Listening to: Bruce Springsteen The Rising (the whole Album, not just the song)
Watching: tgwtg.com videos
Playing: Angry Birds
Drinking: Black Tea
Being a child's pop culture icon- be it a cartoon character, Disney channel star, or toy- is like an endless hike through a field of land mines, especially if the character is meant to appeal to little girls. Parents are generally worried equally about either gender of their children being exposed to too much sex, violence, drug use, bad language, or other aspects of grown-up TV scarring their fragile little minds or giving them bad ideas. But when it comes to TV, toys, or anything else marketed to children, parents seem to be far more concerned about what impressions are left on their daughters. Boy's toys bring up their own concern, as they can all be perceived as containing some form of violence. Don't get me wrong, little girls won't shy away from these toys and they and they all exhibit a violent streak at some point in their life. But since boys are naturally more aggressive due to producing more testosterone, toy companies create action heroes, helicopters, soldiers, toy guns, Transformers, and "Hulk Hands" as these items will make a pretty profit. While parents may be worried about their sons learning that violence is cool, their fears are mostly irrational. Pretend war games are a way for children and adults alike to get adrenaline pumping. But even children are very much aware of the differences between shooting someone with a nerd gun and shooting someone with a real gun- death in real life is permanent. Whenever a young man goes on a killing spree, it wasn't because TV and toys told him as a small boy that killing things is cool; it was because he was an untreated sociopath. Furthermore encouraging children to play war games may prepare them to take on the role of real soldiers, something that society will always have a need for, whether we like it or not.
Each girl toy however, must meet a certain amount of criteria put forth by every mother. She can't have ridiculously good looks, she can't be a mall rat, if she's a talking doll she can't say anything sexist like ""Math is Hard, she can't be dressed too sexily, she can't be pregnant, she can't be too pink, she can't be boy-crazy, and she can't in anyway suggest that the only life paths available to a girl are: perfect girlfriend/wife, shopaholic, beauty queen, mother, or homemaker. This is a difficult set of expectations to meet, but their are in fact several toys and tv shows that pass the test. American Girl dolls each have their own personality, background, skills, and ambitions. They also teach girls about diversity and American History. They are however, impossibly expensive ($100). As for TV characters, there's the cast of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. As far as characters in kid's shows go, they're very well-rounded. All six main characters are female, they each have their own admirable character traits and faults. The conflicts they deal with are actual conflicts that range from owning up to their own faults- such as arrogance, rudeness, cowardice, or even bigotry-to saving the world. Even the more "girly" ponies are still great role models for girls. The timid pony is a gentle, caring soul who learns to overcome many of her fears; the pinkest pony( and the biggest partier of the bunch), is probably the most fearless, and even the snobby beauty-obsessed pony is not only a frequent adventurer who has faced dragons and sea serpents without batting an eye, but is also far more focused on her career as a fashion designer than she is with finding a man(or stallion). These characters are so dynamic in fact, that most of their fans are actually adult men.
I may have to address the other concerns with girl toys at some point in my life. But since I am no longer an impressionable young girl, nor am I the mother of one, I'm only going to focus on the beauty aspect. In much of the West, no parent wants their daughter to feel limited in the choices she can make regarding her life. But the idea that as a girl, you simply MUST have the perfect body is by far the most dangerous, because it has actually indirectly killed young girls. Obviously, many teenage fashion magazine are trying to help a girl feel accepted by teaching how to dress in-style, and Mattel probably won't change their molds anytime soon, because Mega-Tits Aryan Barbie is what sells. Each of these own factors itself isn't all that harmful. But all together the impossibly proportioned dolls, the gorgeous models gracing the covers of fashion magazines, the locker room showers, the cruelty of teenage girls,cyberbullying, the mothers worried that their daughters' appearances reflect their success as parents, and the judgmental nature of the female gender make for one nightmarish combination. Every once in a while, there is a glimmer of hope, but that too is quickly destroyed. A beautiful, talented, intelligent actress named Jennifer Lawrence does an incredible job portraying the fierce, well-written action heroine of the Hunger Games, and the only thing on many people's minds is that she was "too fat" to play the role. Then there's Adele, not only one of the most powerful singers of all time, but one of the greatest gifts that the UK has bestowed upon the rest of the world. Not only does she have a beautiful voice, but she also has clear, soft skin, lovely auburn hair, and most gorgeous pair of green eyes I've ever seen. Definitely beautiful. She's riding a high note now- she's engaged, she's been chosen to perform the theme for the most recent Bond film, and she's just had a baby. And yet, people won't stop making rude comments for no damn reason. Taking all that into consideration, the following statistics are really no surprise:
-8 million Americans have an eating disorder – 7 million women and one million men
-1 in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
-2 to 3 in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
-Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
-The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old. In other words, if you are a girl between these ages, statistically speaking, anorexia is most likely going to kill you.
-Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment.
-Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents
-95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25
-95% to 98% of people with bulimia tend to be female.
-50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight
-But 64% of bulimia sufferers are near a normal weight range.
-84% of bulimics have some form of College Education (intelligence doesn't matter)
-80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight
-Conservative figures show that 150,000 women die each year from dieting related causes
As you can see, eating disorders are a very major concern. Parents' concerns over girls toys are far more understandable than the concern of boy's toys. Violence, as terrible as it is, is unfortunately occasionally necessary. Eating disorders and depression, however, help no one. Unfortunately, the issue of the amount of unhealthy body images that girls are exposed to comes from many different sources, and is therefore a tricky situation to sort out. Among other things, it would require girls to give up things that they might enjoy, such as dolls or magazines, for their own mental and physical wellbeing. On a positive note, girls won't be affected by things that they don't expose themselves to. How can they avoid the very thing that I've just stated is impossible to avoid? Well, it's very easy if the sight of that thing causes you to flee in terror.
This is where Minnie Mouse comes in. Minnie was never a big part of my childhood, but looking at classic Minnie, we see a good example of what a cartoon character should look like:
Big eyes, large round head and ears, lovable face, generally good proportions, cute little outfit with lots of little bows. Also, she still has a tail.
This is the controversial "Skinny Minnie" that supposed to be featured as part of a short film in an upcoming holiday display:
WTF WAS THAT?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!!?
Minnie's pencil-thin form ins't the only problem her. Her change from a childish but harmlessly asexual polka-dot dress to this horrible stripper get-up immediately loses the child audience. Not too mention, that dress would look horrendous on the even the sexiest woman. Also, she's a bit too anthropomorphic. Not only does she not have a tail, but she actually has human collarbones. Mice are quadrupeds, therefore their collarbones are formed differently. Human arms on cartoon animals don't bother me, but when human-shaped bones are clearly visible under their skin, it freaks me the fuck out. But the scariest part of her body has to be her height. Cartoon characters tend to be short for a good damn reason. Kids are short themselves, therefore they are comforted by short characters. Grown ups are taller than them and pretty scary, therefore tall=scary.
I can't even classify this as Uncanny Valley Animation. It's just...clusterfuck.
In conclusion, while body image remains to be a major problem among young girls, I am 100% sure that Skinny Minnie won't attribute to it. Because no little girl would EVER want to look AT her again, let alone look anything like her.
Done ranting now. Going to wash my eyes out with bleach.