crap like that, but 1) Barbies were sexual dolls in comparison 2) I was still playing with dolls when I hit puberty and 3) those were the only dolls that ever had any sexualization to them in my doll world vision. I wasn’t allowed to even have barbies for a long time because my mom hates them. I didn’t get one until I was nine.

    Which reminds me — I stopped playing with dolls at 11. My mom told me she remembers playing with her dolls until she was 12. I tutor kids ages 7 and up, and I asked some of my girl students around 7-9 what they did for fun, if they liked to play with dolls, and stuff, they laughed at me. Apparently, playing with dolls ‘is for babies’ according to them. They haven’t played with dolls since kindergarten. They prefer to go to volleyball practice, IM their friends, and play on the computer. It’s like these eight year olds aren’t even eight year olds because only ‘babies’ actually play to have fun. Hmm. This concerns me. Anyone else? And now the younger kids who apparently are the only ones who play with toys have to look at fruit themed tramps… Yuck.

    Anyway, the fact that Strawberry Shortcake dolls are no longer playful toys a la fruit themed Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, but just another fashion obsessed Barbie/Bratz wannabe with doe-eyed shaped like little stick thin tweens with a fruit theme slapped on them is gross. There will be no sexed up fruit tarts for little girls in our house. That does not tap into my nostalgia AT ALL.

  33. He talks like kids are an inevitability, you get married and that’s what you do, you have kids, and it’s so awesome or whatever.

    Oh yeah, those marriage certificates automatically stop all your birth control from working. As a serious girl geek (and childfree), all I can say is that marriage and children are orthogonal: you can have both, you can have neither, you can have one or the other. But, you know, make a choice, and make sure you’re ready to do your share of the non-fun stuff (that bit is for your boyfriend).

    On topic, I have to keep explaining to my niece that no, I won’t be getting her any Bratz. Fortunately, I’m far enough away that I can’t hear any complaints about sending her Marguerite Henry books instead.

  34. Aside from the sexualizing of SS, what really bothers me is the consumerism of it all… the article specifically points out that SS spends her time on her cell phone chatting with her friends instead of brushing her cat.

    Right. Because not caring for the pet that you have is just, like, totally the coolest thing evar!

    Though it does make me wonder… Custard (the cat) is pretty much the opposite of fruit-forward. Her name is unabashedly dessert-related, and she herself is big, round and fluffy. Maybe they figured she didn’t deserve to be groomed anymore. Or that, being a chubby kitty, she wouldn’t notice since chubby people aren’t supposed to care about how they look.

  35. I bought the old school Sesame street DVDs for my kids last year, and that’s the only SS that they have ever been exposed to (aside from one goofy little Elmo movie). Granted, we live in England, and I’m doing my best to indoctrinate my children with my own childhood memories of Missouri in the 80s, so take that for what it’s worth. :)

    Anyway. Cookie monster is our favourite. He teaches smart math — remember the skit with Mr Hooper trying to get Cookie to even out the scales with two plates of cookies? Cookie Monster just eats ALL the cookies to make the scales even. Classic! Outside-the-box thinking! Or when Cookie Monster is granted three wishes from a genie, messes all three of them up, and makes the best of a bad situation by eating the truck he got instead of a case of cookies? Again, teaching kids valuable life lessons.

    Ah. I love that blue puppet, I really do.

  36. OH! I almost forgot! For all the Cookie Monster lovers out there (Grover was my favorite but Cookie was a close second), especially those who are also V for Vendetta fans, this YouTube video is really cathartic:

    “People should not be ‘fraid of cookie. Cookie should be ‘fraid of people.”

    XD

  37. Emmy – I loved Rose Petal Place when i was a kid, but I have never found anyone else that ever watched it. I had videos of it, was it ever on TV?

  38. As someone who still cherishes a home video of herself at three years old opening her stocking to find Care Bears toothpaste and then running around the living room holding it up triumphantly and squealing “CARE BEARS! CARE BEARS TOOTHPASTE! LOOK! IT’S CARE BEARS!” I would just like to say:

    The Care Bears are bears. Anthropomorphous bears, yes, but still bears. And, here’s the thing, bears are supposed to be fat. THEY’RE BEARS.

    NO ONE WANTS TO FUCK THE CARE BEARS.

    Mostly unrelated. And disturbing. I suggest skipping.

    I was hanging out with a friend once, and she was on her laptop, and suddenly she burst out laughing. When I asked her what was funny she said, “I just found some Care Bears fanfiction!”

    When I went “?” she said, “It’s totally pornographic. Grumpy Bear is grumpy, so the other Care Bears are working to ‘cheer him up’.”

