Freakish is the new fabulous

By: Nicole Daughhetee
I grew up with Barbie, and I feel certain that I played with those dolls, in secret of course, long after most of my friends had packed theirs up and given them away. Over the years Barbie has met with some hostility, particularly from feminist voices decrying her unnatural, unrealistic body shape and the damaging results her plastic perfection has on the self-esteem of budding young girls.
Barbie did not have any negative effect on my self-esteem whatsoever. Truth be told, it was the Josh-Joel-Jonny trio calling me fat and ugly every day of junior high that left permanent cataracts that blur my sense of self perception.
I can’t recall giving much thought to Barbie’s body until I was an adult and my daughters half-heartedly played with her and her friends. Even then, I wasn’t as much bothered by her amazingly proportioned waist and hip measurements as I was envious of the fact that after 50 years, gravity hadn’t managed to draw her bosom in a southerly direction.
Even if I did have a problem with Barbie, my daughters don’t like her and have no interest in playing with Barbie dolls, so problem solved.
Monster High dolls reign supreme in our house, and they have been known to devour a Barbie or two under a full moon.
Mattel, the very same toy company that has been producing Barbie since 1959, developed the antithesis to Barbie with its Monster High product line, and both my daughters and I are enormous fans.
What I like about the Monster High dolls is that they are different. And they aren’t just different, they are freakishly fabulous. It is their freakishness that hits home an incredibly important message for young girls: that it is OK to be different — that beauty comes in many forms and it is the unique things about each and every one of us that makes us beautifully amazing.
Ella’s two favorite dolls are Ghoulia Yelps (daughter of the Zombies) and Frankie Stein (daughter of, you guessed it, Frankenstein). Instead of having flawlessly tanned skin, each of these dolls is blue. Ghoulia has blue hair and wears glasses; Frankie has black and white hair and suture marks on her face and other parts of her plastic body.
Emerson’s two favorite dolls are Clawdeen Wolf (daughter of the Werewolf) and Operetta (daughter of The Phantom of the Opera). Clawdeen, as any werewolf would, has pointed ears and fangs like teeth. Operetta is purple with full sleeve tattoos and a very obvious scar covering half of her face.
When Em was four, she was bitten in the face by one of our dogs. She was fortunate in that she was left with a scar on her face instead of permanent nerve damage to the entire left side of her face like the facial surgeon feared.
That scar, a scar I don’t even notice anymore, has always bothered her. Immediately after the accident, she didn’t want to go back to ballet or nursery school because she said she looked like a freak and everyone would laugh.
I was heart-broken for her, but whenever she brought it up, I would tell her that the scar is part of her and that she beautiful regardless.
Em thinks Operetta is a beautiful doll, and when she first got her out of the box, she said with a tone of pride in her voice, “Mom. She has a scar just like me.”
Em and Ella spend as much time playing with their Monster High dolls as I did playing with Barbie. They love them, and I get as excited about them as my girls do because they are funky and outside the box.
I have nothing against Barbie whatsoever. The hours I spent playing with my dolls are memories I treasure. I couldn’t wait for Em and Ella to be old enough to play with Barbies, but they never really cared for her or Ken. Compared to the Monster High gang, I can certainly see why.
Different isn’t necessarily bad; it is something we should embrace. Imagine how boring the world would be if everyone were exactly the same. It would be like a bowl full of Lucky Charms after someone has picked it clean of the magically delicious and colorful marshmallows.