It has been one hell of a week, friends! I am very excited to report that I am writing this post from my very own, brand new laptop computer. Hooray! This is soooo cool. :)
Another very cool event this week was finding the latest copy of Bitch magazine waiting for me in my teeny tiny mailbox. (Why do they insist on stuffing all the junk mail in there with my real mail? Gah!) There was an article in the "Love It/Shove It" section that really got me thinking. It's titled "My Little Calliponian" and was penned by Jesse Rutherford. In this article she compared the original My Pretty Pony released in 1981 by a Hasbro subsidiary, to the subsequent My Little Pony that most women now nearing their thirties probably remember.
These were the little plastic horses with long brushable hair that came in all kinds of different colors. Each one had a little symbol on it's rear end that sort of went with it's whimsical name. There were unicorn ponies, Pegasus ponies, sea horse ponies (for bath time!) and little baby ponies, to name a very few. Being a horse crazy little girl, I had a whole herd of these plastic equine facsimiles. I used to spend hours playing with them. One year I received the My Little Pony stable for my birthday and I don't think I came out of my room for a week. There were pony clothes, shoes, and every accessory under the sun. I hate to think about how much money my parents must have spent on them. I loved all of my ponies and I still have many of them packed away in a box with other childhood treasures.
So imagine my horror when I read Jesse Rutherford's article about my beloved pastel ponies. She had some very astute observations about the drastic change the ponies underwent at the hands of Hasbro executives. According to her the original My Pretty Pony was:
"Brown with flat set feet, straight legs and a lowered chin concealing a switch that made her wink, flick her tail, and twitch her ears."
She continues: "In 1982 the toy now called My Little Pony, was released in a rainbow of pastel colors with longer tail, more brushable manes, and names like Cotton Candy, Minty, Butterscotch and Blossom. Though their feet remained flat, the front legs had been shortened, pushing the callipygian pony's rump up higher than it's chest - a display of sexual availability known in studies of animal mating behaviour as mammalian lardosis, and more commonly called, "asking for it.' "
Oh god, say it isn't so. There's more though.
"This toy...was positively child like with it's small nose and large eyes, which are traits of infancy in humans and other animals. My Little Pony featured... bigger pupils than the original My Pretty Pony. Bedroom eyes are not just an armchair sociologist's observation: Barbara and Allan Pease explain in their book The Definitive Book of Body Language that bedroom eyes are another sign of sexual availability."
Here are some my own ponies from back in the day (ie. circa 1985).
After reading this, I went home and dug out that old box of treasures. Now, I also have to admit that I received a brand new My Little Pony for Christmas this year. I had seen them around and thought it was so cool that my old toys were out again. My mom spent yet more money on plastic ponies for me this year. Bless her.
Another of my old ponies
After I found (read: took out of the box and played with for half an hour) my old ponies I immediately saw other differences in the design. The ponies I have from my youth do indeed have the slightly raised back end and the large eyes and pupils described in the article. However, compared to the newest pony, they look downright chubby. The latest model is a little smaller, much slimmer and has longer legs in proportion to her body. At least my old pastel ponies had a bit of healthy pony chub. This pony has been on a diet!
I also noticed that her eyes are even bigger and the shape of her head has changed again. The old ponies had a sloping forehead and more horse-like nose and cheeks. The new ponies have a scooped forehead and an even more childlike face.