LOL Surprise! Dolls and the controversy over hidden sexual messages in children’s toys

Mega retailer Toys R Us is currently facing the wrath of outraged parents who claims to have discovered “hidden sexual messages” in their very popular product, LOL Surprise! Dolls. An Australian mother pointed out that these dolls, when submerged naked in icy water, showed signs of bondage and sexualized underwear. Her video went viral and sparked a forest fire, leading to the removal of these dolls from the shelves of several stores around the world.

Kate Worlsforld, a woman from Brisbane posted a video on Facebook earlier this week, where she performed the experiment on camera. She dipped a LOL doll into the water, fished it out and showed a close-up of how “bandages” and “chains” began to appear on the body of the toy, with the word “caution” written on it. private parts. Enraged, she goes on to say, “This is the most disgusting thing I have ever encountered.”

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Her video quickly went viral with over 20 million views. Apparently, a store in Australia pulled a line of LOL dolls from its shelves after Worlsforld’s complaint. A similar outcry was raised by Helly Oâ ???? Brien, blogger and mother of three, based in Dubai, who said: “When you put them in a bucket of ice, you will see that they are not made for children”, leading to the dolls’ withdrawal from the stores of the MENA region.

Parents across social media have released similar videos like the one below.

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LOL Dolls sex messaging is not the first of its kind

This particular controversy comes after a similar one that happened in August with the popular Troll Dolls from toy company Hasbro. Social media users reported that pressing a button on the private parts of the toy releases sounds of excitement and pleasure from the toy. While these troll dolls have been taken off the shelves, it’s later clarified by a Hasbro representative that the button placement was “inappropriate” but “not intentional.”

While Toys R Us hasn’t released an official statement regarding its own fiasco with LOL Dolls, it looks like there’s a lot to be done. One of America’s oldest and most distinguished toy stores, Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and ultimately closed all stores in the United States and Britain. leaving a gaping hole worth $ 4 billion in the toy market. However, it came back to life in 2019, under a renewed identity and banner. And one of the products that helped rebuild her prestige (and finances) was the infamous LOL Doll.

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The ups and downs of LOL Surprise! Dolls

LOL (short for Lil Outrageous Littles) dolls, since their launch in 2016, have won numerous Toys R Us accolades internationally, including one three times. to win at the Toy Oscars, or the Annual Toy Industry Awards. In November 2018, NYT reported this surprise LOL! even hosted a fashion show in Los Angeles where celebrity kids, including Kim Kardashian’s daughter, took to the ramp disguised as the brand’s dolls.

The thrill of LOL dolls is that they have to be unpacked, which is supposed to contribute to the “surprise” factor. It contains sparkly accessories and colorful trinkets inside, accompanying the little doll. And due to the runaway success of the original LOL Surprise !, variations like LOL OMG and LOL Bubbly Surprise! have emerged. Children don’t know what’s inside the caboodle until they open it, which is why Sucharita Kodali, Analyst, estimate, “A significant success of these toys is the mismatch of supply and demand. It fuels the frenzy. “

Despite their success, the LOL Dolls have always been at the heart of controversy. In 2019, it was reported that the parents remained furious after discovering the clothes of the male LOL dolls only to discover that the exposed genitals were… well, worryingly precise.

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Hyper-sexualization of dolls can negatively affect young minds

The contract to manufacture the LOL dolls belongs to MGA Entertainment, which is also the name of the iconic Bratz fashion dolls. Best described as the older, more fashionable sisters of LOL dolls, the Bratz line first appeared in 2001, instantly achieving frantic success and approaching 40 percent of the global fashion doll market by 2006, the remaining share belonging to the older sister, Barbie.

Bratz and Barbie dolls, during their early years, had received their fair share of criticism for their hypersexualized features and clothing, especially when these plastic figures landed roles in Hollywood movies, where they dressed provocatively, spoke sexy and did … up tight. Sharon Lamb, member of the American Psychological Association (APA), noted this exposure to such ‘sexualization’ in toys may affect gender development in young girls and boys.

Read also: Netflix apologizes for inappropriate artwork that “? ? Sexualize? ??? Girls

And not just toys, but the open sexualization of children themselves is strongly contested. Recently, Netflix faced backlash for promoting their new movie poster. Cute with an unduly provocative poster featuring young girls. Adults everywhere are realizing the huge impact of sexual triggers and how they should be avoided when it comes to children’s markets. It’s time for toy companies to get a little more responsible too.

Image Credit: Toys R Us

The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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