It finally happened. Wendy, the beloved pig-tailed redhead icon of the hamburger chain, has grown up. In Russia, of all places. Sporting red-and-white striped legwarmers and black stiletto heels, the new Wendy is sexing it up to attract new customers in the former Soviet Union, but apparently she’s getting a frosty reception from Wendy’s American executives and nostalgic hamburger aficionados, who can’t deal with the makeover of America’s wholesome sweetheart. After all, Wendy is the face of the founder’s daughter when she was only eight.
But in this case, when I saw the images, I felt that they were pretty tame. The dress is above the knee and the stilettos would do any drag queen proud, but I don’t think you’ll be seeing her on your local street corner any time soon. The high-neck collar of the prairie dress is still in tact, along with the pigtails. She’s Laura Ingalls from the thighs up.
Then there is the shameless misogyny of Carl’s Jr., which shows sexy women riding mechanical bulls, and most recently, Miss Turkey in an “eensy weensy” bikini polka dotted with burgers, advertising the new turkey burger. Though there is the obligatory kids’ menu at Carl’s Jr., the restaurant doesn’t even provide a changing table in its restrooms. The message is clear: men, and maybe their dates, single supermodels built like a brick house (36, 24, 36—but try keeping those numbers after eating a Western bacon burger, thus the turkey burger, I guess), need apply. It’s playing into a disgusting male fantasy about sex and food. And yet, Carl’s Jr. still manages to break down my feminist resistance. I find myself going there, because they make their shakes with real ice cream. It’s hand-scooped! My “brick house” days are behind me, thanks to Carl’s Jr. (Now I’m made of something more malleable, like stucco.)
Which brings me to what I really want to write about: the doll bust my daughter recently got in her first Happy Meal at MacDonald’s. It was one of the Liv dolls, only the head and shoulders, kind of reminiscent of the Barbie styling heads, only in miniature and much more garish.
Her caption read “When she grows up she wants to be a musician,” but she already looked like a 25-year-old waiting her turn to bear all on the next Girls Gone Wild video. In fact, she looked like she’s been around the block more times than the ice cream truck. My friend pointed out that what made her so sleazy was the hairstyle. It was just bad, and that, coupled with the mortuary makeup and bra-like top, made me hit the ceiling. Mama Bear was not happy when she opened this Happy Meal. It made me think that the fast food powers-that-be believe our daughters aren’t growing up fast enough. The restaurants need to hand out busts of sorority girls who partied too hard on spring break to show our daughters the image to which they should aspire.
There are ways for the fast food restaurants to keep moms happy. A: Have changing tables. B: Have wholesome toys in your kids’ meals (since then the Happy Meal favors have gotten much tamer, with Strawberry Shortcake and Smurfette). And C: kindly remove the calories from your chocolate chip cookie shakes. And please, Carl’s Jr., give your local soccer (ballet, gymnastics, etc.) mom a turn on the mechanical bull.