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7 Dolls I Played With As A Kid That Shaped My Life As An Adult

23 Oct

Greetings Gen Next readers!

People often say that dolls can influence the children playing with them. As a huge doll enthusiast, I can agree with this to a certain extent. It’s amazing how a plastic item can make such an impact on a child. I’ve had dolls that really shaped my view of the world and I’ve seen dolls shape other children around me.

With that being said, I understand why parents, particularly mothers, are so concerned with how dolls influence or shape the lives of their children.

However, I can honestly say that kids view things from a different perspective than adults. While mothers might think a doll brand will influence their child in one way, the child may pick up a completely different message depending on the other surrounding things going on in their lives.

I can honestly say that has been the case for me. Growing up in the 1990s and early 2K, we didn’t have the technology these little kiddies have. We had TOYS! And in the 1990s, toy aisles had anything a kid could ever want to play with. They were filled to the brim.

My parents encouraged me to play at a young age. I was a shy anti-social kid who didn’t like playing too much with the neighbor’s kids. Toys were my escape. My mother, along with other family members, always tried to find the best toys for me. My family always considered how each toy would impact my life, but they never knew exactly how that would occur.

Toys became an integral part of my life. Being raised a girl, my parents and grandparents always saw it fitting for me to play with dolls. Early on, my mother encouraged me to be feminine. She would encourage me to play with the most pro-girl and pro-feminine dolls she could find. She was that way. Little did she know I would grow into a tomboy who loves androgynous fashion!

My other family members, like my grandparents, also tried to find dolls that instilled values.

With my family members encouraging me to play, you can imagine I had a lot of toys, especially dolls, growing up.

Still, you might be wondering, “How did those dolls influence you to the point they impacted or shaped your life right now, as an adult?” Well, let me run down SEVEN dolls I played with as a child that shaped my life today as an adult. When I mention how they influenced me, you might understand more…

I will do a countdown style.

If you hate reading, skip down…Skip

 

7. Kenya

Created by Tyco, Kenya was a doll that promoted the beauty of African American girls’ hair. Her slogan was literally “the beautiful hairstyling doll”. You could style her hair just like you do yours African American girls!

This was probably one of the first pro-black dolls I saw on TV. Seriously, all of the dolls that came out of the Kenya brand were images of black girls.

When I first saw Kenya in the commercials, the thing that stood out to me, as a kid, was how her hair could be styled to look just like mine. To me, she looked like my vision of a “real girl”. A “real girl”, in my mind, was someone who looked like me! It’s kind of how I feel about American Girl’s Melody now. Kenya was the “Melody” of the 1990s. She was more of a modern girl that encouraged me to love myself. And I could feel that message as a kid. She was actually one of the first black dolls I was exposed to and I loved that doll. I played with her everyday. I even tried to draw my own tattoos on her…Which didn’t turn out too good, but at least she was loved.

I think having a doll like Kenya did something to me. For starters, It exposed me to the country of Kenya. In school, when we were studying countries, I never forgot about the country of Kenya because the Kenya doll had the same name. Every time the teacher would ask us to name one country in Africa, I would always remember Kenya. And I still remember that country to this day. I paid a lot of attention to that lesson and now I know so much about the country.

Then, Kenya helped me love being black with thick hair and made me desire more black dolls. I think after seeing Kenya, the generic white Barbie wasn’t satisfying enough. I began looking for more diverse brands with dolls that looked like me. Kenya made me aware of the underrepresentation present in the media because I couldn’t find any other dolls like Kenya. I always wanted to braid my dolls’ hair and put beads in my dolls’ hair. There were few dolls that offered that.

Seeing Kenya take that spotlight helped me see the beauty in being African American. I think that’s why I push for representation and equality to this day.

The only thing I never loved about this doll was the commercial. It was basic and cheesy then, and it still is. XD

I heard Kenya made a comeback some time in 2012. She came with more modern clothes and more diverse skin tones. I heard she even came with a 12″ Barbie looking type. Kenya is still making waves with trying to push representation…

 

6. Global Friends

I’m sure most of you guys know nothing about this 18″ doll brand. It didn’t even come with a commercial or anything fancy (though they had a website back in the 1990s, which was a big deal back then, but I didn’t have a very good computer in the 1990s and the internet was dial-up). If you grew up in the 1990s, maybe you got one of their catalogues.

Created by the company of the same name, Global Friends Company, inc, it spawned a brand of around 12 to 13 dolls, all from different parts of the world. Their collections and accessories centered on their cultures and their friendship through the Global Friends pen pal service set up online. At that time, the computer was just becoming a household item, and the internet was the newest advancement. With the internet age, people were able to connect with other people from all over the world. I remember when I was in 4th grade, I got my first online pen pal. She came from a different world. That was so amazing to me at the time.

This brand was trying to encourage girls to connect with girls of different cultures and backgrounds. It was a brand trying to expand the minds of girls.

Like the other 18″ dolls of that time, they were apart of the “18”” doll trend (though they were technically around 14″), meant to look like real girls, and were sold only by “mail order catalogues”. That was the allure of these dolls. They were exclusive and expensive, yet educational and wholesome.

Unfortunately, I never got to buy a Global Friends doll until I was an adult. However, I always got their catalogues in the mail and would flip through them for hours.

Though the dolls may have highlighted mostly stereotypical forms of girls from around the world, they were the first dolls that got me interested in other cultures and traveling. The dolls looked so pretty to me and the outfits were bursting with color. The diversity was fulfilling. It filled my eyes up like I-candy.

Basically, these dolls at least exposed me or became a gateway to the world. The one thing I remember most about the dolls was their “greeting” printed next to them in the magazine. I literally learned how to say greetings in many different languages because of this brand. Gretchen from Germany was first, so I always remembered “Guten Tag” (which means “Good Day”). I always remembered “Jambo”, “Ni Hao”, “Oi”, “Ahllan”, “Dobree Dyen”, Bonjour”, “Konnichiwa”, among others! I may not have learned how to properly pronounce these greetings, but I learned OF them. It was an introductory exposure to other cultures. And it worked!

The brand expanded my worldview and got me thinking about how other people live outside of my existence. I think ever since I got into these dolls, I developed a desire to travel and meet people from so many different backgrounds. I still have that desire, and I want to take the greetings I learned with me.

 

5. Amazing Amy

Amazing Amy, the interactive doll by Playmates Toys, Inc, with over 10,000 phrases. This company had a lot of interactive dolls come out of it in the 1990s and early 2K era.

And oh no, I can’t forget about Amy. I still have the commercial jingle lodged in my head, “Amazing Amy! How does she know?” And she responds, “I just know!”

Of all the dolls I grew up with, this doll actually had quite a negative impact on me.

Maybe most of us have had a negative fear of dolls before, right? Especially fearing dolls that talk. I know people who have doll phobias. I’ve never really hated dolls neither have I been scared of them. Toy Story might have scared my friends, but it didn’t scare me…

But then came Amazing Amy.

Amazing Amy was battery-powered and mechanical, which was becoming a thing at the turn of the 21st Century. She had her own clock, which could be set to the player’s specifications. She came with lots of accessories. She was blonde and wore pink. I was told she had a black version, but I knew about the blonde one from the commercials.

Quite frankly, I’m glad I didn’t get the black doll. If any doll wanted to influence me to form self-hate tendencies, it would’ve been the black Amazing Amy.

This doll…was the most annoying piece of plastic ever to come into my life.

I first saw her in a commercial and thought it would be cool to have this cute doll that could talk to me. I thought it was appealing to be able to take care of my own daughter. Appealing…So I thought.

Amazing Amy came with some pretty cool accessories, too. She had a toothbrush, a partly chewed popsicle, a bottle of milk, hot dog, juice, pizza, a banana, a cookie, and a plate of disgusting-looking “mashed food”. She liked to play “Simon Says”, “Feed Me Something”, and her “Squeeze Games”, too. She had a dress, diaper, and pajamas.

Oh yes, Amazing Amy was going to be my daughter. It didn’t matter to me that she was white and blonde in comparison to her black mother. I was excited to have my very own daughter.

So how did this cute and interactive doll shape my life negatively?

Maybe it’s not all negative to everybody, but…I believe Amazing Amy is the reason I resolved in my heart, at a young age, that I never wanted kids. To this day, I not only take motherhood seriously but I have no desire to have a baby too soon. On the plus side, I think that’s why I avoided teen pregnancy.

When I got this doll at 8 years old, I was not ready to take care of a baby. Having Amy around and turned on was like taking care of a baby. Once you set her clock in the middle of her body and turned her on, her slogan took full effect: “She knows what she wants and how to ask for it!” At first, I enjoyed taking care of her needs and feeding her. Her sensors would glitch, which would be annoying, but overall I enjoyed giving her what she wanted.

Well, one night, I forgot to turn Amazing Amy off. All night, Amy kept asking for food, to play a game, to get her hair brushed. I was knocked out sleep. Well, Amy cried. She cried so loudly, it sounded like an alarm clock piercing through the night. She woke me up at 4:00 AM so that I could change her diaper, feed her, and play games with her. Then she glitched, so she started crying AGAIN! When I turned her around to turn her off, the button was stuck on “ON”! I tried taking out her batteries, but it was hard for my little hands to get the back open. So, she cried.

Eventually, frustrated, I snuck in the kitchen, picked out a fork, and pried out her batteries. Once those batteries were out, I never put them back in again.

The next day, I was so tired I couldn’t stay awake at school. My mother asked me why I was so tired. When I told her Amazing Amy kept me up all night crying, my mother laughed and said, “Imagine a real baby! But with your own, you can’t just take the batteries out!” That statement stuck with me.

So, now, every time I even think of having a kid, I think about how hard it was for me (at the time) to take care of that annoying, expensive little doll. Now, that I’m older, I’m wiser, but I still understand that taking care of a child is no glamorous or easy task. Amazing Amy definitely taught me that at a young age. Whenever my friends would say they wished they had a baby sister or a baby, my mind would flash back to this doll.

In some ways, I’m glad it taught me to take parenthood seriously. But when I’m interacting with others who really want children, I might not sound the most positive.

 

4. Barbie

Barbie has impacted thousands of girls the world over, including this girl.

Barbie is the world’s #1 fashion doll. Created by Ruth Handler while on vacation in Germany, and produced by the company Mattel, her husband’s company, Barbie was meant to be a challenge to the Baby doll industry and a response to the growing love of adult paper dolls. Ruth Handler wanted to create an actual plastic figure of famous comic and paper doll characters because she noticed her daughter preferred them to the baby dolls.

At the core, Barbie was meant to be a doll young girls could admire and dream of being one day. She fit the American ideal: white, blonde, beautiful, stylish, wealthy, glamorous, and forever young.

I grew up with her in the 1990s when she’d already had a huge empire and had expanded beyond the fashion world. Barbie could do and be anything by the 1990s! That’s the vision they sold us.

This blonde adult figure inspired a lot of playtime out of me growing up. I would always pretend she was my mother. She reminded me a lot of her. My doll was white and my mother was black, but they both were stylish, career-oriented, and could do things I couldn’t at my age.

Interestingly enough, Barbie’s fashion sense never appealed to me. I didn’t like her for her fashion. I liked her for all of the mini items she came with. For example, my Teacher Barbie came with a chalkboard, mini chalk, and desks. I always thought it was cool how I could create my own classroom in a mini-sized version.

So how did Barbie come to influence who I am today? How did she influence a messy tomboy like me?

It might shock you, but Barbie ushered me into the technology age. Yeah. She also expanded my interest in dolls. I have to give her credit for this.

When we first got a computer in my home, one of the first websites I knew about was Barbie.com from commercials. I can’t find that commercial anymore.

The jingle went like, “What can you be there, what can you see there? Now you can be there, uh-huh…” Something like that.

Anyway, Barbie encouraged me to navigate the internet. It was the first website for dolls I’d ever heard of.

Barbie also introduced me into video games. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I had always watched my young uncles and cousins play video games, but I didn’t have a system or games of my own. My mother and grandmothers didn’t think it was a suitable toy for “girls”. I would try to play games like Mortal Combat and NBA Sports at Arcades or at restaurants or laundromats.

But when I first got my playstation, the first game I played was Barbie Race and Ride. By playing this game, I learned the mechanics of the playstation system. Eventually, I moved on to more advanced games from there. I loved Crash Bandicoot and Spyro games, Tekken and Street Fighter, and eventually RPG games like Kingdom Hearts. It was because of Barbie that I fell in love with video gaming. I still love video games to this day.

I also used to play Barbie Super Sports (which was a little more challenging than Race and Ride) and Detective Barbie. The most fun Barbie video game I played was a PC/CD-Rom game called Secret Agent Barbie. That was my first PC game. I wish I could still play that game. It’s not compatible with anything nowadays.

In all honesty, Barbie made me into a gamer girl!

