Now even Candy Land is sexy? The “sexification” of kids’ toys, yesterday to today

I consider myself fairly vigilant when it comes to monitoring June’s media exposure. She watches the occasional Sesame Street, Caillou or Letter Factory DVDs but a story in The Atlantic yesterday about the sexing up of even Candy Land — Candy Land!  — is a reminder that parents have to be careful about what sort of toys our kids plays with too.

The classic child’s board game is just the latest in a long list of examples of kids’ toys in which the characters have become more sexualized, longer, leaner  and sassier over time. It seems that not even Rainbow Brite is free from being nipped, tucked and “enhanced” in some way.

rainbow-brite-600x354At first glance, this may seem banal — so what if the 2013 version of Candy Land’s Queen Frostine is a few pounds lighter than the 80s version?  Well, it does matter–a lot, and there is ample research to back it up.  Constant exposure to unrealistic beauty standards and hyper sexualized imagery is directly linked to low body satisfaction and diminished self esteem, according to body image expert Thomas F. Cash in his book Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice and Prevention. There is evidence that in girls as young as five watching appearance focused TV predicts body dissatisfaction. In fact, some 40 to 50 percent of kids between the ages of 6-12 already say they don’t like their size or shape.

I don’t want June growing up absorbing the message it’s her job to be super skinny, sexy and alluring. Who needs it? Following is a brief slide show showing how some kids’ characters have undergone sexy, hyper idealized physical transformations over the years. It’s enough to make me want to break out the Lincoln Logs.


  • 80s era Queen Frostine 1 of 12
    80s era Queen Frostine
    Here, the queen of Candy Land is round and childlike with an innocent, non-suggestive expression. (Image source: Rachel Marie Stone)
  • Today’s Queen Frostine 2 of 12
    Today's Queen Frostine
    Is it just me or does this chick look like an applicant for The Real Housewives Candy Land edition? Lustrous, blond weave: Check. Bedroom-slash-Percocet eyes: Check. Pouty lips and a longer, skinnier body guaranteed to drive the four year olds wild: Check and check! Twerk it for those gum drops, honey!
  • 80s era Princess Lolly 3 of 12
    80s era Princess Lolly
    Awww, Candy Land's other main female character was so dainty and cute and innocent back in the 80s. She even curtsied!
  • Today’s Princess Lolly 4 of 12
    Today's Princess Lolly
    She's still dainty and cute only now her physique is longer, leaner in a Tracy Anderson sort of way. It's never too early to think svelte, toddlers!
  • 80s era My Pretty Pony 5 of 12
    80s era My Pretty Pony
    The first generation of My Pretty Ponies were plump and rather staid..... (Image: Into the Sea)
  • Today’s My Pretty Pony 6 of 12
    Today's My Pretty Pony
    Not so in 2013. This sleek and sexy pony looks primed to prance around the stripper pole at the nearest jockey club. (Image source: Rachel Marie Stone)
  • Vintage G.I. Joe 7 of 12
    Vintage G.I. Joe
    The objectification of kid's toys isn't limited to depictions of females. Male characters receive the same warped treatment. Here, the 60s era G.I. Joe is somewhat grounded in reality. Okay, his arms might be simian in length, but his physique and facial expression are otherwise normal.
  • Today’s G.I. Joe 8 of 12
    Today's G.I. Joe
    Everything you need to know about today's Joe can be summed up in his title: The G.I. Joe Retaliation Ninja Commando Roadblock Figure. See, he's not JUST a ninja or a commando or even a human roadblock; he's all your nightmares rolled into one…on steroids, i.e. the kind of guy who will rip your arms off in retaliation for cutting in front of him at Starbucks. Image source: Hasbro)
  • Vintage Malibu Ken 9 of 12
    Vintage Malibu Ken
    The only body disorder this 1979 Sun Lovin' Malibu Ken doll suffers from is a bad case of tanorexia. (And possibly jock itch, those shorts look mighty snug...) (Image source: Now Public)
  • Today’s Malibu Ken 10 of 12
    Today's Malibu Ken
    The current version of beach Ken (technically called "Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 Ken") is distinctly more chiseled, accentuated by a tough silver chain and a pair of demure board shorts. (Image source: Mattel)
  • 80s Exercise Barbie 11 of 12
    80s Exercise Barbie
    Still, all is not lost. Back in the day, the emphasis for Great Shape Barbie (and Ken) was all about Barbie's body and her cool leotard and leg warmers and no attention to how all that manic aerobicizing made her feel (watch the commercial here); not a great message for little girls…
  • Today’s Fitness Barbie 12 of 12
    Today's Fitness Barbie
    Mattel has come under fire over the years for its warped depictions of the female body, and while Barbie's physique is still totally unrealistic, the company seems to have made a push toward less superficial representations of what it means to be a woman. For example, they've done away with Great Shape Barbie, with its emphasis on appearance, and have since introduced more action-oriented dolls, such as Barbie "I Can Be a Track Champion." That's progress. (Image source: Mattel)

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