I didn’t see this one coming. I guess the creators of these toys maybe didn’t see it coming either, and that’s exactly where I pause in AMAZEMENT.
You’d think they’d know their market, right? That they’d maybe do a focus group, or otherwise take the pulse of the wider world.
That someone somewhere would say, “Hold up. A giggle/gasp button on a doll’s vulva is not what parents want.”
Hasbro’s Troll Doll
People, if you want a doll to giggle when tapped on the head in the sitting position, you don’t place the button there. You put it in the doll’s neck.
This Troll doll feels like it’s designed for a market of child molesters, who would give the doll as a gift to groom a victim. “You make the doll giggle. Now I’ll make you giggle.” Yikes.
As you can imagine, there’s been a huge uproar. Hasbro has recalled the Troll doll.
MGA’s LOL Dolls
Personally, I’m a-ok with anatomically correct genitals. That’s fine. (I might argue that the dolls should also have anatomically correct faces, but I digress.)
If you place the doll in cold water, you see a change from nude to a design. The strappy bondage-style negligee with exposed nipples is NOT fine. Especially on a child’s body!
Again, this feels like it’s made for abusers, like they want to normalize negligee on kids. The cold-water color change thing is awesome, but why negligee? Couldn’t we have a superhero costume?
MGA Entertainment hasn’t responded or issued a recall. They’ve been here before with the over-sexualized Bratz Dolls in the early 2000s.
Parents of littles who have the toys
Maybe your child has some of these toys. If my daughter did, I’d definitely feel uncomfortable with it.
I’d try submerging the doll in cold and warm water to see what color change, if any, was on our LOL doll. Then, if I didn’t like what I saw, that doll might quietly disappear.
If my daughter was attached to one of these toys, I’d have a bigger challenge. I might create a playful story in which the doll creates a spaceship. Then we’d build the rocket out of cardboard. I’d put the doll in the spaceship and have the rocket fly up onto the top of a shelf or hang from the ceiling. We’d tell stories about the doll’s adventures exploring the universe. Basically, I’d get the toy out of reach so that my child would wean off playing with it. Then, in time, the toy could quietly disappear.
What I would NOT do is directly address with a small child why the toys are inappropriate. That path would lead me and my daughter into territory she wouldn’t understand and I don’t want to get into. I absolutely value consent, but talking about this head on is not going to result in my child consenting to get rid of the dolls.
Older kids witnessing the uproar
It’s in the news, it’s all over social media, so your tween or teen may very well be aware of these dolls and the issues being raised.
If your child has asked you about it, it’s best to have the conversation, but it doesn’t have to be right in the moment. It’s absolutely ok to put off the conversation until you know what you want to say or until younger siblings aren’t present. Just make sure to have the conversation some time, because we don’t want our kids to get the impression that we’re avoiding talking about the subject, even if it’s uncomfortable.
If your child hasn’t brought it up, you have a choice. If this conversation starter feels good to you, go for it! If you’d rather not, that’s find too.
I might ask my older child: “Have you heard about the Trolls doll recall? Some people felt like it promoted child sexual abuse…What do you think?” Or, “Do you think the makers saw this backlash coming?…Why or why not?”
I imagine we might end up having a discussion about the media being so hyper-sexualized that even toy manufacturers are desensitized. Or a discussion about child sexual abuse or child pornography. Or it might validate my child’s experience when she said or did something that wasn’t received well by others. Or even a discussion about whether a scandal is good press.
No matter what conversation follows, it’s a win, because you’re talking about it. Normalizing these conversations is exactly what’s protective over the long haul.
Teachers and parents are shift workers on the same job, but many of us have lost that village. Where I am, it will be distance learning for the foreseeable future. This year, there might not be much coming from schools about relationships or sex ed as they focus on trying to meet basic academic benchmarks.
Whether these dolls come up in conversation with your family or not, keep looking for opportunities to have conversations about sex and relationships. Keep sharing your values with your child, because you are their #1 influence.
As things come up, feel free to reach out! Let me know what prompt produced a good conversation, or what conversation you’re struggling to have. I’m just an email away.
In support of you,
P.S. The Third Talk is still accepting founding members! If you’re interested in a FREE membership to their private, supportive, and fact-based parent forums, specifically dedicated to helping parents talk about online pornography with kids, click here and enter coupon code BetaUsersWelcome.