’50 Shades of Grey’ Teddy Bear: Awkward Twitter Outrage Ensues

If you want the new 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, you may be in the minority. Outrage mixed with laughter ensued on Twitter a few days before Valentine’s Day, and many of the comments were fueled by the 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear advertisements on National Public Radio (NPR). Most of the news coverage of the 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear is included in lists of new Valentine’s Day gifts available for 2015. However, few highlight the funny reactions from people that are flabbergasted that the 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear exists in the first place.

There were several comments on Twitter related to the 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear that talked about the bear crossing the line. One Twitter user mentioned the “child offender registry” in relationship to the 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear and others tweeted about how buying the bear may connote pedophilia. Along those lines, there has been a movement in America that rebukes the “sexualization of children” and the “sexualization of toys.”

In January 2014, SFGate blogger, Amy Graff, wrote an article about the sexualization of children’s toys in response to a Newsweek article that discussed the sexualization of tweens from ages 10 to 12 and says, “These girls are far more mature because they’re living in a world in which everything that could possibly be sexualized is sexualized, from Halloween costumes to toys.” She follows with a quote from the aforementioned Newsweek article by author Abigail Jones in the following.

“Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake have morphed from pudgy cartoon characters into slimmed down infantile sexpots, and even My Little Pony and Candyland — yes, a toy horse and a board game – got sexy makeovers.”

If you do not want your child to have a 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear because you think it is a teddy bear with a sexy makeover — and therefore not appropriate for children – you have some supporters. Diane Levin, author of the book So Sexy So Soon, wrote an article for PBS called “Protecting Children from A Sexualized Childhood.” Levin gave advice for parents that are concerned that their children are exposed to too much content aimed at children that is sexualized. Levin states the following as preventative measures.

“Work at all levels to create a society that is more supportive of children’s healthy gender and sexual development. This includes promoting public policies that reduce the sexualization of children and limiting the power of corporations to market sex to children.”

So what does the Vermont Teddy Bear Company say about their 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear? When you land on their homepage, you see that they have lots of bears that appear to be targeted at children, but they have a lot of adult women in their front page pictures that help them sell the 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear for Valentine’s Day — along with other types of bears. The webpage that specifically advertises the 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear says,

If you want to dominate Valentine’s Day, skip the roses and send the limited-edition Fifty Shades of Grey Bear… He features smoldering eyes, a suit and satin tie, mask – even mini handcuffs.”

What other characters have an eye mask, handcuffs, and a business suit? The first person I think of is The Riddler… and Twitter seems to think this 50 Shades of Grey teddy bear is obviously riddled.

[All images from the referenced links.]