    Me: “Do you make it a plan to completely vandalize all my childhood memories?”

    /end unrelatedness.

    They messed around with Polly Pocket, too. I saw an ad on TV the other day while watching Spongebob. She used to be a teeny little child-doll, now she’s a fashion forward tweenager

    I KNOW. And she doesn’t even fit in your pocket anymore!!! I used to be able to carry at least three dolls plus a couple different locations with me easy peasy. I mean, the entire fairground fit around my neck in a pretty shell necklace. But more importantly, since when is Polly Pocket a fashion doll? You don’t change her clothes! You take her on adventures! Thats the whole point!

    I still have a couple of my old Polly Pockets. They are so cute.

    I used to work at Toys R Us, and now I work in Day Care. I come across this stuff all the time, I have this mental list of things that bother me that just keeps on growing. At the top of list are the make-overs that override diversity in appearance or bring consumerism and fashion into a place it didn’t belong, dumbing down things that people now don’t think kids can handle (like the old Sesame Street dealt with death in a good, real way, but new TV shows can’t and don’t do that – so condescending), and reinforcing gender roles to extremes (why are all the cooking toys pink and all the science toys blue?).

    I swear IF I ever have kids (big IF) they will watch my Fraggle Rock DVDs and Studio Ghibli movie and that’s about it (I know in the real world I will falter on this, but I like to pretend at least). And they will play with generic toys, like blocks, and read lots of picture books.

    *falls back to sleep from fever, hoping nothing was too incoherent*

  39. I love that C is for Cookie parody. Cookie Monster kicks ass.

    I posted a response about SS on Rachel’s blog, and I said that today’s cartoonmakers and toy manufacturers are too obsessed with the anime and manga style. The next makeover of SS, she’ll be sprouting 50 DD’s and fighting mutant strawberries in a pink G-string.

    Sweet Machine said nobody wants to fuck Care Bears, well I seriously doubt anyone wants to fuck Strawberry Shortcake either. Or the Bratz ponies. http://www.safekidgames.com/images/pony.gif Like we really need tarted up horses.

    I do know guys on the intranets that want to fuck Erin E-surance however. Take that how you want.

  40. I don’t know anyone who would want to fuck The Care Bears or Strawberry Shortcake, but there are guys out there that proudly admit they would fuck Erin E-surance. Of course, with a waist that tiny, she’d probably snap in half during sex.

    I posted a reply about this on Rachel’s blog. I said that today’s toymakers are too obsessed with the anime and manga look. It seems too many female characters are being morphed into the small nose, huge eyes, tiny-waisted look. There’s nothing that makes them unique. I wouldn’t be surprised if SS’s next incarnation has her sprouting 50 DD’s and fighting mutant strawberries in a pink G-string.

    I also highly doubt that she and Cookie Monster would cause kids to raid the house in a sugar frenzy. Because aren’t 99% of the town criers over the “childhood obesity epidemic” convinced that kids were smaller years ago? So why change the eating habits of these two? Makes.no.sense.

  41. I wouldn’t be surprised if SS’s next incarnation has her sprouting 50 DD’s and fighting mutant strawberries in a pink G-string.

    No no no. 50DDs would mean she was fat. More like 26HHs or some such.

  42. I think the character ‘redesign’ that scared me the most in the past was when the Batman animated series merged with the Superman animated series (in which men were about five times as wide as women, to emphasize the strength of Superman or something)

    So Poison Ivy went from this “normal” sized woman, curvy but not at all plump, to this tiny little wasp-waisted goth midget.

    Disturbed me enough that I never could watch that cartoon.

    Apparently in the most recent cartoon, they’ve turned Poison Ivy into a teenage girl??

  43. I’m sure I don’t remember the original female care bears being that bleeding GIRLY before.
    And how in the hell can this “oopsie” bear perform a care bear stare if he has to DRAW HIS OWN BELLY BADGE?!

    Sorry… I think I missed the point a little, but those particular points pissed me off. The 2 girl bears are, when you zoom in, just doing these stupid cutesy poses.

  44. Well, except furries

    Not entirely. The furry fandom is fairly analogous to, say, the Star Wars fandom. People draw and buy art, and make crafts, and read and write fiction, and invent characters and roleplay them online and off, and make costumes to go with those identities, and generally geek out about the whole thing. Some people only do one or two of these things. Some people live a furry-centric lifestyle. (Just like some Star Wars geeks play KOTOR and crab about George Lucas, and some have Jedi personas and practice lightsaber fighting every day.)