Barbie also got me interested in diverse and unique dolls. A lot of dolls have claimed to have been the first major diverse dolls out there, but Barbie has always had sister and spin-off brands that focused on a group of diverse dolls. Generation Girl was about 8 best friends from different backgrounds and cultures who attend International High. Diva Starz was also a diverse brand, and probably the first I saw with the big head and big feet design. Polly Pocket was innovative. Myscene was stylish and mature. Even to this day, Barbie’s sister brands Monster High and Ever After High continue to produce diversity. Going to Barbie’s website, I was able to get in touch with the other lovable brands.

Barbie’s mini world inspired me to look for more out of my collections. She pretty much set the bar for how far a doll line could expand. Barbie has had it all. I can only be impressed by how much this doll brand has accomplished for over 50 years. It’s amazing. The appeal of Barbie was that I could be in a lavish mini world I wouldn’t naturally be able to afford in real life. I could be anything when I had Barbie.

Barbie developed my interest in building a career, believe it or not. I always had working women around me. I didn’t have the privilege of a stay-at-home mom. My mother had to work. Barbie made that seem okay for me. Through Barbie, I could always pretend she was in a career. She had so many career options in the 1990s. I believe she inspired my ambitious nature.

Barbie may have had an influence on me, but she didn’t turn me into a materialistic and superficial broad. She may have done that to some kids, but not me.

Little did I know I would take this influence and drive it towards a rival brand…

 

3. Magic Attic Club

Oh, The Magic Attic Club. This club was like the Babysitters Club of the 1990s, only it dealt with magic and younger girls. But it was the club every girl wanted to be in. Magic Attic Club inspired me in many ways but also taught me valuable lessons. Let me explain.

Magic Attic Club was following that “18” doll” format. They were sold by mail order catalogue, were expensive, and exclusive. They were cheaper than American Girl though. Unlike American Girl, Magic Attic Club was a modern and more fantastical line. They came with a series of books that followed the characters’ adventures through a magic mirror that would allow the characters to explore their imagination. The adventures they would go on would also teach them how to deal with their everyday life (though the things they go through might seem minor).

Magic Attic Club dolls passed through the hands of many companies before retirement. They were first sold by Georgetown. They filled the gap American Girl didn’t fill at the time: They produced modern girls (while American Girl still primarily sold historical dolls). Eventually, Magic Attic Club went to Knickerbocker and last Marian (which was a company created by actress Marie Osmond and her husband Brian).

Magic Attic Club influenced my life in five ways.

First, Magic Attic Club got me interested in the fantasy genre. Magic Attic Club was able to be and do anything, at 10 years old. I was always excited about whatever adventure they would go on. And the outfits they came with! They were just bursting with color and luxury!

I think the mystery behind the Magic mirror was so intriguing that I longed for that mystery in other genres. To this day, my interest in the fantasy genre has expanded. I enjoy Harry Potter, Circle of Magic, Jewel Princesses…I got into a lot.

Second, Magic Attic Club made me realize indigenous people still EXIST, not as a foreigner but in my own country. Yes, I was an ignorant little child back then. I used to see indigenous groups as groups belonging to the past. I didn’t realize that there were still people from these groups, even little girls like me, living modern lives while trying to hold on to their ancestry. Rose Hopkins, the Cheyenne girl in the Magic Attic Club, taught me that. To this day, there are still very few doll lines that have a modern doll representing the indigenous groups of people. Ever since I was introduced to Rose, I have felt she was a rare gem, and I have looked for that kind of representation in every doll line. Rose is also one of the most gorgeous dolls in the brand.

Global Friends also had an indigenous doll, but at the time, it didn’t dawn on me that the character was “American”. Unfortunately.

Third, Magic Attic Club taught me to shut my mouth and stick with real friends. When I was younger, about 8 years old, that was the one time in my life I wanted to fit in with the other girls. I had so many popular girls in my class. They were kind of mean and stuck up to some of my friends. I used to be like a loser or an outcast because I would hang out with the underdogs.

But one day, I had been talking about the Magic Attic Club. All the “cool” girls liked Magic Attic Club because of how exclusive and pretty the dolls were. These girls found out I loved Magic Attic Club, knew a lot about the dolls, and let me be apart of their clique because of it. Me, being a fan of Magic Attic Club, would share fan info with these girls, insider knowledge. At that time, they were giving me some attention, and I liked it.

Eventually though, that died down. They started cooling off from me. I guess all they had in common with me were these dolls. So what did I do? I came up with the biggest and stupidest lie. I told them that my grandmother works for the company that makes Magic Attic Club dolls and that she could get them dolls for free.

After that, the girls came back around me.

But see, I had to keep up with this lie. The girls kept pressuring me and asking when they would get their free dolls. I had to keep pushing back the date to make it believable. Eventually, one of the lead girls got suspicious. She came up to me and said, “I don’t believe your grandma works for the company.” I tried to defend my lie. And I managed to defend this lie up until I was 10. I finally confessed that my grandmother didn’t work for Magic Attic Club and that my grandmother just happened to buy me two dolls and books. Obviously, this made me the bum of my elementary school days. I deserved it.

On the other hand, my real friends stayed by me and liked me for who I was. From that Magic Attic Club encounter, I learned that you can’t buy friendship and I learned to shut my mouth. If I can’t speak truth, I don’t need to speak. I learned not to lie about who I am.

The fourth way Magic Attic Club had an impact on me was it actually got me interested in doll fashion. The one thing Magic Attic Club had over all the other 18″ dolls of the time was they were girls my age that wore trendy and modern clothes. They were the first dolls that got me interested in the fashion aspect of doll brands. Beforehand, I just liked the stuff dolls came with. Magic Attic Club had an array of different outfits and clothes, but they were also on trend in my eyes. Barbie was fashionable, but she was an adult. The MAC were wearing clothes I could wear and WANTED to wear. My interest in their fashion expanded my interest in fashion dolls in general (even though they weren’t fashion dolls!).

Last, Magic Attic Club has influenced my summers. Magic Attic Club always reminded me of summers spent with my great-grandmother (who I would visit every summer). When I was younger, I couldn’t afford all of the Magic Attic Club books. However, during the summer, my great-grandmother would take me to the library and I could find all of the MAC books! I would check them all out. The librarian knew which books I would get every summer. Eventually, this turned into a tradition. Every summer, even up into high school, I would check out the Magic Attic Club books and read them.

Eventually, the library closed. I also couldn’t spend as much time with my grandmother. But I managed to buy all of the ones in print (still looking for Jane in a Land of Enchantment). I still read them every summer. Summer doesn’t begin for me unless I read these books. Having the dolls also remind me of those lovely summers.

Overall, the Magic Attic Club dolls have had a profound impact on my life.

 

2. American Girl Dolls

The American Girl dolls come from a brand focused on educating and inspiring girls through play. They come with a line of historical characters and modern characters fleshed out through dolls, accessories, and books. Through storytime, their characters help girls face the real world around them. Honestly, of all the 18″ dolls, American Girl was the first to do this and has always been the most effective at this.

American Girl was originally produced by Pleasant Rowland through Pleasant Company. It was designed to combat Barbie’s influence as an adult figure and bring back dolls that looked more like girls. It also bounced off the popularity of the Little House on the Prairie, which had been popular decades prior due to the TV series. The dolls were meant to help connect girls today with girls of the past, to bridge generations of girlhood, tell history from the female perspective, and inspire future leaders.

Ironically, Barbie’s parent company, Mattel, ended up buying American Girl. American Girl continues to educate and inspire girls.

This company definitely inspired me. I got into American Girl in 1995 with the books I would get from my school library. I received my first American Girl doll in 1997. At that time, the modern girls were just becoming a thing.

American Girl influenced me tremendously. First, this doll brand inspired my love of history. It was the gateway to learning the important events in my country. And as they say, if you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going. I think American Girl encouraged me to appreciate the place I live and even to appreciate the histories of other countries! American Girl made history come alive for me, and made history fun and appealing. In school, I always got As on my history tests. I would win history bees and competitions. American Girl didn’t have all the answers, but they were the only books telling history from an everyday perspective, not from one of those glamorized and over-dramatic perspectives. They would go over things about history I honestly never heard of, like what foods people ate and what clothes they wore. I literally got interested in how people live.

American Girl is the reason I have the job and career I have NOW. I was inspired to get into education. I was inspired to build up my own community of African American children and help them value education. Addy was my first American Girl and she made slavery and reconstruction even more real for me. I’ll never forget when she got her freedom and she still had to build her life. It wasn’t a walk in the park. The books were so real for me, not cheesy at all.

I currently work with black children and I try to get them into their own roots and history. I try to inspire them the way American Girl inspired me. I wanted to give back. American Girl showed me the importance of doing that.

American Girl instilled some really strong morals and character traits in me. I think the brand helped me develop courage, a spirit of adventure, open-mindedness, kindness, compassion, sacrifice, strength, and determination. Whenever I thought my life was hard, I would think about girls who came before me who had it harder. I try to live up to these qualities everyday. I think American Girl helped me see the importance of developing these qualities early in my life.

Having the dolls really made history real for me. I could pretend to be from a different time and place, a different race or culture, and through that playtime, I learned to understand people and I learned to understand life. I’ve learned how to cook foods and prepare them in ways different from my own. I’ve learned to study the way people dress and live. I’ve learned to melt my own prejudices when seeing someone different.

I definitely learned to transcend myself. Perhaps my favorite non-black characters are Kaya, Kit, Molly, and it doesn’t feel like American girl without Felicity. I’m still into the brand and have loved newer dolls like Melody and Julie. I do hope to have a 1920s character soon as well. That’s on my American Girl wishlist. Through these characters, I feel like I’ve lived several lives…

I feel like I’m recording a brand ad or something right now…

American Girl also helped me connect with my elders. By learning about times in the past, I knew about some things my grandmother and great-grandmother enjoyed. My great-grandmother always felt she could talk to me because when she did, I knew what she was talking about and showed interest. It helped me bond with my family. I was able to appreciate doing things with my grandparents and my mother, things a normal child wouldn’t find interest in. I think it helped me respect women of all ages and what they have done for me.

American Girl showed me that women can be strong leaders, and I take the lessons from the brand with me into my adulthood.

 

1. Bratz

Bratz is a brand of cutting-edge and fashion-forward dolls that arrived shortly after the 21st Century began. These dolls were meant to make the beginning of a new century, and they did that for me.

Just when I was losing interest in playing with dolls and was growing into a tween collector, out came the Bratz.

The Bratz were created by designer Carter Bryant (freelance designer on break from company Mattel) and produced by MGA Entertainment.

I got into the Bratz late 2000 when the website was under construction. Most of my followers know the story. I was actually looking for new dolls to get into. Something interesting. I had been looking for a particular doll when I accidently typed in Bratz. When I pressed the link and saw the website under construction, I thought it was going to be some kind of fashion cartoon (which I felt would’ve been awesome).

A few months later, the first Bratz commercial hit the scene and I was a different girl. The rest was history.

You might be wondering, “How can a line of fashion dolls top a girl-empowering line like American Girl?” I didn’t think that could happen either.

At the time I got into Bratz, I was what most people considered “too old” for dolls, especially during the surge of popularity Bratz received in 2004. I was a teenager by then.

The first thing Bratz taught me was that you’re never too old to like dolls. Bratz was set to target girls like me. I soon realized that. When I first heard Bratz was meant to target girls my age, I was shocked and excited. I knew that something different was brewing in the toy industry.

Bratz truly made me a COLLECTOR. I loved dolls before, but the clothing, items, and edge was so inspiring, I actually saved my money and bought even the hardest to find dolls if I could find them. Some items you couldn’t get anywhere.

Bratz exposed me to the toy industry in general. I’m not talking about as a toy but as a business. Bratz was on the rise during the computer age. MGA was one of the only doll companies FULLY open to suggestions back then. I remember I would email Mattel ideas of mine and would get one of those automated responses. I only got one real response and it was pretty rude.

MGA always responded in a very thoughtful and engaging way. And the things I asked for at my age…They delivered! I think after I heard Bratz was releasing a CD in Japan in 2003, I asked for MGA to get a CD created for worldwide release. Shortly after, Bratz’s “Who We Are” and “Bratz Rock Angelz” was released. When Bratz had a show released in Japan to tie in with the CD, I asked for the Bratz movies and shows and got it shortly after! I wouldn’t say my emails made a difference, but by seeing the results, it made me feel like my opinions mattered.

I realized my own fan power in shaping the success of my favorite brand and I brought this fandom power into many other fandoms.

I also realized harsh truths about the doll industry through the Bratz. I think the Bratz business is the only one I’ve followed closely. I’ve seen how a doll line could rival another doll line in sales. I saw how that impacted the direction of toy brands. All of this at age 11 to 17.

I began to see the difference in companies. When I was a kid, companies didn’t matter. I didn’t know Amazing Amy, American girl, and Barbie were even from different companies. They were just toys.

After getting into Bratz, I realized the difference.

