Dolls don’t always have the most female-positive origins. Best selling fashion dolls like Barbie are partially focused on helping young women envisioning themselves in a variety of unique careers, but a large aspect of the franchises is the idea of physical beauty and perfection.
This is what makes Ever After High unique among doll series. Following in the footsteps of Mattel’s other monster hit, Monster High–which is all about embracing your imperfections–Ever After High is a multimedia franchise, spanning dolls, a book series, and televised and YouTube webisodes.
While Monster High plays with the idea that the “mean girl” isn’t all that she seems, Ever After High takes it a step further. There is no one-dimensional bully, and the series is focused on the fact that there are two sides to every story. At first glance, it may seem like the Royals, those born into “happily ever afters,” are the easy target to turn into bossy bullies. Instead, each character is multidimensional and simply trying to be their best selves. The best part is the two main characters, Raven Queen and Apple White, could easily be written as antagonists, instead they are close friends who sincerely want the best for one another. The episodes show that their definition of “best” is colored by how they were raised and how they view the world.
All these things make Ever After High an amazing series, but it wasn’t until the second season of webisodes that Ever After High made it very clear that they have a feminist perspective.
“I love spellebrating being awesome, empowered girls!”
This webisode, The Beautiful Truth, breaks conventions. A character enters a beauty pageant not to win, but to celebrate what’s great about being a woman. And Cedar’s friends are supportive of her interest in being in a pageant, even if it is something they aren’t interested in. Best of all, the girls who traditionally participate in beauty pageants agree that beauty should be something more than skin deep.
Having media tell young girls that beauty isn’t everything is a wonderful thing. Sure, the girls of Ever After High wear fashionable clothing and make up, and some of them are in relationships (although a significantly smaller portion than most doll franchises–in fact, most of the characters say they have no time or interest for boys right now), but Ever After High focuses on–and emphasizes–the importance of female friendships and the power of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.