Great attention is paid to that fine line between self-expression and growing up far too fast when it comes to children, tweens, and teenagers. It seems as though self-esteem issues and body-image obsessions are stemming from less-obvious outlets though, namely Candy Land, a board game we all know and love. A wasp-waisted, more-suggestive Queen Frostine has replaced the original Princess, Grandma Nutt found a plastic surgeon, and Mr. Mint’s biceps have tripled in size. The irony lies in the doubled portions of ice cream and candy; the board is now covered in sweets, while the peanuts and plums have been removed from the 1980s version. So, the real question is: How is Queen Frostine maintaining that figure?
Related topics have been discussed for decades, maybe centuries: too-revealing clothing, unfortunate celebrity role models, and the struggle with self-esteem. Writers like Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate my Daughter, and Rachel Marie Stone, author of Eat With Joy, tackle issues regarding Princess-culture and GI-Joe repercussions, while many argue that the rhetoric is overly sensitive and dramatized. Are toys and games taken at face value, or are they sending messages that are affecting the esteem of youngsters? Stone points out that research has proven that from a young age, boys and girls struggle with self-image due to the damage left by media and societal expectations.
Orenstein states, “When our kids play with toys that we played with, we assume that they are the same toys. So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that it’s not the same at all. It just has the same name. And the images our kids are exposed to from the youngest ages are so distorted.”
Candy Land is not the only nostalgic toy taking heat for putting child-like figures on a diet. Lately, Barbie, Rainbow-Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, Dora, My Little Ponies, and even Care Bears have taken on drastic transformations. In defense of toymakers everywhere, it may be argued that they are simply following the trends of toy sale demographics. This is a sticky subject, and it’s difficult to decipher where the problem lies. Are we being too sensitive, or are we glorifying unrealistic expectations for children?
For more commentary from Kara, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!