I learned the legal system that works around toys as well, especially seeing the legal issues surrounding Carter Bryant, MGA, and Mattel. I learned that just because you created something doesn’t always mean you are allowed to have full rights over the product. That whole situation made me “business-smart”.

Bratz has taught me so many valuable lessons about toys in general.

While American girl inspired the career I’m in now, Bratz is inspiring my future goals. Everytime I see a Bratz doll, I feel inspired to get creative. The amount of detail and coolness that goes into Bratz draws out a lot of ideas in my mind.

Bratz has even inspired my sense of fashion and developed my social identity. I think I told followers that I was raised in a very super-feminine home. It was so suffocating, I couldn’t slouch, spill messes, or accidentally ruffle an ounce of my attire. I used to hate fashion and femininity because of how I was raised.

When I first saw the Bratz, and this may not be anyone else’s experience, I saw girls in baggy pants, beanies, bandanas, and sneakers. The dolls were wearing a diverse range of styles. They didn’t fit into one feminine box. Sure, some wore skirts. But they could throw on a denim jacket and sneakers in a heartbeat. That had an impression on me. I finally felt I found a doll brand that represented someone like me.

Later on, Bratz tried many outrageous styles, which helped me explore all possibilities in fashion and even other forms of art! I had developed an interest in cutting edge and avant-garde fashion. I really began taking a liking to androgynous fashion. As a youth, the Bratz produced an image that encouraged me to be my individual self. They helped me explore my identity.

Bratz has developed me into an adult that is willing to take risks, stand in my truth, and explore my options. I believe these were the last dolls that truly inspired me. Bratz has changed my whole world vision.

Bratz set the bar for this century. For all new dolls, I’m looking for a spirit of individuality, style, and innovation. I take that attitude with anything I do.

That’s my list of dolls that have had an impact on who I am today! Leave me a comment and let me know of any dolls or other toys that influenced you in your youth! What do you think of my list? Let’s get the discussion rolling!

#Bratz 2018: What I Want to See Back and What I Don’t

8 Jul

Yasmin snapped! Let’s hope the doll is as beautiful as the art…

 

Greetings GenNext readers!

I am excited that Bratz are coming back this Fall! WOO! It’s really happening. We’ve been getting a few teasers on instagram that confirm it’s really happening. And of course, I have a few surprises up my sleeve to support the Bratz dolls’ return!

Ever since I started that 2018 article regarding Isaac Larian announcing the Bratz dolls’ return, I’ve been really thinking about the Bratz dolls’ career over the last 17 years. I’ve been reviewing pictures, my dolls, Bratz music, and even press interviews and such, just walking down memory lane. There was a lot about Bratz that just blew me away within that time!

I believe I’ve told people on my Bratz Quiz (How Well Do You Know the Bratz?) article a few years back that I’ve been into the Bratz since the website was under construction late 2000, early 2001-ish. So, I’ve seen a lot come out of the Bratz. I was among those in the target demographic back during the Bratz’s debut, and I’m so glad that I was able to support Bratz for so many years.

There’s a lot that I really loved about Bratz, and of course, I want to see it come back in 2018. So far, I’ve mostly heard good news (like Hayden Williams, a fan favorite designer and illustrator, at least designed one of the Bratz’s lines).

Hayden Williams illustrations

Isn’t Hayden Williams amazing? I can’t wait!

Still, there were a lot of things that bothered me, too.

While there’s a lot of things in more recent years that disappointed me (Bratz 2015 to be exact), there were some things during Bratz 2k that I don’t want to see anymore, either. That’s right. You read right. Let me repeat. There were some things that occurred from 2001 to 2009 that I don’t want to see AGAIN.

Let me break down my “Dos” and “Don’ts” for the Bratz 2018. Many of you might not agree with them, but I’m still going to say it.

If you don’t like reading, skip down and listen to my videos: Skip

I told ya’ll in my last article why I didn’t want to do an article on Bratz too soon. I don’t want to come across negative. XD

DOs

 

Passion for Fashion

Okay, we all know the Bratz girls were developed with other interests. But let’s be real, we love the Bratz because they have a passion for fashion! The dolls showcased bold and fashion-forward style and that’s what I want to see return.

I don’t care what the radical feminists and soccer moms say about them wearing too much makeup. I say BRING IT! I don’t care if they slut-shame them. I say BRING IT!

Though we know designer Hayden Williams is going to deliver that “Passion for Fashion” for an exclusive line, we don’t know how the other Bratz lines are going to turn out.

What I hope to see is Bratz’s urban 2001 sass and design combined with their avant-garde punk attitude. There can’t be one without the other. Bratz should bring a little bit of both.

Four Core Girls and Two Core Boys

I understand why people made a stink about MGA adding Raya as the “fifth core girl” in 2015. After all, it was the original four that made the Bratz brand. Raya was also another blonde character, uninteresting, and just not necessary.

Still, I find it ironic that the same people that hated Raya being added as a core girl keep asking for Meygan and Dana to come back along with the core four. So why even be mad about Raya when Raya was not the first character to be the “fifth” core girl? MGA has been adding “fifth” core girls since Meygan was released in 2002 and Dana released in 2003.

For me, I wasn’t having it then, and I’m not having it now. Stick to the core four. There’s just enough dolls to express solid fashion passion. Too many characters drown out the individuality.

It’s okay to add these girls in there sometimes, but overall, the core girls (and boys) should be the main focus. And they should be in almost EVERY line. The CORE characters should not be replaced by other dolls (which in Raya’s case, at least she wasn’t a replacement, like Meygan and Dana have been in many of the Bratz lines).

I also want to see Dylan return. While it was cute that MGA announced CAMERON on instagram, where’s Dylan? He was one of the few boys of color in the Bratz Boyz line. He NEEDS to come back. They better not think of having a comeback without Dylan.

All the other side characters should be an afterthought.

Bratz Music

You can say what you want about anything else regarding the Bratz dolls, but you can’t deny their albums were filled with BOPS.

I was just going back through their music the other day. From Rock Angelz to Forever Diamondz, they had some cuts. I’m not ashamed. I dance to their music at home, in the car, on the street. I’m ready for it.

This is the one thing they didn’t mess up in 2015. Skylar Stecker did a pretty good job with the theme song “What’s Up?”

Still, I hope they can get Universal back on board for the project. The music sounded polished. All they need are some decent songwriters, and we’re good to go.

A Good TV/Netflix series

Whether it’s live action (like what MGA’s Project MC2 has), Stop Motion (like what they had in Japan in ’03, not Stoopid Studios’s garbage), or CGI animation like what the Bratz had before from 2005-2008, it should be well-written, engaging, and should promote the Bratz characters’ individual charms and styles (unlike the TV series, some of the movies, and the live action movie back in the day, which I’ll talk about later…).

I have a good script going actually, if anybody is interested in picking it up. It’s juicy, and follows the Bratz’s “actual” life. Basically, it’s focused on the “real” story behind the Bratz dolls’ life and career. I aim to make it sophisticated enough for the target demographic (which should be 10 to 14, as it was once before), and fun enough for everyone.

But even if no one is biting for my TV/Netflix script, I really think a future series that highlights all of the characters’ strengths and weaknesses, focuses on things real tweens and teens experience, and has a little drama and adventure would be nice.

Jade’s Original Personality

This is the only thing the 2015 Bratz stop-motion series got right. They brought back Jade’s “extreme” personality traits. In 2001, Bratz dolls weren’t extremely developed back then. We learned a little about them from their profiles about their fashion sense and from the main website, where fans could get a glimpse inside the Bratz girls’ rooms.

Many Bratz fans who got into the fandom in 2002 and beyond didn’t know about the Bratz rooms set up on the main website because the website was changed as soon as Meygan was released. In Jade’s room, she had a skateboard and green alien. This was a sign that Jade was supposed to be a sporty character. You can even look at the 1st Edition Bratz and gather that she’s pretty sporty.

For some reason, those personality traits were given to Cloe in the movie and TV show adaptations. To me, it just didn’t fit Cloe’s “ethereal and angelic” image. Those qualities were clearly meant for Jade. However, because Jade’s personality was considered more empowering, maybe writers thought it would be better to give the BLONDE girl those traits (instead of Cloe’s “head always being in the clouds”, which would’ve made her fit stereotypes).

Or those involved with writing for the Bratz didn’t do enough research.

Though I’m glad Jade maintained her edgy fashion sense in the movies and TV show,  and I like that she had that “geek chic” thing going on in some of these adaptations, I don’t feel that any of the writers, producers, and directors really knew about Jade’s characterization throughout her entire doll career. I really liked that she was developed as both smart and sporty. Why can’t she be both?

I’m hoping that MGA returns Jade back to her original self.

Bratz Video Games

I loved the Bratz video games for the Playstation 2 and I hope there are games released on the PS4 and Xbox One. Those games were entertaining for me. I also think it helped more girls get into video games. This time, though, I hope the UnReal Engine is used for future games. It would be awesome!

Make the Characters SINGLE Again

Cloe and Cameron are cute and everything, but their relationship kind of made playtime limited. Kids couldn’t put the characters they wanted together. People couldn’t take photos of Cameron with Yasmin, Cloe with Eitan, or Cloe with Yasmin and post them online without someone saying, “No, their boo is ___.” I think “shipping” should be open.

I also really liked the line Secret Date. Unfortunately, with Cameron being so heavily shipped with Cloe, lines like that are impossible now.

Still, I would like the Bratz to be single, available, and just dating and having fun in their Teen or young adult lives. I hope it returns.

It should be open so people can see any Bratz character with any Bratz Girl or Boy they want to see them with. I mean, you can do that already without regard to the adaptations, but the “fixed” coupling would make it harder to post pictures with your favorite couple without people making comments about who should be together.

Movies Like Bratz Passion for Fashion Diamondz, Bratz Genie Magic, and Bratz Fashion Pixiez

Even though these movies weren’t realistic, they were fun. There was a spirit of adventure and magic that made them fun to watch. I especially liked the suspense and mystery in Passion for Fashion Diamondz, even if the ending was a bit predictable. Movies like this also made the lines themselves more appealing.

These movies also included the soundtrack songs in them.

I still do think that adaptations should be a little more realistic and should focus more on trials real teens are going through, but I would also like more adventurous movies. With a movie, you have to entertain an audience for an hour or two.  You might as well make it fun.

Boyz Lines

I hope to see more lines just for the Boys. I do believe that Bratz should mostly focus on the girl dolls and should focus on building female bonds. BUT I also liked that the boys weren’t just “boyfriends” to the main characters. They had their own “passion for fashion” thing going on. It made them seem more individual and less like “Ken dolls”.

It seems Cameron is the only doll that has been re-released since 2015, and he really got the “Ken” treatment back during the 2015 revamp (being only released in the Funk N Glow line as Cloe’s boyfriend). I mean, I’m not whining because at least he’s back. Still, I would like to see the boys break out a little and be a little different from the other boy dolls out here.

Good Hair

Back in the day, the first Bratz dolls had really good strong hair. They had quality hair. It made their hair shine and it made hairstyles look so polished on the dolls. It could also get wet without problems.

But after awhile, it seemed like they started putting cheaper hair on the dolls. I really do hope they bring back that good hair.

I also hope Sasha starts wearing her hair more natural, kind of like how she wore her hair in Style It and Dance Crewz but possibly more natural than even those styles.

I would also like to see some real hairstyles return. Around 2005 and 2006, it seemed like the hair styles got more and more flat. When the Bratz were first released, their hairstyles were diverse and unique. Later, they all just had their hair straightened with some color.

I hope the amazing hair returns. I’m not saying it’s mandatory, as I would just like the diverse fashion, especially because the hair will probably come down anyway. But I really liked it as a collector. The hair was inspiring.

 

 

 

DON’Ts

 

Closmins

If ya’ll thought the Tweevils got on your nerves on the Bratz TV series, the Closmins irked me more. Since 2003, we started seeing how blonde white Cloe and racially ambiguous Yasmin (though in reality, we all know she was meant to be Iranian but whateva, they used the “Hispanic” thing to get her to sell better) started getting all the love. And I know these two are a lot of your faves, so you may not like what I’m about to say.

But the rest of us Sasha and Jade fans were incensed. How dare they kick out the real dolls of color?

That isolation grew and grew until we hardly saw Sasha and Jade in major lines.

