Tinkerbell Too Sexy? Parents Worry Toys Too Hot for Kids
Some parents are worried, claiming this is not the innocent fairy they remember from the 1953 Disney animated movie.
Really? Have they seen the movie lately?
Animators had a lot of fun with Tinkerbell's tush. First, she measures it with a hand mirror. Later, she's trapped in a drawer and can't get her rear end (which animators admitted they modeled after Marilyn Monroe's fabled derrière) through the keyhole. Viewers are treated to a rear view scene of Tink repeatedly thrusting her herself against the hole.
Soon thereafter, in an effort to shake loose some pixie dust, Peter Pan gives her a right good spanking.
All this was in 1953. Tink has since gathered an entourage of fellow flirtatious fairies. The Disney Fairies star in a line of toys and direct-to-DVD movies popular among the preteen girl crowd. And some parents worry the fairies are giving come-hither looks and wearing skimpy outfits that send girls the wrong message.
But is Tink really sexier than she was 58 years ago? Maybe not, but a professor at the University of Iowa who studies gender roles tells ParentDish there is still a big difference between the versions.
Meenakshi Gigi Durham says Tinkerbell and her fairy friends are now part of a mass marketing effort -- with countless products -- targeting little girls.
And there's a danger in that, she says.
"The dolls certainly present a narrow, commercially defined version of femininity and sexuality that is neither progressive nor diverse," Durham tells ParentDish.
Durham, a journalism professor, focuses on media with an emphasis on gender, sexuality, race and youth cultures. She is the author of "The Lolita Effect," a 2008 book about how girls are forced to become too sexy too soon.
She's not alone in her opinion of Tinkerbell and company.
"They send the message to kids that you can't just be you," Lori Mayfield, a 30-year-old mother of four from Draper, Utah, tells NBC News.
She says she and her husband even found themselves debating which fairy is the hottest. (They decided it was Silvermist.)
And it's not just Disney Fairies raising eyebrows.
There's also Monster High, a line of dolls featuring the adolescent offspring of various monsters. One of them, Clawdeen Wolf, is a werewolf who waxes her legs.
Margaux Vega, spokeswoman for Mattel, tells NBC News she figures a lot of girls can relate.
"Girls of a certain age know about the embarrassment of unwanted hair in unwanted places," she says.
However, hairy legs are hardly a problem among the dolls' target demographic of girls ages 5 to 7.
Still, Vega adds, she sees nothing wrong with the little monsters in their fishnet stockings, heavy makeup and short shorts.
"Monster High is all about celebrating your imperfections and accepting the imperfections of others," she tells NBC News.
Durham remains unconvinced.
"The body types, clothing and emphasis on practices of beautification like waxing and shaving reinforce really regressive and sexist notions of what girlhood is all about," she tells ParentDish.
Peggy Orenstein, author of "Cinderella Ate My Daughter," tells NBC News the effect of oversexed dolls is insidious.
"Girls don't naturally want to be sexy," she tells the network. "They want to be girls. That is natural. When they continue to see images of toys that are supposed to be age-appropriate emulating sexiness, then that unnatural aspiration becomes natural."
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