Grab your bestie and head to the nearest Toys-R-Us, because Bratz have returned to the shelves. Honestly, I thought the dolls were re-branded as Moxie Girls because MGA, the toymaker, realized that most mothers don’t want their children idolizing a brat. But apparently, MGA has been battling Mattel over copyright issues. But little girls everywhere can break out their blue glitter eye shadow and thigh high boots, because Jade, Cloe, Sasha and Yasmin are back. And according to the CEO of MGA, the dolls have received a makeover, becoming “more preppy than sexy.” I haven’t consulted my Handbook lately, but this picture just doesn’t scream Connecticut country club to me.
Aside from the obvious sexualization of a toy made for elementary school girls, I have another problem with these dolls. For quite a while, toy creators have been giving their products back stories to encourage children to relate with the toy. Get a girl invested in Jade’s story and she’ll buy more Jade products. This is the reason my daughter’s Barbie dolls all look like Ariel, Belle and Mulan. And maybe Disney princesses don’t have the best advice to give young children, but my daughter likes them. So what’s the Bratz back story? These girls have “a passion for fashion”. That’s it! They aren’t dressing like tramps, they are just mini fashionistas! This makes sense now!
Except it doesn’t. Their bios, courtesy of the Bratz website, are completely ridiculous caricatures of adolescent girls. And to demonstrate my point, I surveyed my fellow Gloss writers, (because honestly, no one could ever call me fashionably-inclined.) I’d like to compare the Bratz characters to actual women in fashion, and the way they saw themselves in the 6th grade. Let’s just call it an interesting exercise in reality vs. Bratz-inspired, future Real Housewives of La-La Land.
Nick Name: Kool Kat
Favorite Color: Green
Favorite Food: Sushi, because it looks so cool on the plate!
Fashion Passion: Anything new and quirky cool
Shopping Style: The coolest shops and the hippest styles
Future Goals: Designing Haute Couture
Name: Jen Wright (Deputy Editor at TheGloss)
Nick Name: Countess Olenska (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood – the book, not the movie – had just come out, and that nickname stuff was big)
Favorite Color: Sparkle
Favorite Food: Tortelloni. No, not tortellini. It’s not weird. It’s not.
Fashion Passion: I just want to look like Daria
Shopping Style: Which means I have to shop like Quinn
Future Goals: From my 6th grade diary “I would chew through barbed wire covered with poo to get a novel published.” Sometimes I want to give my 6th grade self a hug and tell her everything will be okay.
Nick Name: Angel
Favorite Color: Turquoise
Favorite Food: Right now I’m a vegetarian… Next week, who knows!
Fashion Passion: Animal prints and sparkly fabrics – definitely dramatic!
Shopping Style: Beauty products and glittering make-up
Future Goals: Owning and playing for my own soccer team.
Name: Jillian (Editorial Intern at TheGloss)
Nick Name: Jilly
Favorite Color: Aquamarine… only because it’s my birthstone.
Favorite Food: Chinese
Fashion Passion: Girly and cool. Like denim with ruffles.
Shopping Style: Limited Too. They have the best body glitter.
Future Goals: To become a pop star and marry Taylor Hanson.
Nick Name: Bunny Boo
Favorite Color: Red-Violet
Favorite Food: Power Bars
Fashion Passion: My style comes from the street – old school and new funk
Shopping Style: Lookin’ out for styles to suit all my friends
Future Goals: Be a record producer… with my own fashion line
Name: Jessica (Contributing Editor for TheGloss)
Nick Name: Jessy (WITH A Y)
Favorite Color: Pink and purple
Favorite Food: Pizza
Fashion Passion: Miniskirts with black boots
Shopping Style: Anytime I can go without my mom
Future Goals: I want to be a supermodel
Nick Name: Pretty Princess
Favorite Color: Earth tones (Autumn Shades)
Favorite Food: Thai, Mediterranean, anything ethnic!
Fashion Passion: Blending different styles into a graceful glam look
Shopping Style: Bargain Hunter
Future Goals: A pop-star who wins a Pulitzer Prize.
Name: Lilit (Editor in Chief of TheGloss)
Nick Name: Sugarplum
Favorite Color: Silver
Favorite Food: Fried Chicken
Fashion Passion: Earrings, especially now that my mom let me get my ears pierced
Shopping Style: Whatever my allowance can afford!
Future Goals: Be a writer and/or marry Prince William despite being Jewish and a commoner
I think the most poignant example of my issue is the nicknames (although Countess Olenska sounds pretty serious Jen. I like it). Kool Kat, Angel, Bunny Boo and Pretty Princess. I’m not even sure how to comment on those. Really, if my daughter’s friends were calling her Bunny Boo, I would be pretty worried. Basically, these trampy little dolls are a little like the kids you see on My Super Sweet Sixteen. And there’s a reason that Sweet Sixteen is on MTV instead of Nickelodeon. Because even if it’s about kids or teens, we don’t actually want our children to turn into these divas. (Ladies of The Gloss, your survey scores have sufficiently qualified you to influence young children. Feel free to come play with Brenna anytime.) And maybe Bratz dolls are an amusing representation of tweens, but I don’t want my daughter to start requesting sushi because it ‘looks so cool on the plate.’