Don’t believe me? How about I bust out a list:

  • (2003) Big Bratz (Limited Collectors’ Edition)-Cloe, Yasmin, Meygen (where’s Sasha and Jade?)
  • (2004) Wild Life Safari – Cloe, Yasmin, Meygan, Nevra, Fianna (Don’t let that TV series fool you. Jade and Sasha would’ve OWNED this line. Screw Nevra and Fianna. They look alike anyway!)
  • (2005) Birthday Bash– Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Phoebe (No Jade)
  • (2005) Campfire – Cloe, Yasmin, Dana, Phoebe, Felicia (I love Felicia and everything, but why couldn’t we have two black dolls in one line? Ya’ll don’t care to add Nevra and Fianna in the same freakin’ lines, and they look more alike)
  • (2005) Dynamite – Cloe, Meygan, Nevra (We don’t even have Yasmin in this line. Cloe is the only one in the line from the core Bratz. You trying to give us a “Barbie” type of tease?)
  • (2005) Fabulous Las Vegas – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Tiana (Jade? Jade? Where are you?)
  • (2005) Hollywood Style – Cloe, Yasmin, Dana, Phoebe, Katia (Wow, no Black girls belong here, huh? No Black girls in Hollywood?)
  • (2005) I-Candy – Cloe, Yasmin, Phoebe (More Closmins)
  • (2005) Midnight Dance – Yasmin, Meygan, Fianna (Yas is the only girl from the core here)
  • (2005) Ooh La La Paris – Cloe, Dana, Kumi (More Cloe)
  • (2005) Play Sportz – Cloe, Yasmin, Sasha, Meygan, Fianna, Roxxi (Where’s Jade again?)
  • (2005) Wild Wild West – Cloe, Yasmin, Meygan (with horse), Fianna, Kiana (Closmins)
  • (2005) Pretty N’ Punk – Cloe, Jade, Yasmin, Meygan (See the Bratz Rock Angelz movie gave you the illusion that Sasha was involved. Nope. So what, MGA? Sasha can’t be punk? A Black girl can’t be punk?)

2004 and 2005 were Bratz’s biggest years, and yet Sasha and Jade didn’t get to enjoy the limelight. One can argue that maybe the years were bigger because Jade and Sasha weren’t in the lines, but based on online polls, at least Jade was considered the second most popular Bratz doll. Why was she omitted from all of these doll lines?

Bratz info to support series (2)

This isn’t even adding the fact that Cloe dominated all the solo “special editions” and the fact that only Yasmin and Cloe got outfits from the live action movie made for the dolls! So Cloe and Yasmin were the only ones meant to have that Bratitude?

Sasha and Jade only showed up for the “flagship” lines, the ones that were being highlighted in movies. They showed up just to confuse us. But they weren’t fooling petty fans like me. I didn’t miss a heartbeat.

And it wasn’t cute. If you are going to bring back the Bratz, don’t cater to the colorist side of the Bratz fandom. Please allow people to enjoy Sasha and Jade’s individual colors and unique physical traits. If Sasha isn’t outselling the other girls, give Sasha bomb outfits you can’t find on Yasmin or Cloe. Make her appealing. But don’t take her out completely because she isn’t white or “mixed” enough. That’s not 2018-ready.

And I know you think Jade can just be replaced by any brunette that looks similar, but you’re absolutely wrong. We need more Asian representation in media and entertainment. It’s bad enough they get “white-washed” out as it is. Bratz is supposed to be a line celebrating diversity. Show us you aren’t like Barbie by doing that.

If I see it again, MGA, you and I are going to have a nasty exchange. Well, not too much of a nasty exchange because I do love MGA, but I will have some words.

The Closmins reveal the fact that these “fifth core girls” did nothing but divide up the main four core girls. This is why I don’t want anymore core girls. These other characters should either be an extension of the four core or not in the line at all.

Bratz TV Series

I know what you 2005 Bratz fans are thinking: “WHAT? I LOVED the series! It’s what brought me into the Bratz! And I ship Cloe and Cameron and want to see what happened next!”

That’s where I clash with the fandom. That’s why I’m scared. Most of the fans want to see this series actually return.

Most of the people who fell in love with the Bratz through the Bratz series were probably way younger than me when that series came out. A lot of people say “The series was my childhood”. By the time that series came out, I was a teen fan of Bratz and a collector rather than player. Maybe I was too old to be into Bratz in some people’s eyes, but I still loved the dolls and wasn’t ashamed.

While I loved that the animation sort of brought the dolls to life and promoted the brand, there were a lot of things about that series that bothered me, and it wasn’t just the plot holes, lack of wardrobe changes, and corny script. In fact, that’s what I actually liked about it. All of those things gave it a cartoon-y charm.

The bad part, to me, is that I believe the series is the reason we even got the CLOSMINS in the first place.

The first thing I hated about that series when it first began is that it took the Bratz Rock Angelz model (yes, I hated that movie, too) and made Cloe the narrator and lead character. Mind you, Bratz was originally a line meant to differ from Barbie, where the blonde chick got most of the shine.

Yasmin was the first Bratz doll and the original darling of the brand. So why Cloe?

Fox Entertainment, the distributor of the series, put more emphasis on ditzy and dramatic Cloe, giving her a beautiful steady love interest and an empowering personality (a personality stolen from Jade to make her more appealing, by the way), and less emphasis on the viewpoints of the other characters.

Though Yasmin was dethroned as the lead, she did get the best treatment in the series, being designed as this sweet and loving animal lover. The change didn’t really hurt her popularity.

What did Sasha get written as? A loud-mouthed, selfish control freak who wasn’t attractive to anybody but herself. I believe Sasha’s character in the series is why she was always voted as the least popular Bratz among the core in polls back in the day (and this is aside from the fact that people already have a negative opinion about dark skin, especially overseas).

And Jade just got all the leftover personality traits.

In fact, they completely changed Jade’s character. It’s not really the series’ fault. I blame Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin. Still, they took from that movie, which made me dislike the series even more.

I do not EVER want to see a Bratz series like this again. You all can come at me for it. I’m ready.

If it does return, I hope the wrinkles are ironed out.

Bratz Movies like Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin, Bratz Rock Angelz, and Bratz the Movie

I didn’t hate these movies overall, but there were some things that bothered me. The reasons I dislike these Bratz movies are the same reasons I disliked the Bratz TV series.

First of all, I did not like some things in Bratz the Video: Starrin and Stylin. I know many people didn’t like the movie overall. At the time of release, some people felt the animation was outdated and cheap-looking. For me, I actually liked the animation because it reminded me of the commercials. I truly like 2-D animation. I liked the story-telling, too. I think it was more realistic than the other movies.

What I hated about it was how the characters were written. This was the beginning of the destruction of the Bratz characters in my opinion. When the Bratz dolls were first released in 2001, they weren’t developed with any particular personality traits, just “fashion passions”. These “fashion passions” sort of highlighted their personalities, but not directly. So, anyone could kind of make-up their own personalities for the characters. However, there were other signs about the characters’ personalities on the main website, which apparently many Bratz fans (and these writers and developers) never visited. If you looked in their bedrooms, you could see their different interests. I wish I could show you all, but you can’t even get into this website now, not even on Wayback Machine.

Okay, I admit, I was one of the main people begging MGA to make a movie for the Bratz characters to flesh out their personalities. Stupid me.

Starrin and Stylin and the book series that inspired the movie didn’t consider the website. I personally was looking forward to a sporty and edgy Jade with a passion for fashion. Basically, a non-typical fashion girl. That’s not what Starrin and Stylin gave me. In fact, her whole sporty appeal was wiped from existence.

What’s more? Sasha was given the worst personality in the group. She was characterized as a “control freak”.

Bratz Rock Angelz bit off a little bit from the original movie. They brought back the relationship between Cloe and Cameron (only they made them childhood friends, when technically Yasmin and Cameron were, but we’ll talk…). Sasha was still a control freak, and now was also selfish and pushy. They brought back Jade’s “ultimate fashionista” persona, which I already didn’t like.

But what really killed me is that Bratz Rock Angelz COMPLETELY SWAPPED Jade and Cloe’s lives. And when I say literally, they even switched their OUTFITS. You know why this angered me? Because Jade’s outfit was actually one of the best sold in the line. It appealed the most to punky tomboys like myself. It gave Asian persuasion Jade an image that could help her become more popular.

What did Fox Entertainment go and do? They gave it to CLOE. And it was weird. It looked like Jade was talking with Cloe’s voice.

Yes, I’m a petty fan. I do not like when adaptations deviate from the source material. I hate this because everything that I like about something can be altered in-brand because of these adaptations. It overall affected the brand.

The worst part is the Rock Angelz movie is actually popular among the fans. Ugh.

To add insult to injury, Bratz Rock Angelz took away the emphasis on Yasmin, the original lead character, and decided they would tell the story through the eyes of the BLONDE. Why did I ever think Bratz could be different from Barbie when Fox pulls this crap with the Bratz?

Bratz Rock Angelz eventually spun into that wack-attack TV series that highlighted all of the negative changes.

Why did I even watch it? The Bratz Rock Angelz album was released before the movie. After that amazing album, I thought the movie would touch on all the subjects covered in the music, which actually would’ve made a compelling story. Not only did the movie completely miss everything in the album, only ONE song from the album was present in the movie.

And if those movies weren’t bad enough at jacking the Bratz up, here comes Bratz the Movie, the Raspberry-award winning live action based off of the dolls. While I loved most of the actors in the film, the film was obviously designed to capitalize off of the High School Musical craze. We’ve got a Sharpay look-alike, plenty of musical numbers, and friends torn apart because they belong to the wrong clique.

But the worst part about the movie is the white-washing of DYLAN. Dylan was clearly meant to be BLACK (at least bi-racial). This Bratz Boy has come with braids and dreads in his hair! He has been released with dark brown skin at many times. Even former characterizations of him, such as in the first Bratz movie, highlighted him as BLACK.

What did the live action movie do? They cast a white boy for his role. I took issue with that.

Overall, MGA would do us all a favor if they avoided white-washing the Bratz brand to appeal to colorist fans (and you know who you are).

2015

Don’t do this again. Don’t. Do. It. Again.

There is no room for goo-eyed, tacky, uninspired, and sweet-faced Bratz dolls. Not now, not EVER.

Lawsuits

We all know that once the Bratz dolls come back, there will be a lot of copy-cats. We know all the doll companies want to create dolls that make a statement like the Bratz did. We need to just accept that there will always be imitations.

What we don’t need are more lawsuits coming from MGA. Really, because of all of those lawsuits from 2004 to 2009, MGA wasn’t able to really focus on the Bratz, and that affected the dolls. It affected the quality of the brand and Bratz were almost legally removed from shelves because of those lawsuits.

We need to leave the confrontational attitude back in 2k. Moving forward, we need to focus on making this brand the best it can be. I really don’t want another issue to rise up where we’re losing some of our MGA team because they all work hard to make their dolls successful.

Painted On Clothing

I forgot to mention this. We need to leave the painted-on leggings and stockings back in 2k. Looking at Bratz lines like I-Candy, Ooh La La Paris, and Star Stylez, I don’t like that someone decided it would be cute to paint on clothing instead of actually taking the time to design mix-and-match fashions!

I understand it’s cheaper than actually producing high-quality materials. I understand that it’s easier for kids because it’s harder to lose something that’s painted on and harder to swallow as well. There was also probably an issue with resources to fun some of these high quality items.

In all fairness, they probably wanted I-Candy girls to have stockings, but real fabric stockings with painted on shoes would’ve looked odd. So, I understand.

But it really also made mixing and matching outfits challenging. I mean, you could mix-and-match all you want, but there would be some awkward leg coloring peeking out.

If you’ve got an I-Candy Bratz doll, you know that these dolls would look awkward wearing any other outfits besides the ones they have on. Maybe that was the purpose, so that people would see the distinction in this line, but it’s just not fun.

Recycled Clothing from Sister Brands

This was a big problem for me. When Bratz Party Cloe was released, it was easy to tell that she was wearing leggings recycled from the Moxie Teenz line. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but they looked awfully similar…

It was almost like Bratz got whatever was left over from the  Moxie Teenz collection. I mean, MGA admitted in 2010 they rushed to bring the dolls back to shelves, so I guess they just put whatever they could find on these dolls. Still, I hope we’re not ever in that situation again.

I just hope that Bratz isn’t going to be “borrowing” from their sister brands this time around. Don’t get me wrong. I do like Project MC2 well enough, but I just feel the Bratz need to be distinct from them. Those girls are cute and everything, but just not the Bratz. If I can find the same outfits on a Bratz doll that I can find on the Project MC2 dolls, why buy the Bratz, ya know?

 

So that’s my list of Do’s and Don’ts. What are some things you Bratz fans want to see return? Do you agree with my list or not? Leave me a comment and we can get the discussion rolling!


Check out my video versions:

Want to create translation for your country or want to make adjustments to the above videos? You can!

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MGA’s CEO, Isaac Larian, Said, “Bratz Are Coming Back the Fall of 2018!” Can the Bratz Deliver This Time?

30 Jun

 

 

Greeting Readers! This is Gen Next!

I know I haven’t talked about the Bratz in eons. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with my Girls with a Passion for Fashion!

In fact, I have been hard at work preparing for their return. I intend to have a strong hand in the comeback this year. Why? Because I see that the Bratz dolls still have the potential to make their mark on the toy industry. I’ve got quite a few things in mind.

Three months ago, I sent MGA’s inventor team a 13-page proposal stating all of the things I feel the Bratz brand needs. That may have been overly-ambitious, and possibly overstepping my boundaries, but I feel better now that I’ve said what I wanted to say.

