Sexy Toy Make-Overs: Polly Pocket, Care Bears, and Barbie

by Lisa Wade, Cross-posted with permission from Sociological Images

We’ve enjoyed documenting the recent trend of sexifying toys, including Dora the ExplorerStrawberry Shortcake, Holly HobbieLisa Frank, Trolls, Cabbage Patch KidsMy Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, and Candy Land, and Lego (you can see them all together on our Sexy Toy Make-Overs Pinterest board).

Let’s start with Barbie because given how she’s the quintessential sexy toy, I think it’s surprising that she’s been made over.  I found evidence for the Barbie make-over at Feminist Philosophers.  They put up the image below showing how Barbie’s torso was changed in the 2000s to one that was slimmer and with a more arched back:







Cynical Idealism posted about the Care Bear make-over.  The toys have been made both thinner, more flirty, and less androgynous.

Care Bears Then:


Care Bears Now:



I learned about the Polly Pocket make-over at Feminist Fatale.  Whereas in the 1980s, Polly Pocket looked kind of like an infant and came with various accessories, today’s Polly Pocket is decidedly more Barbie-like.

1980s Polly Pocket:

Today’s Polly Pocket:

(source: Mattel)

So, there you have it! Three more sexy toy make-overs.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

7 thoughts on “Sexy Toy Make-Overs: Polly Pocket, Care Bears, and Barbie

  1. Deb, your daughter cutting up her dolls hair and dressing it in socks is not a reason to be proud or pat yourself on the back.
    Have you ever seen old Barbies? Most of them are naked, have teeth marks, are bald, drawn on, half melted, ect.. Literally anything that can happens to a piece of plastic happens to Barbie, mainly because that’s exactly what it is.

  2. What a load of rubbish. Barbie represents and adult with an adult figure, that doesn’t imply sexualisation. I’d be happier if people criticized Action man, or is it OK that kids are allowed to play at being genocidal murderers?

  3. i had not seen those new care-bears. they’re sickening. my daughter is 11, so thankfully we “graduated” from those wretched things long ago. when my daughter was younger i at first tried to shield her from these kinds of images, but of course, i discovered that to be an impossibility, so instead i tried to educate her. when she finally did own barbies of her own, she cut off their hair and dressed them up in old socks. it was a refreshing sight to see!

  4. Wow, the Care Bear one freaks me out. Why do they look so flirty and posing so slutty? Isn’t the target audience young girls? Why would the manufacturers need to make the Care Bears look seductive to attract the attention of young girls? Little kids like cute things, not sexy ones. It is so sad to see the media putting forth the negative image of “perfection” on not just teenagers but now even little kids.

  5. I am pretty sure the 90s barbie is not even a mattel barbie. I have barbies all the way back to the first barbie and the plastic on that one appears to be the same plastic as barbie knock offs but without the head I really cannot tell.

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