Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bygone Bratz?

It seems that the day has come where we will finally witness the demise of the much debated Bratz dolls. 

According to The Times,

A judge in California has ruled that all Bratz dolls – and their related merchandising — be withdrawn from circulation.

The trouble began three months ago, when Mattel, manufacturer of Barbie, won a legal challenge against MGA, the Bratz parent company. It successfully argued that the original drawings for the Bratz dolls had been developed by Carter Bryant, the designer, while he was still in its employ. He had then taken the idea to MGA, which introduced Bratz in 2001.

The jury awarded Mattel substantial damages, causing the share price to rise by 5 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange. This represented an immediate financial victory for Mattel; but the real vindication will come from the long-term effects of the shelf ban, since in recent years the Bratz dolls, with their preternaturally pouty lips and demented gaze, have been steadily encroaching on Barbie’s market share.

I would imagine many mothers of young girls are cheering this ruling with every ounce of their being.  For many, the dolls represent everything that we are fighting for our daughters NOT to emulate.

But what's interesting to consider is the success of the Bratz dolls up to this point.  Who is buying these?  How did the Bratz dolls end up as ridiculously popular as they have become? 

Someone is. 

Perhaps it's just a sense of incredulity that any mother would wish their daughters to grow up so fast.  Or maybe some mothers don't believe that the dolls have that much of an influence.

But watching my daughter learn from and imagine with many of her toys and shows, I find that hard to swallow.

And with the dolls being described like this, (via  The Times),

Overtly sexualised, fashion and fame-obsessed, the principal Bratz pursuits are dressing up, going out, parading about in front of a microphone and doing their make-up. They come pre-daubed in garish eyeshadow and mascara, with glossy,collagen-enhanced lips and distinctly minxy, come-hither expressions. They make Barbie look like a Sunday school teacher.

I'm not willing to take a chance.  

And the Barbie comparison is a subject to consider...  Barbie, in her early days, was also viewed with a hefty dose of criticism.   So is that it?  Are there people out there that consider themselves "forward thinking" enough to merit these dolls as worthy for their daughters to play with?  Do they assume that the negative attitude about Bratz dolls is a result of an overtly Puritan attitude and that people need to lighten up and get with the times?


The BBC does an interesting side-by-side analysis of Barbie and Bratz.  The most interesting comparison is where each creator got their inspiration. 

Ruth Handler saw her daughter Barbara imagining her paper dolls in grown-up roles

Carter Bryant based drawings on children he saw walking from school, Steve Madden shoe adverts and the cover of a Dixie Chicks album

So in that vein, some parents may rue the day that Bratz were invented, citing the increasingly  trashy clothes and makeup marketed to the tween set as a result of the Bratz movement.  But I think the trend started far before that.  Yes, the Bratz dolls did NOTHING to help the trash factor in relation to young girls, but one can't go all out and claim that the Bratz dolls started it. 

History has been full of intensely polarizing toys and books.  This set is no different.  

For one, I am thankful that the reign of the prematurely seductive dolls is quite possibly drawing to a close.  But if the inspiration for the dolls is any indication, I'm more than a little fearful for what overwhelming trend will come next. 


  1. I've always thought Bratz dolls were annoying aand ugly anyway!! I'm so glad they're gone! :)

  2. I've never even accepted Bratz stuff from freecyclers! Good riddance!

  3. I can not agree more. i dont have a daughter but if and when i do she will not be playng with these dolls. I this the clothing the makeup and the message are all wrong. Do i expect my daughter to always wear ankle length skirts and jeans with a sweater or a turtleneck no but a micromini and a tube top isnt acceptable either. WE need to be setting a better example for our kids. Yes Barbie is a doctor but i have never seen a doctor in a miniskirt either.

  4. I read that article too and although I don't have a little girl, I am just as glad those dolls are off the shelves!

    And I know who is buying them- my clients! I work with young mothers (most of whom have lost their children to the system) and I bet there is a Bratz doll in every single house I go to. Its so sad.

  5. Just catching up on your blog, really interesting read. I am in mixed mind about this. Even with out the doll there are still fashion images on bill boards, tv, music videos etc... taking them off the shelf wont make much of a difference.

    While I agree with all the other readers comments about these dolls whe have both bratz and barbies in our house. I pefer babie because I think she teaches a lot more morels in her dvds


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