I avoided Monster High for a long time.
My daughter has been clamoring for the dolls since she was in preschool, thanks to the row upon row of eye-grabbing black boxes in the Target toy aisle. Year after year I convinced her the toys were too scary and not made for her age, and that we’d talk again about it later. I first wanted to chat with her about how different body types are beautiful, how to dress and wear makeup when you’re not a big-headed stick figure, and about realistic role models.
And then Netflix added 234 Monster High movies to the streaming line-up.
Again I insisted she wait, until my entirely-too-logical six-year-old pointed out, “They look just like Equestria Girls, and you let me watch that.”
And so I lost an argument to a kindergartener.
I realized that she had a point, and I agreed to let her give one movie a try as long as I watched it with her.
Monster High has an interesting and admirable concept at its core, and it’s not one that I’m completely against my daughter seeing. “Monster High students are encouraged to be themselves—imperfections and all—and celebrate their freaky flaws,” touts the official toy web site.
But what imperfections are we talking about? While watching the movie, I noticed that all girls that attend the school have the same body types and features: large heads with big eyes and pouty lips, stick-figure arms, and legs with calves that are wider than their thighs. (The boys also have identical muscular builds.) Presumably their feet are only big to show off their fabulous shoes. Or is it “fangbulous”? Whichever.
But to be fair, the movies do build upon the tried-and-true themes of “it’s okay to be different” and the value of friendship, so the Monster High movies finally won approval in our house. (Sorry, dolls, but you’re staying at the store.) And we finally had that chat. But I’d be so much more comfortable with scenes showing girls of a variety of body types also being accepted for who they are.
“So,” you might be asking yourself, “What about Equestria Girls? Why is that not an issue?”
It took me a while to realize the difference, but I finally did. Because it’s based on the premise of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, in my mind Equestria Girls and My Little Pony were the same thing. I never worried about body types with My Little Pony, because duh, they’re ponies, and that instinctively carried over to Equestria Girls. There’s also no talk of boyfriends or outfits or looking “gore-geous,” so I never had any qualms with the ponies’ human counterparts, but now that I see there are some short-skirted similarities… I’m keeping an eye on you, Equestria Girls.
Are your kids Monster High or Equestria Girls fans? Did you have any reservations about it?
Special thanks to Jessica Boyd for inspiring this train of thought.