I am torn. My seven-year-old, Gwendolyn, is crazy about Monster High dolls and the Monster High website. On the first night of Hanukkah, you should have heard the screech of joy out of her when she received a Draculaura doll.
So what is Monster High? It’s a line of dolls, a cartoon, and related products (books, movies, makeup, clothes, you name it). The dolls are like Barbie dolls that can be dressed up. Only these dolls are monsters—zombies, vampires, and so forth—so they’re sort of a cross between Barbie and fantasy characters.
There’s an awful lot a feminist could say about Monster High (for more, check out this Monster High analysis by the fabulous Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter). The most simple reason these characters are disturbing is that their story line revolves largely around clothing and appearance. While the story does include positive messages about being a good friend and being yourself, they’re ultimately dress-up dolls, just like Barbie. I tell my daughter over and over again that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” but am I contradicting myself when I let her dress up these dolls?