Cross-posted at Ms.
Previously we’ve posted on the sexy makeovers recently given to Dora the Explorer, Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobby, Lisa Frank, Trolls, Cabbage Patch Kids, and the Sun Maid. Here we have three more.
My Little Pony
The original My Little Pony, chubby and adorable (source):
Today they’re thinner, with an open mouth, more provocative stances, and more responsive positions (source):
Vintage Rainbow Brite:
Rainbow Brite today:
Finally, Monika alerted us to the new look for Candy Land. First, vintage Candy Land.
From the website of Candy Land today:Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Rachel @ Last Res0rt — December 7, 2010
I hate the current gen MLP's. the ones right before were just fine (and true to form), but these are too deformed for me.
K. E. — December 7, 2010
Not sure how one would categorise a pony's stance as provocative, but the stances don't look much different than those I am familiar with from the late '80s. The tiny body, however, is something I do not get.
T — December 7, 2010
"more provocative stances, and more responsive positions" Seriously, what does that mean?!
The "sexy" My Little Pony has the EXACT same stance and position as the vintage Rainbow Bright cartoon *immediately* below. To me the newer design of the My Little Pony actually suggests that the horse runs and jumps and is active... unlike the older version which looks like a depressed lump that doesn't move (i.e., it's only for brushing and looking at, not playing).
j — December 7, 2010
i like this blog, but this is a "mountains out of molehills" post.
Andie — December 7, 2010
Why do all the new toys look like Lisa Frank went on a flavored-schnapps bender and vomited everywhere?
Rajio — December 7, 2010
LoL @ the ponys. You guys surely can't be serious. If anything the newer ones are infantilized with larger heads and eyes. Slow news day, eh?
corinnemic — December 7, 2010
I agree. The old ponies look downcast and submissive. The new ponies look energetic if "stylized." Rainbow Brite is dressed exactly the same way she was in the original, they just aged her a bit. As for Candyland, it's a new property. They added characters and got modern graphic artists to redraw the board in accordance with modern tastes. They also expanded the back story and so had to make each character more distinct.
Tom M. — December 7, 2010
Of all the problems in the world, this one is unlikely to keep me up at night.
Illustration styles change. Today, it is very Japanese influenced.
The "children" may look more adult, but I don't see much sexualization here. More glamourization, perhaps. Interesting to see the progression, I guess.
lora — December 7, 2010
Wwll, I guess I'll disagree and say that I do find the makeovers disturbing. It's the same old skinny-giant-eyes-long-lashes-come-hither look, and it's vaguely pornish to me. Princess Frostine is particularly creepy to me.
OW — December 7, 2010
I was thinking about what seems to be the Japanese influence in these toys.
I'm torn on the MLP. I LOVED these toys when I was young...probably the "girliest" toy I played with...besides the Cabbage Patch housecleaning kit, I suppose. :) I wasn't a fan of dolls, but I just adored the MLP. I appreciate the more accurate horseness of the older ones (I also ride and love horses in general). The newer ones probably wouldn't have appealed to me because they seem a bit too anthropomorphized for my taste. They remind me more of people and not horses.
Torn on Rainbow Brite, too. The older one is cute a chubbier, but also looks younger. RB didn't appeal to me as a kid, but the teen-looking RB might have simply because she does seem older and more aspirational.
Dragonclaws — December 7, 2010
I agree with the above comments that everything's more stylized than sexualized. Also, the 2005 Candy Land has what looks like a black kid and an Asian kid where previously it was just two white kids. I'd say that's an improvement.
Niki — December 7, 2010
This one's a pretty big stretch, methinks. Rainbow Brite I can see where you're coming from - she was a youthful, chubby little girl and now seems to be a pretty teenager. She's lost her baby fat. But is she really sexy? I'm not so sure. I think what you're calling "sexualizing" is what I would call "sophisticating" her, if I'm allowed to make up words, or aging her; you could say there's a problem there, that little girls want to grow up too fast. And I also see her weight loss as kind of problematic. Not because she appears too thin, but because perhaps there should be at least SOME remaining fat girls for little kids to look up to, right?
But the ponies? Come on. I like the new ones, like others have already said they look more active and playful than their predecessors. And Candy Land just seems to be playing up the fantasy thing more.
I don't deny that the early sexualization of little kids is an issue, and a quickly growing one. But if this post is making any comment on that, it's that the problem is so prevalent our alarms are over-piqued and we're less able to clearly define what's acceptable than we used to be; and that is frightening on a whole new level. These lines shouldn't be so blurred.
June — December 7, 2010
Is Princess Frostine wearing FISHNETS!?!
Rabbit — December 7, 2010
When did Queen Frostine get demoted to princess? :(
Tobyfish — December 7, 2010
I think Rainbow Brite's skirt might have actually gotten longer. The pose in the older picture makes it hard to tell.
maevele — December 7, 2010
Regarding the ponies, the newest MLP toys are based on the new show, which is much more action and humor oriented than one would expect from the ponies. The people behind Powerpuff Girls and Foster's are making it, and you can see both of those influences. So I assume the newer toy designs are less about sexualizing the ponies and more about actioning them up.
