Sexually Frank: The Rebranding of a Childhood Favorite
|Et tu, Lisa Frank?|
The sexualization of little girls' playthings is nothing new. Much ado was made of Dora the Explorer's makeover from regular looking kid to a lithe, feminized version. Even My Little Ponies have been made over to have smaller bodies, longer, skinnier legs, and come-hither poses.
The ultimate example of sexy toys for little girls, of course, are the infamous Bratz Dolls: dolls who wear copious amounts of makeup, mid-riff bearing tops, mini-skits, and platform heels. (Or sometimes just a bikini and a jacket.) There was even a line of Baby Bratz which fulfilled what one assumes the manufacturers thought was an overlooked desire for sexy babies.
As a kid I was never interested in dolls, preferring animals and dinosaurs to Barbies. And like a lot of little girls I loved Lisa Frank. For the uninitiated, Lisa Frank was a branded line of school supplies consisting of Trapper Keepers and folders that looked like they were designed by a six-year-old girl on acid. Dalmatian puppies with rainbow colored spots, Golden Retrievers playing in buckets of upended neon colored paint, and unicorns with rainbow manes were staples of the line.
|The Lisa Frank we know and love.|
Lisa Frank appealed to me because there were no people in her universe, just technicolor dolphins and polar bears. So, I was more than a little disappointed when I purchased a pad of Lisa Frank stickers at the store yesterday on a whim and flipped the pages open to find myself staring at what looked like Lisa Frank-ified Bratz Dolls populating the pages. The whimsical ponies of my childhood were being straddled by big-headed coquettes in hot-pink midriff tops.
Ostensibly, the purpose of tampering with a brand is to adjust for what the appeals to the audience. And while I'm sure interest in the Lisa Frank line may have waned since the color-saturated '80s and '90s, I have to wonder if little girls actually are more interested in bizarrely proportioned nymphets dressed like sexy hippies than a righteous day-glo tiger cub. And if they aren't, who are these re-designs really for?
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