Is McDonald’s Seriously Trying to Sexualize My 4-Year-Old?

Yesterday my 4-year-old daughter had a fun day out with Gran’pa. They visited the fish store where she got to touch a giant fish and she “wasn’t even scared!” Then they went to the carousel museum where she rode a big carousel horse and played a beanbag game knocking down castle themed targets. She had a fun time playing on the playground at McDonald’s too (a special treat that she doesn’t often get with her mom!)

So of course she was excited to show me her Happy Meal toy.

I’m still twitching.

The toy was a tie-in to the Nickelodeon show “Victorious.” Now I’m not exactly sure what age demographic Nick is trying to target with promoting this show, but I can guarantee that the demographic receiving the Happy Meal toy are primarily girls age 4 through pre-teen (because really, are highschoolers buying that many Happy Meals for the plastic toys?). I say “girls” because it is clearly the “girl” toy option, while the boys get “Spy Gear.”

So, the toy itself was fine – a little toy necklace – pink star shaped – that played a song. I’m ok with that to this point. What got me were the lyrics to the song it played, which were basically “Yea… My best friend’s brother is the one for me!” (followed by a bunch more yea’s). They had the lyrics printed on the insert in case you couldn’t make them out from the scratchy sounding speaker.

Seriously? Isn’t it a little creepy to hear a 4-year-old singing along with that bopping around the house? Seeing the music video on the Nick site didn’t make me feel any better. The Nick star is prancing around oohing and aahing over a clearly older guy. I guess we are to assume the character is at least 16 because they show her behind the wheel driving a car, but my problem is not necessarily with Victoria Justice or the song – but what age the audience is.

Do we really want to get our young girls worrying about (and singing about!) having crushes on older guys and being afraid to tell their friends about it? That the way to catch his attention is to ogle him and wear your cutest short shorts while dancing on the table to serenade him? And despite what Nick might say about their intended audience (I don’t know what they are officially trying to target), as a mother and a marketer I am sure their sweet spot is with tweens, not 16+ girls. I’d be surprised if the high school girls I know choose to watch Nick in the evenings.

As for our house, that little toy might just “disappear” as soon as it’s abandoned somewhere. And I’ll continue to teach my girls that they don’t need to be concerned about that kind of stuff and it’s frankly inappropriate for them.

And be thankful that they would just as soon muck around in muddy puddles in their rainboots making a “garden.” That’s what girls aged 4 and 8 should be doing… playing and creating.

As for music, we’ll play this one instead ;)


One thought on “Is McDonald’s Seriously Trying to Sexualize My 4-Year-Old?

  1. I thought the exact thing today when my 7 year old daughter was singing along, except I overheard her singing about her best friend’s father and was extremely alarmed!! Why is this going out to the little kids in happy meals?? C’mon McDonald’s!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>