Although I do think the general theme here is right, and the character toys are all being heavily influenced by Bratz in particular.
Syd — December 7, 2010
I see the point of the Candyland bit. But the rest? That isn't sexualization, that's kids who grew up in the 80s crying and stomping their feet screaming 'they changed it now it SUUUUUCKS!' There is no way that someone can say 'this pony is exactly the same as it used to be, with it's mouth open [btw, it's not simply 'open,' it's clearly SMILING] it's sexual' and actually be serious.
Laya — December 7, 2010
The newer Rainbow Brite definitely disturbs my inner 5-year-old, who loved her Rainbow Brite canopy bed. I think the biggest disappointment is that by decreasing the number of characters (from 8 "Color Kids" to 3 "Sky Powers"), they've also reduced the overall diversity of the cast, so to speak. Indigo wasn’t a major part of the series, but she was my favorite at age 5 in part because she looked like me.
Kids today have a lot more choices in what they watch, and in general the shows are much more diverse than they were in the early 80’s. But I still morn the loss of Indigo, and the other color kids, in favor of these tween-pop-star-like Sky Powers.
(Also, both 5-year-old me and adult me get really tired of anything girl-related having to include the color pink.)
missdisco — December 7, 2010
However you look at it, My Little Pony is rubbish.
Everyone knows the Jem Dolls were FTMFW
Kristyn — December 7, 2010
You've missed a stop in the evolution of My Little Pony... my sister had a toy one around 1998 or so that was somewhere in the middle of those two. It was thinner and had a more active pose than the original ones.
Gab — December 7, 2010
Agree with them all except my little pony. Seriously, a slimmer, more provocative, responsive, pony? That's drawing a looooong bow. It's a horse! Maybe I'm just not getting it since bestiality is not my thing.
SW — December 8, 2010
I agree that the pony thing is a bit of a stretch, because the latter example is actually the most short-lived of the multiple looks of MLP. And as of the former, there are only eight different of those. There's a world of difference between these two, ranging from chubbier to thinner and in different poses. MLP is currently at its 4th generation, with distinctive looks between each, and variance within a generation.
It's a pet peeve of mine to see MLP used as an example of horribly degenerating children's characters, because the examples tend to be wildly out of context to suit the particular article's needs. I've always thought that there are much easier ways to showcase the sexualization of children.
Sebastian — December 8, 2010
Despite the way the new MLP *toys* look, the new *cartoon* is actually really lovely and positive, so I'm not worried.
I am, however, disappointed that Rainbow Brite is suddenly older, that Strawberry Shortcake no longer wears sensible jeans and is chubby, and that Candy Land is not the same beautiful art that I knew as a kid in the 90s. D: I miss when being a little girl (I was raised a girl, being that I'm ftm trans) was about pretend and overcoming things through the power of friendship, love or whatever. What happened, I ask, to the actual stories? I don't care about the morality of everything, I care about the severe lack of imagination.
Sebastian — December 8, 2010
Also, I miss old Lisa Frank. I was looking forward to getting Lisa Frank school supplies (omg trapper keepers with UNICORNS! :D) for when I went to college, and when I looked them up, expecting Markie the unicorn et al, I was shocked to see there were NO UNICORNS. No unicorns, no puppies, no kittens, no dolphins, no ballerina bunnies, no ANYTHING. I think that's the only time I've ever, in all seriousness, screamed out, 'MY CHILDHOOD! D8'
katerina — December 9, 2010
I'm not really sure what to think. Back in my day! little girls played with plastic realistic looking horses, and the invention of My Little Pony in general was kind of a step back. They were pink and purple and you could brush their hair. But then again, if you had a real horsey, a lot of the fascination for someone without a horse of their own, would probably be to brush it a lot. A lot of the update on this is, as said above, "they changed it, now it sucks."
As for Rainbow Brite.. part of me wants to say, she just looks more like a person than a doll in the cartoons. In the cartoon world, and the toys, there are figures of things like Barbie and comic book heroes like She-Ra that sort of resemble a real person (I know they are distorted too), and then they made these big-head, rather UNrealistic looking people. Nobody looks like that. The drama here is that she kind of has a waist, and for the part of her leg that's showing, her legs are longer and the knees are more realistically shadowed, so they kind of look a little sexier... kind of a lot sexier than the unsexy little chubby one. Her knees show, but they are not defined to really look like knees with a little bit of thigh showing. They seem to be taller than their target audience as well, so a little on the mature side. I imagine the similar is true with Strawberry Shortcake is Dora, but I'm not looking them up. I'm not trying to be a perve, and I know those legs and thighs may be typical to how a little girl would dress, I'm not sure what modesty would prove either because they're innocent little girls (cartoons) and I'm sexualizing them just because I can see part of their thighs (and they're cartoons). Where does that idea come from?