So, I’ve been busy with Bratz, don’t you worry.

I’ve had some readers ask me if I’ve heard about the Bratz’s comeback in 2018, and I have.

Why have I been silent? Two reasons: 1) I wanted to wait to do a major article on the brand when the comeback officially releases. 2) I didn’t want to repeat rumors and over-hype the brand just to let myself and others down. 3) I have several concerns regarding the comeback, and I didn’t want my negativity to rub off on the hopefuls.

As for number 2, I have this tendency to get super excited about a brand, to place all of my ideas out there, and I try to get others on-board, too. In the end, my expectations soar way too high. In 2015, I was really let-down by the Bratz dolls.

Read my article: Bratz Are Back Again in 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure the Bratz truly WERE going to come back this year. Companies often say one thing, it doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen. Delays happen, too. The toy industry has been suffering. Even Toys R ‘Us took a hit. I wasn’t sure if Mr. Larian could make this happen and I didn’t want to recklessly post my thoughts on it too quickly.

What changed my mind now? Well, I’m starting to see some extremely promising little updates happening.

We all should know by now that Isaac Larian has been hinting at the Bratz comeback since last year. He basically said “Bratz are scheduled to release this fall”.

The fall quarter is basically around the corner now.

We’ve also got some teaser Instagram posts lately:

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Happy 17th birthday to the Bratz!

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Exciting things are coming.

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Keep being patient… it takes time to look this good.

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With all of this, I have every reason to be excited… but concerned, too.

I’m excited because it’s time for a doll brand like Bratz to come back to shelves. I’ve been through toy shelves recently to find inspiration, and diversity is seriously lacking. Even Disney’s dolls and brands are so white-washed.

Dolls are so….boring nowadays, too. They don’t have flash. Most come with cheap clothes, one outfit, and no accessories. Everyone is afraid of makeup. They are so busy trying to appeal to feminist social agendas, they fail to actually interest anyone.

The last time Larian said the Bratz were “coming back better than ever”, we got 2015 Bratz, the goo-goo eyed dolls with a sweet touch.

One of my concerns deals with retailers. Since Bratz’s debut, retailers have had so much control, they managed to alter many of the Bratz dolls’ older lines. Carter Bryant, the original designer of the Bratz dolls, mentioned that retailers’ opinions, especially the Market buyers at Walmart, are what led to the alterations of Bratz Fashion Pixiez (and I’m certain other lines as well). They couldn’t handle Bratz being so edgy, sassy, and fierce.

Now, retail chains are suffering. With the closing of Toys R’ Us, and the power of Walmart and Amazon, what will be sold has completely gone into the hands of these major retail giants. Without their approval, Bratz can’t return to the shelves. Does that mean Bratz may have to sacrifice some original ideas in order to be marketable to these giants? And can Mr. Larian sell the Bratz to these “family-friendly” retailers?

I did offer a different suggestion in my 13-page proposal, but I’m not sure they will really consider these ideas, and I’m not expecting them to. I’ve offered different ideas before the release of the last “re-launch” in 2015. None of those ideas were used, though all of my ideas were given a “thumbs up” when I posted them on Facebook. I have no doubt they tried to implement my ideas, but if retailers didn’t like it…Well, that’s that.

Talking to Carter Bryant back in 2015 has given me a lot of insight and has taught me one thing about the doll industry and creative property in general: You can create what you want, it doesn’t mean you have power over what you create.

Carter Bryant has helped me realize how powerful retailers are in the posts he made on my blog:

Carter Bryant has shown us that Walmart buyer Lori was responsible for a lot of the edgiest lines being dumbed down significantly. Walmart is one of the leading supermarket chains in the USA. Their buyers decide what gets sold on their shelves. They buy the product, sell it at their stores, and get a percentage of the profits.

She’s an older lady, and to me, she seems to favor Barbie. I mean, it’s not unexpected. She probably grew up with Barbie. Bratz probably rattled her cage. I’m not sure if she is still a toy merchant with Walmart, but whoever is will decide what happens with Bratz, and if she is still the primary girls’ toy merchant, we are in trouble.

So, despite the fact that Isaac Larian wants to bring out a doll line that’s “like no other”, would he really have the power to do it? I do have one solution to this problem, but will Bratz’s marketing team consider my idea a good one? Will that idea be enough?

Then, there’s the issue with the generation itself. Do girls even play with dolls anymore? Would they even BUY the dolls? Girls today have shown some interest in toys, but far more interest in technology. Children are more sophisticated than they were 10 years ago, and more girls reject traditional femininity than they used to ten years ago. Will they see Bratz as an outdated brand? Will they see Bratz as a brand that promotes superficial values and reject the brand as a whole?

Last, I’m concerned about feminist and mommy bloggers as well. Will they tear the brand down and influence their “soccer mom” supporters to help them?

There’s a lot to be concerned about.

Despite how negative I might sound, I am fairly optimistic about TWO things.

For starters, I’m optimistic about the Bratz brand’s quality. Lately, Mr. Larian seems to have come across some cash, which might be good for the overall quality of the Bratz brand. He offered to buy Toys R’ Us AND he’s offered to merge with Mattel, his original competitor! He seems well-equipped to polish the brand this time.

Article on MGA’s ambitious desire to merge with Mattel

He’s seen some success from his LOL Surprise brand. Project MC2 seems to have a steady beat. And both of Isaac Larian’s children have invested in their own brand, Cult Gaia, which brings the family more wealth. He seems pretty confident that he will reap even more profits from his planned Bratz return. So, who knows what he has up his sleeve.

Hopefully, this businessman has hired the right team and is ready to bring Bratz into the future full-force! But until then, I won’t be posting some of my ideas or hopes for the brand. I’m literally “cleansing palates of expectations”. For now, I will just sit back and wait until it all unfolds.

Second,I’m also excited to learn that Hayden Williams, a fashion designer and illustrator who was rumored to be hired to assist with the design of Bratz, actually WAS hired. This means MGA is at least considering the fans’ expectations for the brand. Hayden Williams has officially tweeted me to confirm that he is one of the Bratz designers!

Hayden Williams Response

At one time before this update, I wasn’t sure Hayden wouldn’t be interested in being a designer for MGA because it might mean he would lose his freedom as a designer.

Turns out, he’s doing a collaboration with MGA, so he will be free to work as he pleases. His dolls will be Amazon collectors’ exclusives available this fall!

I’m excited to know that MGA recognized his talents and vision.

Have you all SEEN his work? Check him out on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hayden_williams/?hl=en

The best part about the release of these dolls is that they will be available ONLINE ONLY (for now). One of my other concerns was that I wasn’t sure Hayden would really be on-board with designing (despite most Bratz fans’ desire to have him design for the dolls) because I was afraid retailers would try to restrict his freedom if the dolls came out too edgy. I was afraid retailers might be skeptical to buy the Bratz because of their reputation, and that Hayden would have to curb the Bratz’s stylishness. One of my suggestions in my 13-page proposal was for Bratz to be sold online if retailers got funky. Glad to know MGA got the same idea.

I don’t think Amazon will restrict the design of the dolls as bad as other retailers (considering they don’t seem to be biased in what they allow to be sold on their website). Hayden said on his own Twitter:

Hayden Williams Tweets

MGA gave him the freedom to really give his all to these dolls. That’s all us Bratz fans really want!

Still, I hope all retailers recognize this brand’s ability to bring back consumers’ interest back to toy aisles and don’t try to change the image of the dolls to get them there.

Now, here’s where I’m uncertain again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear Hayden Williams is going to be designing all of the Bratz lines. If they do hire others, they better be on par. I believe that Hayden understands the original “Bratz” design best. He said he has been into the Bratz since 2001. We need fans like him that understand what the Bratz were. No offense to fans who came with the TV series, the movies, or when Meygen jumped in ’02, but you have to have known the Bratz their entire career to understand their image and message FULLY. If you believe you can be on par, do thorough research on the brand, backwards and forwards. I believe that’s why the other designers struggled. The TV series and movies changed a lot about the Bratz, which I don’t appreciate (Read or listen to Bratz 2018: What I Want to Return and What I Don’t)…and some of the people who are fans of the brand mostly remember the media entertainment portion of the brand. While it is one part of the brand, there’s more to it.

I really hope they don’t get Project MC2 designers on-board for the Bratz. If they do, we’re going to have another Moxie-Bratz 2010 problem.

Oh, you don’t know? Remember when Cloe’s leggings were recycled from Moxie Teenz? Yes, that problem.

We’ll also get cute, because that’s what Project MC2 is. They’re cute.

The Bratz are not meant to be “cute”. We don’t need designers who think “cute” will make the Bratz better. N-to-the-O.

So far, I have so many mixed feelings about this comeback now. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m happy, I’m nervous. I just don’t know what to think anymore!

Readers and fellow Bratz fans, what do you all think of the Bratz’s upcoming “return”? Do you believe the Bratz will deliver this time? Or do you think retailers and critics will find a way to ruin the brand once again? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Read up on some of my other articles:

How Well Do You know the Bratz? Quiz

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Bratz Music

Bratz Dolls Say Good-bye to the Toy Industry

In case you couldn’t find it above: Bratz 2018: What I Want to See Return and What I Don’t

 

Question: Do these girls look like Bratz dolls or what?

Bratz dolls VS. Feminists: “Oversexualized” or “Empowering”?

16 May

Lately, I’ve been going back into the history of Bratz, where Bratz experienced a tremendous rise in the toy industry and where Bratz took a tumble downhill. As a major Bratz fan, I still have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that these dolls are not going to be produced anymore, that they are discontinued, and that they are no longer popular. In 2016, MGA, the owners of the Bratz doll brand, announced that they were discontinuing the Bratz dolls after a less-than-glorious comeback from their hiatus the year before.

As a way to find a sense of closure, I’ve been researching all kinds of news articles on the Bratz, news that have been out since 2001. I’ve been going back into my own “archives” both online and offline.

In a former article, I reviewed what happened to the Bratz in the last couple of years, based on all the information I have: Bratz Are Back Again in 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

While flipping and clicking through everything, I’ve come to realize that feminists, moms, and Bratz dolls were never far a part from each other, but feminists and moms never really met eye to eye with the Bratz. It doesn’t surprise me that “soccer” moms are against the Bratz. Their name is “Bratz” after all. Parents may have heard the name and assumed that the dolls encouraged their girls to rebel against their parents.

However, I’ve found the Bratz to be a very empowering line of dolls in totality. That’s why it shocks me to read about so many feminists who are really against this doll brand. In fact, many feminists have openly been against the Bratz since debut. Therefore, I’ve concluded that the details that go into the Bratz’s  recent decline in popularity have at least a little to do with active feminists. How so?

Before I get into the details, let’s review how the Bratz came to be, how I got interested in the Bratz, and how (and why) they got so popular in the first place.

Bratz: The Urban Fashionistas

Carter Bryant was the original designer of the Bratz dolls who came up with the idea for the dolls after looking at a Steve Madden shoe ad in Seventeen magazine, photographed by Bernard Belair.

Bryant liked the “cartoonish” yet stylish look of the ad and wanted to create dolls with a similar appeal. To put it simply, Bratz were never meant to look realistic, but they were going to be displayed wearing the latest teen fashions.

Carter Bryant has also shared with me that he was inspired from the urban and punk scenes he always loved. He is an edgy man at heart and wanted to bring that to the Bratz doll line. When he brought the dolls to MGA, Issac Larian, the CEO, was skeptical at first, thinking their heads and feet were weird. But when Larian showed the dolls to his daughter, Jasmin Larian, she thought they were cool. The Bratz doll Yasmin was named after her.

At the Turn of the 21st Century, tweens (kids between the ages of 10 and 14) lost interest in dolls. With pop music spreading around the world, many girls were growing too “old” to be interested in toys (though I’d say it’s worse now than it was then, now that there’s this emphasis on smartphones and tablets). The doll market was experiencing a decline back then just as it is now. Many doll companies were interested in turning the new pop culture trend around in their favor. They wanted to make “up-to-date” dolls specifically for tweens so they could bring them back into the market.

Barbie was dominating the toy market, but by the 1990s, she was considered babyish.

Barbie was also criticized by minority ethnic groups for “lacking diversity” and outshining her more “diverse” friends. To many, Barbie was a sign of “White Supremacy”. After all, she was invented at a very tense racial time (1959).

Since the 1970s, feminist writers began examining entertainment designed for girls. Barbie came under fire several times throughout generations of feminists.

Feminists have been wanting to encourage self-love since then. Barbie was criticized for having unrealistic body proportions (like bigger than average boobs, a tiny waist, super thin lips, full hair, tiny feet, etc), body features that didn’t seem realistically attainable for every woman.

Bratz wasn’t the answer to everything missing in the doll industry (according to feminists), but they did solve the “diversity” problem.

