Mommylibrium tried to do some early Christmas shopping this week by picking up the classic Candyland board game for our boys. She stopped as soon as she read some of the comments at Amazon.com from her fellow parents.
Turns out the game got a makeover three years ago. The new version is in line with the facelifts, or tummy tucks, given to many favorite kiddie products.
Children’s toymakers are obsessed with making girls thinner, pretty and sexier than in the past. That means Candyland’s Princess Lolly and Queen Frostine suddenly have va-va-voom curves and come-hither stares.
Candyland isn’t the only toy to experience this sexual boost. Strawberry Shortcake is now older, more slender and without the chubby cheeks that marked the iconic character. The same goes for Rainbow Brite and even those Troll dolls. Even Disney is changing the face – and figure – of its famed princess to go with this adult mindset.
I first noticed the issue when I spotted a Bratz doll at the local toy store several years ago, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. They just struck me as creepy. I wasn’t a parent yet and hadn’t read about studies showing the impact such sexualized images have on children.
Marketers push strong, bulky action figures, swords and guns for boys, while girls have more Barbie dolls and princess gear to choose from than ever before. Even My Little Pony has become highly stylized, with heavy makeup and high heels.
So should parents take a stand and boycott Candyland this Christmas at a time when it will hurt the toy company behind the game (Hasbro) the most?
Boycotts, in general, make me uneasy. There’s something aggressive about the policy that means it shouldn’t be considered lightly. A better reaction would be to reach out to the respective companies and let your voice be heard. Share your complaints. Describe why you’re concerned. And, best of all, mention you’ll be sharing your thoughts on social media for others to see and discuss.
We’ve already seen that companies will react to consumer complaints when given the chance. Consider how Huggies ditched its ad campaign mocking fathers as inept caregivers when a group of daddy bloggers rallied to the cause. The bloggers didn’t demand a boycott. They asked, nicely but firmly, for the company to change its ways. And Huggies did.
Fathers have a collective voice, and if we only complain to each other it won’t be heard, nor will it potentially make a difference. Our kids are worth it.