Did the tooth fairy visit your house back when you were a tooth-shedding child?
Unless your parents were literalists (or you grew up somewhere the tooth fairy dare not tread), it’s likely you performed the ritual of placing your lost tooth underneath your pillow before bed only to find it replaced with a shiny coin in the morning.
Though we all have varying accounts of what the tooth fairy looked like, because a child’s imagination is truly the world’s most precious resource, she’s typically depicted as a wee, shapeless, friendly-looking sprite with wings and a jingly cash bag.
But somewhere deep in a cavernous, multimillion-dollar lair, a pair of toy experts decided what the tooth fairy really needed, more than a top-up to her loose-tooth campaign, more than a few more adorable freckles across her nose, was a boob job, a full makeover and a sexed-up wardrobe. Because, of course she did.
Howard Bollinger, a former vice-president of Hasbro, and his wife Marilyn, listed as a “noted toy expert and author of 30 Disney books” launched the Real Tooth Fairies, a sextet of sexed-up adult women with Barbie doll proportions who happen to exchange your children’s teeth for money, but also do other things, like encourage children to be kind (in addition to being pretty, pretty princesses, though, because that comes first.)
While it’s tempting to imagine the Bollingers took their cue from another franchise full of “Real” women, it’s likely they were just following the tried-and-tested truism that sex sells, even when it comes to baby molars.
Also see: Barbie gets (another) real makeover
The commercial opportunities are endless. Just take a tour through the Real Tooth Fairy website. It’s a virtual Candyland of bad female stereotypes.
All the occupations and activities of these Real Tooth Fairies include things like acting, dancing, cheerleading, and music making. There’s one fairy who’s described as a scientist, but her degree seems to be put toward making cosmetics for the other fairies to remain perfectly put together whilst traveling under gigantic pillows and enacting their nightly exchanges. Oh, and the tooth fairy leader likes math, but for “counting kindness,” not trigonometry drills.
The exception is Stepella, a fairy wannabe positioned as the “bad guy”. We know this because she’s not conventionally pretty and has hairy legs, buck teeth, an unfeminine voice, glasses and a strange wardrobe. All the elements “kind” little girls wouldn’t dream of mocking on a Stepella-looking girl in real life because where on earth would they get the idea this was socially acceptable?
Boys get their own boy tooth fairies, too – Time-Travel Elffs – who look like a group of creepy, dead-eyed Abercrombie and Fitch models from hell.
And, parents: It isn’t enough to just reward your child’s milestone with money. If you shop at the Real Tooth Fairy store you will find a host of overpriced “must-haves” to sweeten the deal, like a two-piece fairy outfit for $69.99 and a pair of children’s tooth fairy books for the bargain price for $45.98. In other words, a dollar under the pillow is passe and you’re a bad parent if you don’t step up your game.
Postmedia News watched a sales video for these Real Tooth Fairies, which was uploaded by the Campaign of a Commercial-Free Childhood and swiftly yanked down a few days later, but not before the news outlet made note of Fandago president Paul Yanover discussing all the money to be made.
“Kids are going to lose many teeth over the course of several years, and each tooth is really a holiday moment. I think about the opportunities that that creates, from gifting to greeting cards to collecting,” he reportedly says.
It gets better. On the same video, a voiceover starts talking figures. "With a target audience of 10 million U.S. girls ages 6 to 10 who lose 20 teeth, that translates to 200 million Tooth Fairy moments. And biology guarantees that will never stop." This data was punctuated by a cash register ca-ching.
Naturally, the sexualization of the tooth fairy appears to be the last bastion of bad taste for many. The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has launched an anti-Tooth Fairy petition addressed to the Bollingers and Yanover for parents to sign.
But the formula also appears to be working. Postmedia notes that the website recently hit around 10 million unique visitors in 200 countries and shows no sign of slowing down.
Is this a brilliant, harmless marketing coup or has the line been crossed? Sound off below.