The Bratz were released wearing “urban” fashions, a huge trend among youths at the Turn of the 21st Century since the rise in popularity of African American hip-hop and rap artists and labels in the 1990s. White people had also jumped on the urban trends (thanks to groups like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys). Bratz had bigger lips than the average doll. They wore the “latest trends”, which often included cropped tops, baggy pants, and mini skirts, as well as tons of makeup. The dolls came in a variety of different “colors” and hair textures even if their actual ethnic backgrounds were left ambiguous.

I was a tween at the time of the Bratz debut in 2001, the target demographic. I was one of the children that stopped playing with dolls at 10 years old (thought I still liked to collect them as a hobby). I would say books, video games, anime, and internet consumed my life rather than pop stars and MTV. I still liked certain doll brands, like Magic Attic Club and American Girl, but I never played with the actual dolls. I mostly bought the books, not the dolls. I completely lost interest in the regular Barbie doll (though Generation Girl Dolls peaked my interest for a short time).

To me, as someone who lost interest in playing with Barbies at 10, Bratz were amazing. As an African American, I was happy to see dolls with full lips, full thick hair, and urban fashions commonly worn in my own black community (and not the cookie-cutter suburbanite outfits I often saw on my Barbies as a kid in the 1990s).

That’s why it was perplexing to find that most of the articles kept describing the dolls as “oversexualized” and “materialistic”. I couldn’t understand it at 11 years old. “What’s so sexual about them?” I kept asking myself. Their clothes were cool and urban to me, not sexual. I couldn’t see how baggy pants and beanie caps (included in the 1st edition of Bratz) were even “sexual” in nature. The dolls carried a lot of sass and attitude. They seemed bold and confident to me. The quality was impeccable and very realistic at the time. If anything, these dolls were gender-defying for me! They were not prim, perfect, pink, and prissy. They said “So what!” to fashion norms and boundaries that told girls to be “presentable, lest you tempt the manfolk”.

It truly surprised me to see so many feminists set against the Bratz.

As I got older, I began to understand the feminists’ concerns a little more than I did as a child, but I still don’t agree with many of their assumptions about the Bratz.

Let me give you a little history about myself.

I’m not your typical doll collector. I’m not only an adult, I’m an androgynous tomboy. As a child, I was a complete tomboy. My parents, particularly my mother, would often dress me in dresses, but she was very strict about how I should eat when dressed up, how I had to wear each article of clothing perfectly, and she schooled me on the people I had to please (particularly friends and neighbors). I got verbally (and sometimes physically) assaulted at times for wearing the wrong shoes with the wrong outfit. As I got older, because of these experiences, I began to reject social femininity. When I got more control of my fashion choices, I made sure to avoid dresses and skirts as much as possible.  I became mostly uninterested in clothes and makeup. I prefer to dress comfortably. I became convinced that “femininity” was all about conforming socially, pleasing others, and dressing the part in every situation. Social femininity was translated as “threatening” to me.

So it might make people wonder how I could be interested in such a fashion-conscious doll line like the Bratz.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t see what many of these news journalists and feminists saw in the Bratz. When I first saw the 2001 1st Edition Bratz, I saw their art versions, which displayed four girls in urbanized fashions in the sickest artwork ever. They all wore baggy jeans and sporty crop tops! If anything they looked like tomboys with makeup on!

The clash of femininity and tomboyishness made me feel thrilled and excited. Bratz did renew my interest in fashion, but not as a way to please or impress others. Bratz made me realize that fashion could be used to express oneself, to express ideas, to express art. Bratz inspired me to take my boyish looks to the next level which was why I got interested in different androgynous looks. I became unafraid to look different. I became unafraid of the controversy.

I was an outcast in middle school and high school. I was different. I was not only a tomboy, but a Black girl who enjoyed world music (like Japanese and Turkish music), among many genres including rock and roll, and enjoyed anime and video games. I never dressed up, so everyone thought I was weird. I looked like a 10 year old because I was so petite and never did my hair in the latest styles (which made me look even younger). I wore glasses and didn’t care for contacts. I would wear the same clothes year after year. I didn’t care, as long as they were clean. Many people thought I was a lesbian because I didn’t date in high school. Most of the guys thought I was too skinny to be attractive anyway. I didn’t have curves. When they discovered I wasn’t a lesbian, that confused them even more.

When Bratz were introduced, they were just the kind of thing I was looking for in the world. The Bratz not only renewed my interest in fashion but in the fashion doll industry in general. The dolls also helped me come to terms with my own individuality.

I always loved dolls, even in high school. I didn’t play with them; I just liked collecting them and taking pictures. I collected a lot of 18″ dolls mostly. After the Bratz came out, I was looking for fashion dolls like them. There were few dolls like them though.

I wasn’t ashamed of liking dolls, though I’m certain many teenagers would’ve been. I think after dealing with being forced to fit standards as a child, I had this counter-culturalist in me just waiting to break free. I didn’t think I was feminine at all, and so I rejected it in myself and in others.

Even though they were just dolls, Bratz helped me understand myself. My interest in them revealed something about myself. I realized I hadn’t lost touch with my femininity or my own sense of woman, I just had a different kind and that was okay. I realized that there were many ways to define  “being a woman”.

Bratz helped me at a difficult time, when I felt like I had to fit all of these standards. Unlike me, Bratz could do whatever they wanted to do. They had the courage and bravery, despite the backlash, to just be. It was obvious by their outrageous fashions, their exciting movies, and strong music that they just didn’t care. Much of their music still inspires me, like Bratz Forever Diamondz “Yasmin”‘s “Hang On”.

To me, the Bratz had a very strong empowering message of teaching girls to be confident and comfortable with who they are, no matter what anyone says.

When I saw their outfits, though, they seemed to wear mostly costumes rather than “regular” fashions. They reflected the latest styles with a twist. I was impressed with the detail, the various accessories, and the quality (hair that felt soft and thick, jeans made from actual jean material, etc), as well as the creative and bold themes.

Bratz also set many trends and broke many fashion rules. I liked Bratz because they reflected my own liberation from society’s norms. And at the time, they were the only dolls doing this.

Nowadays, there are many dolls empowering girls in many different ways. Many dolls out today have been inspired from the Bratz. Still, I have a special place in my heart for these dolls because they encouraged me to be bold and different, to be innovative and creative, and to think outside of the box.

My other favorite part about Bratz was that a blonde white girl wasn’t at the center. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with Barbies, too, which I’ll go into further later. But Bratz offered me something I never could let go of, something I could relate to more personally.

Bratz had a variety of different characters eventually, of many shades, with most being dolls of color. I was so happy when MGA released Felicia, an actual dark-skinned doll that was designed beautifully and stylish! Many other Black characters have been in the Bratz franchise as well.

Sasha looks gorgeous in her “natural” hair!

Even though the Bratz dolls came in many shades, Black and Latino culture initially influenced much of the doll brand. From the styles, to the music (as you could tell above), to the full lips and thick hair, down to the urban fashion, Bratz were meant to appeal to a wider ethnic demographic.

In the early 2000s, gangster rap was just sizzling down. Many people outside of the black community (and even some of the old-school generation within) looked down on “urban” fashions and felt it represented “deviant” culture. This is partially why Bratz carried even more controversy at debut. Many people compared them to “urban thugs”. But most of the fashion was widely accepted among black and Latino/Hispanic cultures.

The more rebellious Bratz appeared, the more I loved them. Did it mean I was a bad girl and that I didn’t want to follow any rules? Of course not. But I did recognize that I don’t have to let others define me or decide the type of clothing I needed to wear socially. The Bratz showed me that I can represent alternatives in fashion and let that make its own statement.

Of course, we do have to consider some things socially when picking our clothes, but adding a little creativity and imagination to our wardrobe also adds to our individuality (along with our personalities). Bratz taught me that.

Eventually, Bratz brought in wild lines like Tokyo-ago-go, Space Angelz, Rock Angelz, Pretty N Punk, and many others to the mix. That just gave me more courage to speak out and embrace my individuality.

Some Feminists’ Issues with the Bratz

It baffles me how many people don’t realize just how influential feminists and moms were when it came to the Bratz’s 2015 transformation and sudden decline. Yes, other factors contributed to the Bratz dolls’ decline in popularity (such as the ongoing court battles between Mattel, owners of Barbie, and MGA, owners of Bratz). But the recent comeback, as well as the one in 2010, was obviously specifically “watered down” to appeal to moms and feminists, which didn’t go over so well with many of the fans of the brand.

The moment MGA released the first batch of dolls in 2015, MGA shared a facebook post called New Bratz dolls Tell Girls “It’s Good to be Yourself”. The article states that the dolls give a message that “won’t make parents cringe”. MGA must have realized that moms and feminists didn’t approve of the original Bratz and they wanted to ease the criticisms. Women have a lot of power and influence in the retail industry, believe it or not. MGA posted that article to show how Bratz have become more “innocent” in the last couple of years. They tried to put less makeup on the dolls, they made the outfits cuter, and made the eyes bigger so they wouldn’t look sassy or like they have “attitude”. It still didn’t work. Feminists still felt they were “underwhelming“. All it did was make the fans less interested in them and made the feminists criticize them even more.

The few feminists that are/were supportive of the Bratz have mostly been supportive of Bratz’s ethnic diversity and “ethnic” features (such as large lips, thick hair, and slanted eyes).

But most of these feminists overlook any of the positive regarding these dolls.

After reviewing many articles from feminists about the Bratz, I’ve learned that they take several issues with them (issues I find confusing):

  1. Their usage of makeup
  2. Their “sexualized” clothes and features
  3. Their unrealistic body proportions
  4. Their name
  5. Their “materialism”
  6. Their slogan

These Bratz dolls got an amazing feminist makeover

Tree Change

This artist is giving Bratz an awesome feminist Makeover

Bratz Is Not Happy That I Said Their Dolls Do Molly 

The Unsluttification Of Bratz?

Over-sexed and over here: The ‘tarty’ Bratz Doll

New Bratz dolls Tell Girls “It’s Good to be Yourself”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-411266/Over-sexed-The-tarty-Bratz-Doll.html#ixzz4gPS3FGyI

How to Explain Monster High and Other Hyper-Sexualized Dolls to Young Kids

Now, many of these comparisons are made right alongside the Barbie doll. As mentioned before, feminists’ first gripe with the fashion doll industry came with Barbie. Barbie has been pretty influential in girls’ lives and she has been an icon of fashion and materialism. She has been a staple of femininity for even adult women. Many feminists have examined how Barbie influenced girls and were afraid the Bratz, who seemed to carry some of the same “problems”, would influence girls much the same way.

But here’s where I think some of these feminists miss the mark.

Yes, sometimes girls often imitate their dolls in various ways and grow up to be inspired by these dolls. However, from my experience working with children and being a child during the Barbie and Bratz era, I would definitely say it depends on the context and the way the dolls are presented. It also depends on one’s own life experiences. Barbie and Bratz gave me two different vibes and that influenced my perception of the dolls, myself, and womanhood in general.

I don’t think Barbie and Bratz give a similar message at all. I think the feminists that think they do only know that the Bratz are considered fashion dolls, but know nothing else about them otherwise. These feminists may have seen one or two lines with the Bratz in more “conventional” fashion, but more than likely they didn’t dig deeper than that.

Let me explain why Bratz and Barbie are so very different and how this affects each of their messages to girls.

Bratz Vs. Barbie

I will share the history of both brands a little more because I believe the very inspiration behind the dolls shows how each was meant to affect girls.

As mentioned before, Bratz was designed to represent a “cartoonish” and yet stylish look, while also reflecting underground subcultures in fashion. Their inspiration came from an ad in a teen magazine.

Barbie was thought up by Ruth Handler, a woman who often watched her daughter Barbara pretend her paper dolls were adults. Ruth saw an opening in the market for adult-designed dolls rather than the usual baby dolls and paper dolls available.

When visiting Germany, she saw the Bild Lilli Doll, based off the popular German comic strip character. Bild Lilli was a beautiful bombshell woman who worked but was not above using men to suit her aims. The comic strip and the dolls were designed for adults, but kids would often take the dolls and mix and match her fashion.

Arguably, Barbie is the inspiration for all fashion dolls that came afterwards, so all fashion dolls will be watched by skeptics. But the intention behind the doll is significant when it comes to the art and presentation of the doll.

Barbie was designed to be an adult figure for girls to imagine and aspire to be. Initially, she was presented as an ideal adult female figure (more so from the White upper-class perspective).

I can honestly tell you, as a 6 and 7 year old, that was exactly what I thought of when I played with Barbie. Barbie may not look totally realistic in her proportions, but she looks realistic enough from a child’s perspective, and she looks realistic enough for women to “aspire” to “obtain” her look. Sure, her breasts are bigger than the average woman’s, especially on someone that thin, but breasts like that didn’t seem impossible to me as a child. In fact, Barbie looked like many of the blonde women I saw on Baywatch (which I often caught glimpses of on tv in the 1990s).

