Sometimes the right thing happens for all the wrong reasons. This may be the last Christmas that little girls get Bratz dolls from Santa. Judge Steven Larson has ruled that Bratz dolls must be removed from the market.
If you have problems with Barbie, you haven’t seen anything yet. Statuesque Barbie, in the style of a 1950’s fashion illustration, has measurements that would make a Miss Universe contestant weep, is more than 50% leg, and has a tiny little pinhead. Back in the day, feminists worried that she would give our daughters an unrealistic body image.
Unrealistic body image is the least of the worries about the Bratz girls. Of indeterminate age, but targeted to the three- to eight-year old market, they are short, with a tiny waist, wide hips, and thrusting adolescent breasts. Imagine a risque cartoon of Dolly Parton as a fourth grader and you’ll begin to grasp the shape. Now put on an over-sized head with a little girl’s face, featuring huge, heavily kohl-lined eyes and Angelina Jolie lips puckered into a sensual pout. Top it off with enough hair to make Rapunzel look like a naked mole rat. Finally, dress this disturbing figure in clothing that can only be described as streetwalker chic. Bodices are off the shoulder with midriffs revealed, pants are low slung and skintight, skirts stop at the pantie line above fishnet stockings and are accessorized with thigh high platform boots. Finish off the wardrobe with a selection of evening gowns that would make a Los Vegas showgirl look demure.
I look at these dolls and wonder what kind of people make, sell, and purchase toys that sexualize prepubescent children and create personalities for them with “extreme super cool attitudes” that would make most rock stars seem like reserved young ladies.
Well, the Bratz are out of business, at least for now, but for all the wrong reasons. It seems that the Bratz babes were making moves on Barbie’s fashion doll turf and putting the smackdown on her ability to turn business on the fashion doll street. Barbie is a frumpy old hen compared to these hot chicks who have not just lunch boxes; but a TV show, a movie, albums, and websites among their merchandising arsenal. Mattel isn’t happy about sharing their corner with the new girls on the block, so they have sued MGA, manufacturer of Bratz, and won. The designer who conceived the dolls was employed by Mattel, owner of Barbie, when he began developing the Bratz. A California judge found their claim of ownership of the “intellectual property” of the Bratz dolls convincing. (Just for the record, I’d like to say that to call this intellectual property is an oxymoron, but then again, I don’t understand exactly how LA Grand Theft Auto became a “game” for suburban kiddies in Kansas either.)
Which saddens me most? That our culture tolerates this kind of toy? That parents are purchasing these for things their daughters and sons? That years of work for women’s equality has been distorted into this idea of what feminism is? That crime is victimless? That it’s worth millions of dollars in legal fees to fight not over whether the dolls should be sold, but rather over who will profit from the sale? That parents need a warning label that a game about stealing cars might not be appropriate for their child?
At the risk of being a Grinch, I’d like climb down chimneys and gather up all of these dolls, grab all the Grand Theft Auto games, and a lot of other video games while I was at it. If the Whos down in Whoville had nothing left under their Christmas trees at that point, then shame on those Who parents. I’d leave notices behind from Santa’s Workshop stating,
Dear Children, Santa enjoys granting wishes and providing toys, but Santa doesn’t do things that harm children. I would love to bring nice toys such as American Girl dolls, Tonka trucks, Fisher Price playsets, Legos, and puzzles and board games, because these toys encourage children to be children. But Santa doesn’t deal in trashy toys, so if you wanted a Bratz doll or the Grand Auto Theft video game you will need to submit your wish list to the manufacturers’ representatives. However, my Little Ones, you may discover that, unlike Old Santa, these people don’t deal in bringing joy to good little girls and boys. They are only interested in lining their own pockets; and if that means peddling commercialism, sex, violence, and greed to the next generation they have no compunction about doing so. This is because they are naughty, not nice people and your parents ought to know better than to give them access to your minds.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanzaa, and Peace on Earth to All Men, Women and Children of Goodwill.
The opinions expressed in A Place at the Table are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.