WASHINGTON - May 22 - “Don’t use sex to sell toys to six-year-olds!” That’s the message the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and Dads and Daughters’ (DADs) are sending today to Hasbro. This fall, the toy company plans to launch a line of dolls for children as young as six that are replicas of the Pussycat Dolls, a real-life music group that is famous for their sexualized lyrics and dance routines. CCFC and DADs launched a letter-writing campaign urging Hasbro not to release the dolls and to end its licensing agreement with the group.
“It’s irresponsible for Hasbro to target little girls with such blatantly eroticized dolls,” said Dr. Susan Linn, CCFC’s co-founder and author of Consuming Kids. They’re not thinking about what’s good for children. Instead, they’re ratcheting up the raunch to compete in a market saturated with sexualized toys, clothing, and media targeted at kids.”
MCA Entertainment’s highly sexualized Bratz dolls have surpassed Barbie as the number one selling doll for young girls. Hasbro is pushing the envelope even farther by modeling their dolls on real-life celebrities whose titillating displays are regularly seen on MTV. According to The New York Times, the dolls will mimic the group’s “playfully risqué style.”
“It’s not just dolls that are being marketed here, but a host of harmful messages about play, appearance, sexuality and what it means to be a young girl,” said CCFC’s Dr. Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College who is currently writing a book about the sexualization of childhood. “And because these dolls are based on real people and real behaviors, these messages are even more pernicious, more confusing, and more powerful.”
CCFC is urging parents not to buy the dolls. Hasbro is one of the country’s largest toymakers; manufacturing familiar names like Playskool, Milton-Bradley, Play-Doh, My Little Pony, and TONKA.
The Pussycat Dolls began performing as a burlesque troupe in 1995. Sexualized clothing and eroticized dancing continue to be a central facet of their act. Many of the songs, including their current single “Buttons” (a duet with Snoop Dogg), contain suggestive lyrics and themes. The group’s biggest hit “Don’t Cha,” featured in a popular Heineken Lite beer commercial, alludes to group sex and includes the chorus:
“Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me?”
DADs president Joe Kelly urged Hasbro CEO Alfred J. Verrecchia to think as a grandfather and a father before releasing the new line dolls. In a May 16 letter to Verrecchia, Kelly wrote: “You would never encourage your young grandchildren to engage in or aspire to hyper-sexualized behaviors six or seven years before they reach adolescence, and I am sure you did not do the same with your own children when they were very young. But that is exactly what Pussycat Dolls will do to children.”