Bratz (Guest Post)

One of my very cool friends and fellow bloggers Lex Vex posted some really interesting thoughts about the new trend in Bratz dolls, and I shamelessly decided to share it here as well. An artist has been redesigning some of the fashion dolls, which you can find articles about here and here, as well as the artist's tumblr here. Bratz dolls have taken a lot of criticism for sexualizing girl's toys because of their excessive makeup and risqué clothing, so the redesigns are a dramatic change. The new "Tree Change" dolls have "swapp[ed] high-maintenance glitz 'n' glamour for down-to-earth style," according to the artist. There's been an outpouring of positive feedback, things like, "it's a welcome attempt to desexualise the glamorous fashion dolls" and "now they look like real girls". This "natural doll" movement has been gaining momentum, especially with the release of Lammily, a fashion doll with realistic proportions.


As some people may have seen the Bratz dolls from our wee years have been all over twitter and the internet this week because someone in Tasmania ave the dolls make-unders. This woman has been praised for 'desexualizing' the dolls and turning them into little innocent forest children, instead of bad influences.

1. What's wrong with options? 

As someone who likes to put on make up most days, it's rude and dumb to make snap judgements about intelligence based on their outer appearance. People have been saying these dolls have 'inner beauty' because they look 'natural.'

Um... No they don't, they're dolls- and having the option of natural looking dolls is great but believe me I have met some real assholes who didn't wear makeup while knowing many lovely women who do. Dolls however, have no personalities and unless there are rainbows in that inner husk of theirs, they have about as much inner beauty as an empty Pringles can.

2. De-sexualization? Really?

I think my biggest problem with the desexualization fight is the ignorant question of who is sexualizing these dolls. Speaking from the perspective of someone who played with said dolls at a young age, I don't think I eroticized them in the same way that adults do. The bold colors and patterns of the clothes may have stimulated emulation but it was because the aesthetic was interesting, vivid, and not constantly 'pretty in pink.' Do girls explore sexual discovery through playing with dolls? Honestly yes- but that can be done with any set of dolls- and to blame the clothes is preposterous- all I know is that when we played with the dolls and someone wanted to have a baby, doll clothes would hit the ground faster than you could say 'lack of genitalia' - and reenacting 'sex' with the dolls was so incredibly inaccurate that instead of sex positions that made sense we'd just make the dolls scissor, regardless of gender, and boom a baby happened. Children don't sexualize the dolls. They don't look at the clothing the dolls wear and think, "this is sexy and all the boy dolls will want to fuck her." Parents do. Saying the natural dolls are better is a form of slut shaming so ingrained that we are forcing it on inanimate objects. That is one slutty hunk of plastic. The problem isn't so much that we treat the dolls as pariahs of bad influence- it's that we treat women the way we treat these dolls. 

3. Just Look at this Diversity

Can we quickly discuss how diverse Bratz dolls were for their time? Even now they lead the doll market as far as diversity is concerned with tons of varying race, ethnicity and even social groups represented. They have no single 'token' person of color doll but many who are given equal weight in advertising. And, unlike Barbie, all dolls have their own, equally cool, style, individual face shape, makeup pallet and fashion sense.


One of the biggest butt-hurts people have had with the franchise is that the bratz dolls don't promote any type of non-traditionally-feminine interest. I wonder though, does Barbie, who has a wide array of forms and jobs, actually promote play within those ranges? When I was a child, I would choose the coolest looking bratz or Barbie doll and, regardless of clothing, made them paleontologists, veterinarians, marine biologists myself. The commercials may show bratz dolls going on trips to the mall for fashion, but mine was most certainly a prosthetic limb engineer.

Long and the short, I'm not saying the refurbished dolls are bad or stupid, but I do think they are an alternative option that should be available without vilifying the dolls already out there. The girls and boys who play with them should not be scolded for enjoying a vibrant aesthetic or praised for proffering a woodsy one. Just get the kid the doll they'll like, and as long as you don't see signs of anorexia as a result, let it be. Adults, please stop sexualizing your children's toys. That's what you have your own for.

Want more Lex? Check out The Full Scope, a blog about gender identity in video games.

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