Some Parents Are Losing Their Minds Over Dolls With Anatomically Correct Male Genitals
Parents are divided over the anatomically correct design of the popular LOL Surprise! dolls. Here's what you need to know.
Plenty of parents have no question what their child wants for the holidays this year: It's an LOL Surprise! doll. But not all parents are on board with the popular toy created by MGA Entertainment. In an effort to encourage boys to get into the trend, MGA recently released male versions of the doll, and some parents are furious that they have, as The Sun reports, "a sculptured penis and testicles in the genital area, where the girl dolls have a hole."
Here's what you need to know.
What Parents Are Saying
Complaints about the doll's anatomy have peppered social media. According to The Sun, comments have included, "Why the f*** do the male LOL Surprise dolls have male genitals!?!? And detailed af too!?!?" and “Considering the majority of your consumers are little girls, I suggest this change IMMEDIATELY. Such a HUGE fail; please keep the genital area FLAT."
Other parents are A-OK with MGA's move, pointing out that children are simply seeing their own genitalia reflected back to them.
What the Toy Manufacturer Says
In response to the outcry, Isaac Larian, CEO and founder of MGA Entertainment, told The New York Post, "All of our LOL Surprise boy dolls have been (and will continue to be) anatomically correct. We believe in the importance of clarity and authenticity with our products and our consumers, and this approach has been carried through all of our products over the past 40 years."
Larian went onto state that anatomically dolls have been available for many years—and the company isn't misleading anyone. "We currently have a notification on all packaging, website and product retail pages that states the LOL Surprise! boys are anatomically correct," he noted. "After all, human beings are naturally and anatomically correct. Do we want to fight the nature and give false impression to kids from early age? Parents can decide this and buy or don’t buy it."
What Experts Say
Children are encouraged to use the proper terminology for genitalia from a young age, as research shows that knowing the correct anatomical terms enhances kids’ body image, self-confidence, and openness. It also discourages their susceptibility to sexual abuse. Is seeing anatomically correct features on a doll the same?
Yes, says Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and family therapist in Los Angeles. "There is some value in having anatomically correct genitalia if one is teaching about body parts or children are curious," she notes.
But whether they have an LOL Surprise! doll or not, they'll want to know about body parts. "Children are naturally curious and ask the most upfront pertinent questions, and they will do so whether the dolls are anatomically correct or not," Raymond says. "Girls may want to ask about the female doll that doesn't have a vagina and labia/doesn't look like her body. That's a great opportunity to talk about anatomy and how it changes with age. Same with male dolls. Do they show puberty based anatomy or pre-puberty—before testicles have descended or after? Circumcised or not?"
The bottom line: "It's not about the dolls themselves, but the stimulation of curiosity that is vital," Raymond says. And all parents would do well to consider how they want to meet their child's innate inquisitiveness—with open, age-appropriate conversation or unnecessary shame.