    A very small part of the furry fandom is sexualized. The usual term for this area is “yiff.” Most furries aren’t yiffs.

    Unfortunately, the “furries are furverts” portrayal is about the only one that ever appears in the wider culture. And while I’m certainly not offended when every blogger I read doesn’t know the specifics of some geek subculture, I also feel pressed to correct mischaracterizations as they appear (as best I can — I’m not a furry personally, and am pretty ignorant of the intricacies of their extremely complex fandom.)

    So, anyway, back to your comment thread.

  45. I asked my 11 year-old daughter which one she liked better. She chose the one on the right. I asked her why and she told me it was because it had “more anime looking eyes”. Then she proceeded to ask me if it was a new anime show coming out or if it was US knock-off of anime. ‘Cause if it was, she wasn’t going to waste her time.

    She’s picky about her anime and manga. She knows some conversational Japanese and she’s teaching herself Japanese from flashcards. So she’s no “bimbo”.

    FWIW, she’s also an aspie.

  46. of note: those high heeled shoes are ‘crib shoes,’ in that they are meant to be worn by baby girls who can not stand up yet…so they don’t even need shoes, but if you think your baby is a doll baby and like to play dress up, this is just what you need.

  47. Oh, my god, other Emmy. Get out of my head! I was just trying to remember the names of the Rose Petal dolls the other day.

    Have you guys seen what they did to Holly Hobbie? It’s truly sick and wrong. You might remember her as the girl with the big bonnet you’ve seen on quilts in your grandmother’s house? (Also known as Sun Bonnet Sue)

    Totally a tweenie fashionista with a big hat now.

  48. @ SugarLeigh: I just wanted to thank you for posting the “C for Cookie” thing. My husband and I both totally laughed our asses off. “I want the world to know that cookies are only a sometimes thing!” Priceless.

  49. The toys are terrible, yes, but the actual clothing is even worse. The summer my daughter was four, I literally found NO shorts for her that did not have writing on the butt. I don’t love that in teens, but in 4 year olds?! Modest one piece child’s swimsuits apparently don’t exist anymore. Mostly they are two piece bikinis, and some of the little girl’s suits had those faux bra things in them. Shorts are too short, middies are common and lots of the clothes are made to be skin tight.

    I work with crack whores who are trying to heal from mental illness and addiction. I love being a social worker and have all kinds of respect for women who are in that position. That does NOT mean I want 7 year old to dress like them, and it’s hard to find little girl clothes designed for…LITTLE GIRLS!

    I have to be very picky to buy things for her that are age appropriate. Most of what I see seems like a secret code for “calling all child rapists! Here’s a live one!”

    Speaking of rapists: at work, it’s shocking to my peers when I term someone who impregnates his daughter at age twelve a rapist instead of a “molester.” Any adult who performs any sexual act with a child is a rapist . Kids can’t consent, period. And I think that forcing a child to have oral sex with you is just as much a rape as an act that involves penetration. Is it any less wrong?

    Okay, off the soapbox!

    I hate the remodeling of dolls and bears to make them skinnier/more sexualized. And the whole point of Cookie Monster was that he was a fantasy figure who could eat cookies all day long, an idea very appealing to most children but unlikely to transformed them into miniature compulsive cookie inhaler. He was TRANSGRESSIVE and every child who watched Sesame Street knew it. Sometimes children are a whole lot smarter that adults.

  50. Regarding the warning about the classic Sesame Street: I wrote a post about that awhile back, with a linky to an interview with the executive producer:

    http://fashionablenerd.wordpress.com/2008/01/26/saturday-throwback-remember-when/

    I don’t remember how to make the linky pretty. But as consolation, there’s a classic Cookie Monster song on there!

    Also, why are these folks screwing with classic icons? The Care Bears are bears, and should be fat, soft, and cuddly! WTF?! I really do need to save my baby blanket (my mom made me a yellow Care Bears baby blanket by hand. I still have it.) and my actual stuffed bears (yep, still have those too) so folks can remember what CBs REALLY looked like.

  51. Wow. I looked at this on Feministing and was kind of shocked. ‘Cause my b-day is coming up in a few hours and this just smacked me and all the other children of the 80’s right in the face. I remember loving the scent of the Strawberry Shortcake dolls, but thinking that they were quite ugly. But this…um…this is amazingly creepy on so many levels.