Thus, it was obvious in my mind’s eye that Barbie fit a perceived beauty standard.

In my mind, Barbie had several differences from me. She was blonde, tall, white, and wore clothes only the wealthy could wear. I never aspired to be blonde and white like her, however she reminded me of all the adult women around me. I didn’t see too many women who deviated from the “norm” socially as a child. I would always imagine doing what my mother did when playing with my Barbies.

When I played with Barbie, I didn’t see myself, and that influenced how I felt about her as I got older. As I got older, I saw that I was not growing into an adult like Barbie. I began to disconnect with the doll. I saw my mother and everything she was: a glamorous working woman who could do anything she put her mind to.  I didn’t see much substance in Barbie at all, though. And that may imply that I really didn’t see much substance in the women around me. It implies it and it is true.

However, even though I couldn’t relate to her, I admired her pink empire. I longed to live her wealthy, high-class life, a life my broke Black behind would have a difficult time achieving.

In the 1990s, she came with literally everything. But she had no “real” set personality, no real individuality. All of her friends were just ethnic versions of her that you could hardly find in stores. They literally often wore the same outfits as Barbie, though it would sometimes be in a different color.

Yea, her hair seems nicer in the picture, but the actual doll is not the same!

As a kid, I wanted to be more “successful” like her, but I knew that I was too different to want to be like her completely. I wasn’t girly enough to pull of being a Barbie. Many of my other friends wanted to have straight, blonde hair like Barbie. They wanted the perfect body when they grew up, like she had. They wanted to drive pink cars like Barbie. They wanted to live in mansions like she did. They wanted a handsome boyfriend like Ken. Many of them ended up doing those things in the future, perfectly fitting the social package. I can amusingly say that they often look like clones of one another, trying to outdo each other when it comes to the latest trends.

Bratz, in contrast, never had a body to “aspire” to obtain. They literally looked like cartoon characters. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting heads and feet as big as theirs. In fact, big heads and big feet are normally considered ugly in America! The Bratz made it look cool. As someone who had big feet, I appreciated that. But I never heard anyone “aspire” to have a big head or big feet like them. It became clear that their proportions were not designed to fit an “ideal” but rather they literally were made to be disproportionate.

Sure, they were skinny. But their breasts were not large. Even being skinny, no kid would honestly think their bodies are normal enough to pay attention. My friends and I would always make fun of the Bratz heads and feet. We didn’t sigh with envy, that’s for certain. But the outfits were super creative. It was hard not to anticipate what they would think of next.

Each doll was different in some way from the other. Not only were there dolls of various colors, but each doll had their own wicked fashion sense and personality. They were very individual and not outshined by the “white” doll. The four core dolls were treated equally at debut, which I appreciated.

The Bratz were not designed to fit the usual beauty standard. They were meant to reflect the underground cultures, cultures that have developed a sense of community to help them cope with being an outcast. Therefore, in my mind, Bratz produced the opposite response of wanting to “imitate” and rather encouraged individuals like me to be “themselves” and strike out boldly. At 11, I was thinking that if each Bratz girl looks different, and has her own passion for fashion, that means all of us are different. We don’t all have to look and be the same. It encouraged me to find my own unique sense of style, not be the doll I saw in front of me (unlike with Barbie).

Barbie’s other media entertainment, like her movies, showed her as a gorgeous, glamorous lady who could do anything. Bratz movies showed four individual sassy teens who liked to hang out, dress up at times, dabble in their hobbies, and go on amazing adventures. The Bratz never seemed as shallow as Barbie.

Bratz Boyz were a stark contrast to Ken. Though they are all fashion dolls, the Bratz boyz weren’t just accessories for the girls. They had their own lines, several individual ethnic appearances and personalities, many different hair textures and styles, and just as much detail as the girls. Boys were not ashamed to admire them. Girls saw more than just boyfriends in these dolls. In fact, only one of the main characters “crush” on a Bratz Boy. But that boy has his own interests, his own personality, and his own style.

With the differences settled, let’s address these issues feminists have with the Bratz directly.

“Too Much Makeup”

Feminists across the board have been very critical of the Bratz’s overuse of makeup.

Some feminists believe that the Bratz have perfectly made-up faces, which teaches girls that they have to wear makeup to look perfect.

Among feminists, makeup in general has been controversial. Feminists are determined to break the social expectation that encourages girls to be too interested in their appearance. Unlike men, women are often expected to appear perfect, without flaws. This has been linked to women being treated like objects rather than creatures of “substance”. Many jobs around the world won’t hire women or will fire women if they don’t wear makeup. Feminists have been pushing for women to embrace their natural features and colors without a “mask”. They have been pushing for businesses to remove the makeup standards/policies or equalize them (pushing men to also wear more makeup).

One look at the first Bratz dolls, and a feminist would definitely think the Bratz’s usage of makeup further encourages these harsh makeup standards in young ladies. As someone who doesn’t wear makeup, I completely understand this concern.

On the other hand, feminists also preach against body-policing and believe that women should be free to indulge in whatever they enjoy. If a woman truly enjoys makeup, does that make her a product of the patriarchal system and less feminist?

Some feminists recognize that makeup can be used artistically. Many feminists believe that if women truly enjoy makeup, and don’t look at it as a necessary tool to hide their “flaws”, then it isn’t necessarily anti-feminist.

Some feminists don’t think women should be controlled to either extreme considering some companies also control how much makeup a woman wears, which isn’t fair either.

Still, there are feminists out there who believe a real feminist would not support makeup at all and they often do shame women who wear it.

Admittedly, Bratz are designed with a ton of makeup on. However, I think it would be unfair to compare Bratz’s use of makeup to other fashion dolls’ usage, like Barbie’s, or any other usage of makeup that is deemed designed to make someone look “perfect”.

When looking at Barbie, for example, Barbie’s “makeup” has consistently been painted on her face to give her the ideal packaged look for every generation. She is literally considered “gorgeous” with it on. She has the perfectly colored cheeks, darkened eyelashes, and perfectly lined lipstick. Her face is clear of blemishes, moles, freckles, and any other “imperfections” she could possibly have. Her eyebrows are perfectly arched and tweaked. Even the best makeup artist can’t get a real girl’s face that beat. Barbie is plastic perfection. Any girl who admires her will want to be plastic perfection as well. Her made-up beauty fits a conventional standard, yet no woman can ever really look like her 100%. Real women get older. Real women have wrinkles, freckles, beauty marks, moles, scraggly eyebrows, and all the other distinct features. And yet, real women do make themselves up to look like Barbie all the time.

Bratz’s use of makeup is/was entirely different.

For starters, the makeup wasn’t designed to hide any “imperfections”. The Bratz doll Yasmin had a mole under her left eye. Her makeup didn’t hide that mole. Other Bratz dolls had moles and freckles, too.

Though, admittedly, a lot of the Bratz makeup was polished, there were many times their makeup was experimental and could hardly ever really be called “perfect”.

Take Bratz Space Angelz Cloe for example.

What is perfect about her makeup? Nothing at all! Her lipstick is asymmetrical, hardly what I would call “designed to appeal”. It would be fair to argue that anyone who wears their makeup like this is looking for attention, but it’s hardly the sexual or attractive kind. While Barbie’s makeup was clearly created so she could look pleasing out in public, this makeup is hardly what I would call public-friendly.

Any child who imitated this would end up getting stared down by the public, and maybe even teased and mocked. I’m sure most children were/are aware of that. But it’s clear that the makeup is different and unique. Keeping that in mind, it’s easy to see that the Bratz are giving a different message with their makeup. They are showing just how artistic and creative it can be, even if it isn’t necessarily attractive! They are showing that it’s okay to do something different with makeup! It definitely doesn’t give the message that girls have to wear makeup to appear normal. In fact, the above doll line made makeup seem very unusual, almost abnormal. Even makeup’s rules were bent by the Bratz dolls!

Much of the Bratz’s other makeup was used to match up with the theme or subculture they represented. Pretty N Punk, for example, represented punk culture. Many punk princesses wear dark makeup to show their edge and fierceness. They don’t wear it to appear “attractive” or sexy or perfect. Male rock stars often wear eyeliner and black lipstick, too, and I’m sure it’s not to appear more attractive and perfect.

Most guys might think these styles are cool, but hardly any of them would consider these girls “bombshells”. It’s easy to tell that their makeup was purely designed to better make a statement rather than to appear perfect, without imperfections.

Again, Bratz used makeup in a variety of ways, even in more conventional ways. But because of their constant changes, they never managed to give the impression that they wore makeup to please others. They never gave the message that a girl had to wear makeup to appear attractive. They literally seemed to just be having fun with it. As a tween, I liked that.

Bratz may not have been the fresh-faced, innocent-looking, demure dolls mommies wanted, but they weren’t exactly anti-feminist either.

By feminists criticizing the Bratz usage of makeup, it’s as if they are placing a rule on who gets to be a feminist. So, are they implying women who enjoy trying different makeup tricks aren’t feminists? This leads to greater questions about modern feminism.

Sure, makeup was created by men and is a reminder of the “patriarchy”. But so is everything in our societies. Does that mean makeup is bad and can’t be used for positive and creative purposes? Absolutely not!

Overall, I’m not sure where some of these feminists are going when they attack the usage of makeup on these dolls. I think most of them are purely ignorant about the brand.

Bratz Are “Over-sexualized”

All the articles I’ve read from feminists, especially from Jezebel, have said that the Bratz are “hyper-sexualized” dolls. What exactly makes a doll sexualized? Short skirts? Cropped tops? Makeup? Pouty Lips? Glossy eyes?

And if they do, what exactly makes these things sexualized?

They are only sexualized when people sexualize them. To say that a doll with a short skirt is sexualized is indirectly saying a woman who wears a short skirt is sexualizing herself.

That would go against most feminists’ mantra: “My clothing is not my consent”.

Haven’t we gone beyond policing a woman’s attire and attributing her wardrobe to sexual and physical attention from the opposite sex? So why is it condemned when dolls reflect just that attitude?

Arguing about dolls being over-sexualized may be more appropriate for Barbie to a certain degree because of the “intent” of some of her lines. Most of her early attire is for the physical attention of her boyfriend Ken (though even she has moved beyond that point). Barbie has been a sex icon for most men for centuries. She was inspired by a “Call-Girl” doll, Bild Lilli, a doll meant for adults. Barbie has literally had lingerie lines. She has had “pregnant” dolls.

Barbie, sex icon

Sure, Pregnant Midge isn’t wearing a fitted skirt and a lot of makeup. But she’s pregnant! This opens the doors to other controversial subjects that kids really aren’t mature enough to be exposed to (though children often witness their mothers pregnant all the time).

Barbie is meant to be a blonde, gorgeous adult woman who does “adult” things like have sex and get pregnant. And she allows girls to imagine their lives as “adult” women through playtime with her. Children who play with her are reinventing an adult lifestyle. Sometimes, this produces controversy.

But even with Barbie, should we police all of her fashion styles and attribute it solely to sex and seeking male attention? Not all of it.

If we want to talk about something being sexualized or “hyper-sexualized”, we have to consider the context of the lines the dolls are released in.

The Bratz, on the other hand, have never initiated a sexual response to anyone who played or collected them. The context of their clothing, the intent of their lines, have never been to produce a sexual response. They were intended for a tween and teen audience. They were meant to showcase the latest fashions and the most revolutionary styles out in the cultural world.

In fact, if you look up “Bratz as a sex icon” on Google, hardly anything sexual comes up except these feminists’ articles! While Barbie has many photos of a sexual nature, Bratz don’t!

Most men do not see Bratz as sexually attractive. First off, their bodies are too disproportionate to even be considered “real”.

If you want to argue that Bratz’s skirts are too short, short enough to look like underwear, let’s consider the fact that Bratz hardly wore skirts in the past.

To me, the Bratz have mostly been presented as “fashionable”, not sexy. And if fashionable is considered sexy, women and men have a problem. Clothing itself is a problem. Taste and preference is a problem.

Dolls are designed to mimic the real world around us in some ways. If we don’t want dolls to mimic the styles we find “sexualized”, then we as women need to stop wearing makeup and fashionable clothes that are too sexualized. We need to go back to the point where our skirts were below the ankles and our collars were high. But feminists fought to move away from that point. Why? Because it was uncomfortable to walk in those long, horrible skirts. The collars were itchy and hot in the summer. And it didn’t stop women from being objectified or from being looked at as sex objects.

What is considered sexualized is subjective. In the above Bratz photos, I’m still trying to scan them for any hint of sex and I don’t understand it. Someone else may be able to spot it. If some of us, like myself, can’t spot it as easily, that means it’s not as “overt” as these feminists make it out to be.

Arguably, feminists come from all walks of life, from many different religious and moral backgrounds. Some feminists are Muslim or Hindu and believe in a certain form of modesty. But there are many village women out in the world who often go topless or wear crop tops, and it isn’t considered morally indecent. It’s mostly considered practical in the heat!

