Wondering how to broach the subjects "plucking and shaving" with your six-year-old daughter? Well, the toy company Mattel has helpfully put a doll on the market to kick-start that all-important conversation. Toothpick thin and leggy (naturally), clad in the shortest of minis and showing off her belly button, she's called Clawdeen Wolf - the latest extreme Barbie.
She boasts of being "a fierce fashionista with a confident no-nonsense attitude." Good news: In addition to being "gorgeous," she's also loyal to her friends.
We're not clear how she has any time for them, however, since all the plucking and shaving required to look good is "a full-time job." Faced with such a "freaky flaw," how does Clawdeen carry on?
More than a few parents would rather she was simply carried off - certainly off the shelves of toy stores where she is clearly marketed to little girls. Clawdeen has prompted yet another debate about whether she is just a toy (and hence everyone should relax) or another example of how marketing is further eroding female self-esteem before girls even hit puberty.
Sadly, Clawdeen is not going anywhere - except into shopping carts. A Toys 'R' Us spokesperson in the U.S. says Clawdeen is the "most popular fashion doll we have today."
Mattel has, naturally, defended the doll, saying she is "all about celebrating your imperfections and accepting the imperfections of others." (And then, apparently, obsessing about them all the time.) In the Monster High collection, a company spokesperson explained that Clawdeen "has to shave and pluck between classes,"and that "girls of a certain age know about the embarrassment of unwanted hair in unwanted places."
Girls "of a certain age" being the key phrase there - since presumably these concerns aren't plaguing the preteens who will actually be posing Clawdeen and her friends in their bedroom. (If you can get past the hot pants, at least her BFF, Lagoona Blue, cares about the ocean being used as a "trashcan" and aspires to be an oceanographer.)
As psychologist Dale Atkins told The Today Show , "When we have these ridiculous models - sexualized children, and horses with long eyelashes that are flirtatious and all of that - it sets up this ideal of beauty and body image that kids have to pay attention to because they can't not pay attention to it."
Clawdeen joins a growing line of dolls and toys - with flirting looks and skimpy clothes - marketed to young girls. (Even Tinker Bell and friends have been vamped up.)
But, at least, Clawdeen is focused on some worthwhile pursuits while looking "gorgeous."
Her favourite activities: "shopping and flirting with boys."
Where do you stand? Is this just a toy, and everyone should lighten up? Or does she send the wrong message to your daughters?