    And I’m surprised that people are comparing it to anime. Well, actually, did you know that anime was actually inspired by American animation (Osamu Tezuka created “Astro Boy” among many other series, way back in I think the ’40s to the ’60s; the character designs were inspired by Disney). And as a representative of the anime fandom, I really, really hate how we’re stereotyped as a bunch of middle aged Anglophobic male perverts, ogling bouncing breasts and huge eyes. I’ve read in another blog that furries are susceptible to sexualization, which doesn’t do us any good. There are actually many anime that aren’t the stereotypical pervy, violent, hentai that you hear of, but also some are American cartoon knock-offs (such as “The Big O” and “Super Milk-chan”). Also Sonic the Hedgehog (a very popular Japanese video game character) and his buddies look very much like typical American deformed animals.

    And while we’re on the subject (and back to the original topic), the hypersexualization isn’t just limited to the little girl market, the poor blue hedgehog is a victim as well. If you look up pictures of him, you’ll find that in the early ’90’s in which he was first created, he had the cutest little pot belly. But he could still run. However, about ten years later, when the Sega Dreamcast was released, Sonic has lost quite a bit of weight, grew longer limbs and a puffed out chest, making him…a very hunky hedgehog (excuse me while I fill up this nearby barf bag). But, Sonic was still the world’s fastest hedgehog, even *with* the cute little pot belly.

    I’m sorry that this is tl;dr, but as a child of the ’80’s, I am so very appalled, yet glad that even Hello Kitty hasn’t been bastardized…yet.

  52. “Not entirely. The furry fandom is fairly analogous to, say, the Star Wars fandom. …”

    Thank you Ellie, for saying what I wanted to say but more eloquently!

    I am a furry (by many but not all definitions) and I do not want to fuck the Care Bears, thank you very much.

  53. “DEAR AMERICAN GREETINGS: THEY ARE BEARS. THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE SEXY. NO ONE WANTS TO FUCK THE CARE BEARS.”

    bwa!hahahha!! oh, lordy.

    hopefully, NOBODY WANTS TO FUCK STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, EITHER. good gods. what’s with the way her eyes are set?? isn’t that fetal alcohol syndrome or something? i’m not saying strawberry shortcake could help it if that was her lot in life, but dude. if i was going to fuck some simpering airhead stinking of overripe fruit, alcohol would certainly help.

  54. Because I like to ruin childhoods, the link to the BDSM Care Bears ‘cheer up, Grumpy Bear!’ fic referenced earlier in the fic is here.

  55. Have you guys seen what they did to Holly Hobbie? It’s truly sick and wrong. You might remember her as the girl with the big bonnet you’ve seen on quilts in your grandmother’s house? (Also known as Sun Bonnet Sue)

    Totally a tweenie fashionista with a big hat now.

    That’s it. I’m going to go drown myself now.

    …IN PIE.

  56. The new Holly Hobbie is supposedly (or so I read somewhere) the great-granddaughter of the original Holly Hobbie.

    So, not only have they “modernized” what I remember from my childhood as a wonderful thing (I LIKED the “old-fashioned” aspect), they KILLED the real Holly Hobbie.

    (Or at least put her in a nursing home).

    I don’t know. I hate all this “updating” where the characters that – at one time – lived in sort of a fantasy world that was different from our own, now have to be Just Like Us (or just like what the advertisers think the kids should aspire to be) with cell phones and laptops and who knows what. The Strawberry Shortcake I remember (I was just a bit old for her already when she came out, but I still liked the concept) lived in a house that was a big CAKE. I suspect the new one lives in a boring suburb with a big-screen tv. Yawn.

    I just hope that that trend – of making what was different and fanciful kind of boring in the name of “lets promote electronics and fashion to small children” doesn’t also serve to erode their imaginations even more.

  57. My family was extremely tech-advanced. I was the only kid with a computer in her bedroom at a very young age, and growing up I was usually the one the teachers turned to to fix the school computers. I tend to bristle at statements that suggest that giving kids computers will automatically destroy their imaginations – the two things I used the computer most for at that age were playing games and WRITING STORIES. :)

    On the other hand, it’s creepy if suddenly EVERY doll has to promote cellphones and laptops. They say it makes the doll feel more modern to a kid? When I was a kid, with my phone and my record player and my computer, I also read Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. And it literally /never occurred to me/ when I was reading those books as a kid that they didn’t seem to watch television. What did it matter? They were busy SOLVING MYSTERIES! My fuzzy little kid brain could just assume the television was in the background and not very important. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realised how old those books were and that there was a reason tech never came up! :)

  58. You know, when Penny Arcade did this to Strawberry Shortcake, they got sued.

    As for the old-school Sonic, I have the DVD set of Sonic SatAM, and a couple Sonic X dvds and newer Sonic games, and I read the comics. If you watched SatAM, you might remember Bunnie RabBot, the rabbit chick with the robotic legs and arm (because she was rescued from the Roboticiser). She was stronger than any of the men and (get this) she was fat. She wore a skintight leotard that didn’t hide her large breasts, big butt, and curvy tummy. At her (finally) wedding to Antione in the comics this year (or last year? I’ll need to pull up that issue), she looked like a stick figure with two bowling balls. Not the Bunnie I remember.