If we can honor that women come from all walks of life, we should also be able to understand that the Bratz represent those women that actually enjoy using fashion as a form of self-expression and connecting with group culture, especially sub-cultures. We should understand that the Bratz wear their short skirts and crop tops and think nothing of it.

The short skirts that they wear are simply fashion statements. The Bratz’s legs seem freer, which is why the Bratz give off the image that they are liberated from societal norms. But their lines are hardly ever to cater to male or female sexual fantasies.

The Bratz do often wear cropped tops. But cropped tops aren’t always worn for sexual attention. If we’re going to say that, we might as well condemn every woman who wears one in the summer, on the beach, or at home relaxing. Bikinis should be outlawed then. They’re revealing. If that’s the case, return to the 1800s idea of “fashion” when bathing suits weighed 8 lbs!

But women will not regress. Women have many reasons for wearing the fashions they wear and it is not always to seek male attention. Feminists are the ones who’ve educated the world on that. So why can’t they accept the Bratz dolls for wearing it?

The Bratz’s cropped tops are no different from the ones sported by empowering and feminist female pop stars and figures today.

And yet, most feminists’ honor these women as strong and empowering influences on girls. Are Alessia Cara and Pink seeking male attention with their cropped tops?

It’s true that fashion sends a message to others about us, even if it doesn’t tell others everything. However, if we look at the context of the lines produced, we can clearly see the dolls’ intended nature, even if they’re wearing cropped tops and mini skirts. From the Bratz, we can obviously see they are fierce, independent, and revolutionary dolls that simply want to take fashion to the next outrageous level.

When we look at Bratz fashion lines like Tokyo-ago-go or Pretty N’ punk, what message are the lines sending?

Bratz Tokyo a-go-go tells me that the Bratz are ready for a wild and fun Tokyo adventure, not a date with a hot guy. Their cropped tops don’t hint at any sexual message in this line. Pretty N Punk tells me that the Bratz are ready to listen to some rock music and party at a rock club.

Neither of these lines give the message that they want a male’s attention or that they even want to look sexy at all.

Many of the feminists that complain about the Bratz often complain about anything “too revealing”. If you wear skinny jeans, you’re sexualizing yourself to some of these feminists!

That’s why they were on my list of 7 Feminists That Make Me Cringe.

These feminists also associate makeup with sexualization. I think makeup makes people look older, especially children, but that doesn’t mean it’s specifically for looking older and hotter to the opposite sex. There is kiddie makeup out in the world that’s toned down and it’s a lot of fun to share makeup moments with mom. Spa dates aren’t sexualizing to a child.

Face paint can be a form of makeup as well. Face paint isn’t sexualizing. Bratz have often used makeup that way.

What really kills me about these feminists’ accusations is how they equate “features” to sexualization. I find it interesting how “big lips” and “glossy eyes” are associated with sexualization. Bratz have a vague “ethnic” look about them. They were meant to relate, again, to a wider ethnic demographic.

But some of these feminists have associated the Bratz’s big lips and eyes with sexualization. What?

Black women have bigger lips than other races. Are they sexualizing themselves when they wear lip gloss or lipstick on their lips? I think this goes back to a Eurocentric standard of modesty, where thin lips and big eyes are considered “innocent”, while full lips and almond-shaped eyes (more similar to other ethnic groups) are considered immodest and ugly.

I can understand how the Bratz could encourage thin-lip girls to get surgery just to blow their lips up. However, thin-lip dolls can just as easily encourage big-lip girls to get surgery to reduce their lips. I think the Bratz, who are widely looked at as unrealistic in form and design, make big heads, feet, and lips, once considered undesirable traits, more acceptable.

I grew up having big feet. Big feet run in my family. Many of the women in my family wear size 11. The smallest feet in my family have worn size 9! Most people have called me “long feet”. When the Bratz were released, I didn’t feel so bad about it. Their feet were obviously exaggerated though.

To me, the eyes showed attitude and confidence, not flirtation and sexuality. So if a woman glosses her eyes, she’s trying to flirt with someone? This contradicts everything feminists stand for!

 Unrealistic Bodies

Feminists have attacked dolls with skinny bodies for years. This is because many are afraid girls will strive to have unrealistic body weights, starving themselves or getting surgery just to appear skinny.

Bratz have very skinny arms and legs.

I can understand why feminists fear this. After all, many people desired to have Barbie’s figure after being exposed to her. However, we have to also analyze what the standard of beauty was before Barbie was released. Being slim, blonde, with thin lips, perky breasts, and blue eyes were always standards of beauty since the 1950s and 1960s. The media played it up. Barbie just reflected that standard in a perfect doll form.

http://www.thefrisky.com/photos/human-barbies-slideshow/barbie-valeria/

Bratz’s body design never reflected a particular standard of beauty from the very beginning, skinny or not. No one ever desired to have large feet and huge heads (at least in the west) with a skinny body. It never has been an ideal (at least in the west) and never will be.

If we look at Bratz as a doll brand separately from Barbie, objectively, Bratz don’t look realistic enough to begin with to cause children to want to look like them in real life. That’s like assuming little girls would want to look like a Powerpuff Girl just because they like the cartoon. Children are smarter than that. They know when something looks unrealistic.

Barbie and Jem dolls had more realistic appearances, appearances that seemed to fit media standards, so I can understand how individuals could strive to look like them. Bratz dolls have larger than life heads with huge feet. They look like they walked out of carnival fun house mirrors.

If you’re looking to bring body politics into the Bratz world, you’ve got a few things to consider.

First off,  keeping in mind their cartoonish look, they aren’t supposed to have realistic bodies. They are supposed to look weird and sort of funny.

Second, you have to consider what kids see when they look at dolls that obviously look disproportionate. I think children get the same vibe from these dolls that they do from characters in My Little Pony. Humans don’t have purple and pink skin, so we can’t be like the Equestria Girls. That’s the vibe I got as an 11 year old when it came to Bratz. In fact, I thought it was cool that they looked like funny, but edgy cartoon characters. Being skinny was not even a thought. I’m skinny, but their type of “skinny” was like watching Anamaniacs characters walk around.

Therefore, it’s simple to conclude that their “skinny” bodies do not honestly matter because the bodies aren’t mean to reflect real bodies at all. They could’ve easily had thick bodies with extremely small heads and feet. It would still look like figures in a fun house mirror, not a real body representing real figures.

The only things the Bratz mimic about humans are their fashion, accessories, hobbies, and personalities. Just like cartoon characters.

Please don’t come and tell me that Gumball toys, based off of the cartoon, make kids want to become clouds, cacti, and fish. Please. Those characters obviously look strange. The Bratz are more similar to them. Kids obviously know that the Bratz bodies aren’t normal and they recognize that they would get teased if they looked that way.

It’s not the same with Barbie or other fashion dolls like her, like Jem. If kids looked like them, they would be “praised” by beauty-conscious individuals.

“Bratz” for a name

Moms may have more of a problem with the name than feminists, but a few feminists have expressed their disdain for the name as well.

Sure, a “brat” is someone who is usually depicted as spoiled, misbehaved, and demanding. It doesn’t sound pleasant over all.

But considering Da Brat was one of my favorite female rappers in the 1990s, I didn’t have a problem with it. Like Da Brat, the name seemed designed to represent their urban, tough, and sassy attitude. It reflected their nonconforming nature. To me, Bratz represented individuality and the beauty of diversity (in style, ethnicity, and interests). The name just made their sass pop.

Da Brat took gangsta to a whole new level with her tomboyish looks!

Again, I can see how this makes the former generation uneasy. After all, they’re still getting used to gay marriage. They wouldn’t be used to a name like “Bratz” being used more positively. To the older generation, nonconformity is dangerous.

But as advocates of nonconformity, it shocks me that there are so many feminists who are so against the Bratz, name and all. I get that we want our little girls to be pure, wholesome, and solid citizens in society. But there should also be room for girls to be bold, innovative, expressive, and revolutionary. I think hijacking the name Brats, adding the “z”, and the halo is the definition of revolutionary and innovative.

Their Emphasis on Materialism

Bratz came with hundreds of accessories and clothes throughout their run. In many of their movies and in their TV show, they are often depicted shopping for outfits for each occasion.

This leads many feminists to believe that the Bratz encourage materialism.

I believe that, as humans, things are apart of our life. Sometimes, things have significant meaning in our lives. In many cultures, family heirlooms are passed through the family and they end up having personal meaning.

Of course, the Bratz’s accessories aren’t as meaningful as a family heirloom, but their items do reflect items we use or see in real life. It’s kind of cool to see miniature-sized items.

Material things are especially a part of being in the 1st world west. I do believe that our lives have been changed for the better by modern conveniences such as cell phones and tablets. I believe that makeup and fashion constantly updates, which says a lot about our culture, so people do spend a lot of money to look good. But I don’t think these things make a person bad or materialistic.

A materialistic person is someone who only cares about material things and can’t live without those material things. The Bratz have shown many layers throughout their shows and movies. Though they do love to look good, they also enjoy their hobbies and connections with friends and family.

Sure, the Bratz have shown that they love to shop. However, they often emphasized being resourceful or finding innovative ways to get the items they wanted. Shopping in bargain bins or designing their own styles were just some of the things Bratz have been shown doing to express their resourcefulness.

The Bratz have shown interest in other things such as sports, music, science, animals, among other things. I don’t think they’ve emphasized material things all the time. Furthermore, I think their use of material things haven’t necessarily made them seem spoiled or privileged.

However, there is nothing wrong with wanting or owning nice things and trying to enhance the quality of your life by collecting something you love or enjoy.

I personally find the Bratz items to be fascinating and enjoyable for playtime. Who wants a doll that comes with nothing? Kids want to bring the world of their dolls to life with mini models. Mini items add to the overall experience each doll line brings.

If we want to question whether we are instilling materialistic values on our children, we shouldn’t be buying them expensive I-phones and tablets. I’ve seen worse behavior come from children demanding the latest technology than from the influence of a Bratz doll.

“Passion For Fashion”= Obsessed with Appearance

Feminists believe the slogan suggests that the Bratz are completely focused on outfits and nothing else substantial.

But isn’t it possible for an individual to be interested in fashion, as a practice, and still have substance?

And why can’t there be substance in fashion?

I can understand if people mostly focus on fashion just to be pleasing or attractive to others. But the Bratz use fashion for many purposes, mostly to showcase many ideas and subcultures, not just to look “pleasing” or “attractive”. Quite frankly, many of the Bratz’s outfits don’t look pleasing. Midnight Dance, Pretty N Punk, and Space Angelz are not really of the “pleasing” sort, though some of the Bratz’s outfits are.

It’s clear the the doll brand is emphasizing not being concerned with pleasing others. Bratz are encouraging individuals to enjoy fashion without fitting into fashion molds. Fashion doesn’t always equal attraction and attraction doesn’t always equal fashion.

I believe the one thing that is lacking among girls today is passion. Girls are not encouraged to be passionate about the things they like and want. They are encouraged to scatter their interests, which makes it difficult for them to master a practice. The Bratz encourage girls to be all about their passions, despite what others think.

I also find it odd for feminists to be against having a “passion for fashion” when we consider the fact that the majority of fashion designers are male!

Females are still in the minority

I think the Bratz’s kind of passion for fashion encourages girls to be future designers and inventors. They don’t encourage girls just to buy clothes, but to also come up with their own ideas, to think outside of the box, and to express themselves in unique ways.

Using myself as an example, I don’t think I would’ve embraced my own gender expression as well had I not been introduced to the Bratz dolls. I don’t think I would’ve thought it was possible to see the individuality in fashion. I don’t think I would’ve found my own social identity.

When feminists began criticizing the Bratz, it affected the overall design of Bratz. MGA made things worse by dragging the brand into court with Barbie’s company Mattel, but feminists began growing in influence and they are the reason the latest Bratz design changed into something long-time fans could hardly respect or appreciate. MGA expressed that they wanted Bratz to have a “better image” for girls. Who made the Bratz image look bad? Why would they decide that the Bratz image wasn’t good enough? Someone had to be criticizing the brand in order for them to make that statement on Facebook. We have to acknowledge that feminists had some hand in the drastic change.

In my opinion, Bratz moved from a more ethnic look and vibe to a more “Eurocentric”-friendly design.

I know it seems like I learned a little too much from a line of dolls, and it may seem that I invest too much time appreciating these dolls, but that is partially why I have a special connection with this brand. I really feel if feminists’ had really and truly tried to understand the meaning behind the Bratz, if they’d actually given them a chance, they would see that the Bratz are/were not too far off from feminists’ goals.

I just hope that when, or rather IF, the Bratz return, they will return to their original authentic design. I hope they truly produce something earth-shattering, regardless of what anyone says. Even if feminists disagree, for me, that’s truly empowering.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think/thought about the Bratz controversy, feminists’ involvement in it, and the future of Bratz.

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