As for the Candy Land. I found the drawings to be kind of horrible. I don't remember any of these characters from my childhood, but Princess Frostine is horrible, Princess Lolly looks more like the old Rainbow Brite, except her body is skinny, and both the princesses are wearing strapless gowns. What's keeping them up? It's just more drama than I need out of a simple children's game. Sort of takes a lot away from the color-matching age-range I thought that game was for, now it's a complete fairy tale with "back-stories." Does a 3-6 year old child need back-stories to play a game now, FFS? It also has the hazard of making it off-limits to some parents of boys because it is now so heavy on the princesses, although it might help awaken his normative heterosexuality so the other kids won't call him a "fag" when he starts kindergarten. They have turned that one into complete crap now.
Adrienne — December 11, 2010
Also, the Hasbro website for Candyland (http://www.hasbro.com/games/en_US/candyland/) uses different characters to illustrate different parts of the site according to their traditional gender roles:
SHOP has "Princess Frostine"
PLAY has "Princess Lolly"
DISCOVER has "Duke of Swirl"
Kasa — December 13, 2010
The MLP are just standard issue upping the cuteness factor (oversized feet, eyes and head) while also cutting down the demure, inferiority stance in favor of a more outgoing happy pony. This redesign make sense.
As for Candy Land - what was wrong with 2005? Isn't this a game marketed to kids so young that the only necessary skill is learning your colors? THEY DON'T CARE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. Oh but cut down on the bright colors, cause that makes sense...
Julie — January 25, 2011
Wow, someone has to much time on their hands calling these new inventions of older things "sexy". In a competing business world, things have to stay up in competition in order to sell. These are not sexy, just different. Pay more attention to the push-up bras sold to little girls instead of the old 'training bra'. THATS where the attention needs to be focased at. Not only do they make push-up and wired-under bras, but they sell 'bikini underwear for our LITTLE GIRLS. And this is at Walmart. My daughter is five and likes the little girl bras becasue they are like mommies, and have pretty colors. Now THAT is something turning sexy that shouldnt be.
Sheila — March 9, 2011
Yeah, why worry about this kind of thing in toys? I mean, that's what they have in Japan, and everything there is fine, right?
Oh, wait.... nevermind.
lol for real though, I think the thing with the MLP is more that it's sinfully ugly than over-sexual. And I suppose the thinness and disproportionate features might be a bit worrisome, but only because it's in conjunction with every other girl's toy having the same features.
Candyland, though, that's another story. Especially princess Frostine. Fishnets, "come hither" look, being demoted from queen... seriously, all the focus on being a princess is a bit disturbing. No joke, I even met one child who *literally* thought she was a princess, and wouldn't wear anything that wasn't pink or purple. It was horrifying.
The new Rainbow Brites aren't over-sexual either... but it is sad to see all the imagination, diversity (as in not having everyone being stupidly thin supermodels), and childishness taken out of children's toys. When I was a kid, toys were what they were, and they were all pretty, and you made them pretty. Now they make them pretty for you, and "pretty" means that everyone looks like a supermodel. It's really sad, I think.
The King’s highway | Two colours in my head — November 21, 2011
[...] read “a bit creepy”. See also the way My Little Pony has been given a sexy toy makeover in recent years (though still not quite as bad as Struts, which thankfully seem to have died a [...]
Some Chick — January 2, 2012
What the hell do you peoople mean by "responsive" stances? That they look like.. they are moving? How is that sexual? Are you guys bronies or something?
Like, I want a pony that looks like its majestically running through a world of magic and wonder. I do not want dopey g1 pretty ponies that shyly derp at me with their sideways glances. This is basic horse toy logic.
Beauty and the New LEGO Line for Girls : Ms Magazine Blog — January 17, 2012
[...] the Explorer, Strawberry Shortcake and Holly Hobbie, Lisa Frank, Trolls and Cabbage Patch Kids, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, and Candy Land (or visit Sociological Images’ Pinterest collection of Sexy Toy [...]
Madelinsiedler — March 19, 2012
Vis à vis the My Little Pony comparison: the confidence, daring and friendly, warm gesture conveyed by the revamped MLPs is "sexy" while the blushing, subservient, "wilting flower" of the original is "adorable?" Let's think about this again in terms of society's tendency to view strong, confident, assertive females as "sluts" - yes, I'm looking at you, Rush.
Let's not get carried away and wish for the "good ol' days" when women knew their place and wore skirts the long enough to prove it.
Lyddie — May 18, 2012
That isn't the only My Little Pony. I never had the first one, I had the slim ones of the 90's where you'd get other kids changing the song to "My Little Pony all Skinny and Bony"
SalarymaninSeoul — January 19, 2014
A sociologist from Occidental college. That's two strikes to begin with, right there. At this point all we want to know from anyone from Occidental is under what name Obama studied there.