    And Robotnik! Remember him? His belly wasn’t fat, it was full of PURE EVIL! Strong, round middle, fleshy thighs that you could imagine were pure muscle underneath the fat- Jim Cummings did the voice, and it was so perfectly evil… *sigh* I think I’m in love. Now, Eggman, ugh.

    Not to mention that Sonic and Tails were both cute and pudgy! And even Rouge was fatter when she was introduced.

    (I know, waxing poetic about Sonic the Hedgehog. I’m what’s wrong with the internet.)

  59. I never had any trouble finding age-appropriate clothes for my daughter (now 11) until she outgrew children’s sizes and had to shop in the teen department (within the last year or so). However, I have noticed that the cheaper the store, the more prevalent the trashy/sexy clothes in the girls’ department. And, IME, it’s more common in certain minority groups. That makes me wonder how much this trend breaks across cultural and/or socio-economic lines.

  60. Oh no, not Hello Kitty! She and I have the same date of birth :). I have waaaaay too much Hello Kitty stuff for an adult :).

  61. I was never a huge fan of these characters (other than Sesame Street and I would add I’ve never had the urge to binge on a box of cookies OR live in a garbage pail OR be part of an ambiguously gay duo who takes baths together). But if they ever try to mess with my Paddington Bear and his marmalade pooch–it is ON.

    For young girl role models I suggest Pippi Longstocking. While the books have some racism that needs to be explained to kids she generally is the champion of all being different, not conforming, and thinking for yourself.

  62. Come to think of it, now I’m worried about someone taking a hatchet to A. A. Milne’s characters. Imagine with dread. I just know they’d screw up Eeyore because heaven forbid we expose our children to pessimistic and/or depressed people! They might get the idea that human diversity was natural!

  63. Emmy,

    Hollie Hobbie is the name of the illustrator, not the character. She draws all different kinds of children, but that’s her biggest ‘hit’.

  64. Gah! The Care Bears? The whole point was aiming their round tummies at things!

    I thought the Penny Arcade Strawberry Shortcake was excellent. They were making EXACTLY this political statement and should have fought to keep the image available.

  65. Awww, man. When I was three or four, I loved Strawberry Shortcake and my grandmother sewed me a mob cap and embroidered a strawberry on it so I could be her for Hallowe’en. It sat so nicely atop my little red-blonde curls at the time.

  66. Godless Heathen, the Winnie the Pooh characters have already been hatchetted up to nothingnes SOOOO many times, it’s depressing.




    Seriously, the latest eeyore looks STONED, not mopey. He no longer looks like someone I want to cuddle to make it all better.

  67. When I first saw the “updated” character picture, my first thought wasn’t how much thinner she was, but how much more sexualized she was.

    My thoughts exactly. I remain relieved that my husband’s nieces never did the whole Bratz thing.

    I just know they’d screw up Eeyore because heaven forbid we expose our children to pessimistic and/or depressed people! They might get the idea that human diversity was natural!

    Hubby has noticed this. He’s a big fan of Eeyore for the simple reason that that character does remind him of himself, a little. He loves the real old-fashioned toys which are based on the Shepard illustrations, but they’re getting harder to find. But he often finds that even in the Disneyfied versions, where there are toys or whatever with the different characters, you will get Pooh, Tigger, Piglet…but not Eeyore. Guess he’s not happy-smiley enough.

    Now, I just dread anyone doing anything with the British Firmin/Postgate animations from the 70s. The new-style CGI Bill and Ben were bad enough, but if some new-fangled animator type lays hands on Bagpuss and tries to turn Emily into Edwardian totty, there’s a lot of people of my generation who will happily kill them.

  68. Why is it every time in a generation we “update” any of our social/media icons into something we consider too “risque” for children the older generation is in an uproar.

    In my opinion the United States is too prude.

    On the other hand the prudish culture generates extreme sex symbolism in the media due to shock value. E.G. would any other obscenely rich girl like to make a porn video and then a T.V. show right after?

    In countries where sex isn’t as big of a deal, the symbols are more… tame, and kids can see any part of the body they want without it being a huge deal as well.

    The secret is in the parenting, not the size 4 Sweet Valley High waistlines.

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