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Bratz Dolls: Making Moms Nostalgic For Barbie

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I’ve seen Bratz dolls turn even the most tolerant of mothers’ stomachs. Even mothers who generally choose to turn a blind eye to their children’s toys seem to find the dark eye shadow and exaggerated features unsettling when perusing toy stores. Some mothers flat out refuse to buy them while others purchase them in the hopes that their daughters will eventually lose interest. But no matter where a mother aligns herself on the Bratz tolerance spectrum, the problematic toy has unified many over another one rife with controversy: Barbie. Mothers may have taken Barbie to task over the years for her irksome influence, but she still has Bratz beat in the following arenas:

1. Body Image

Given the skimpy outfits and glorified snotty suggestion of “Bratz,” Barbie seems like a relatively tame alternative. She may have worn a bit of makeup here and there, but Barbie was always pretty fresh faced compared to the makeup lacquered Bratz. Barbie’s body proportions, a topic that received much criticism for most of the latter half of the 20th century, are also pretty mild when considering the huge heads and virtually nonexistent bodies of the Bratz gang. Barbie’s bust may have been much too large for her tiny frame, but at least she had one. Bratz appear like modern day promotional billboards warning against eating disorders : their bauble heads vastly bigger their hips, stomachs, and bust line.

2. Career

Barbie also, for all her care-free hair flipping and high heel wearing, always had a job of some kind. Whether she was working in McDonald’s, being a veterinarian, or training to be a gymnast, she always had professional interests, skills, and hobbies. Bratz, allegedly teenagers themselves, don’t really do much of anything besides shop and brush their hair. I understand from the Bratz television series that the girls work on a Bratz magazine, but the publication is entirely dedicated to the aforementioned interests.

3. Personal Complexity

Barbie was also very versatile and constantly evolving, which can convey a female complexity that goes amiss in many other dolls. She was both a princess and a firefighter, both getting a spa treatment and learning science. Her many incarnations, which were no doubt a marketing gimmick, still showed girls that the same woman who wanted to be a Olympic swimmer could also be a professional dog groomer or even a doctor — that predilections and hobbies were not confined by persona. Bratz dolls don’t really change much besides their sparkly mini skirt.

While both dolls still depict distorted versions femininity and womanhood, Barbie is now the lesser evil by contemporary standards. Concerned mothers of previous generations would probably believe that after Barbie, standards for girls’ toys couldn’t get any worse. The fact that parents must now choose between the influence of a Barbie versus Bratz reveals just how sordid the girls’ toy market has become. We can thank Bratz dolls for pushing Barbie of all icons into a more positive light and for reminding us that our daughters’ playthings have reached a new low.

(photo: annamazing.buzznet.com)

8 Comments

  1. Dani

    June 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I have a new baby girl, and I really hope she chooses to play with Barbie. I don’t want her to choose Barbie over Bratz, I just think that Barbie can be a good influence on what a girl can choose to be. (Anything!)
    I grew up with Barbie and I would love to have that same nostalgia with my little girl. Besides, we now have Computer Engineer Barbie and since that is what I do, I was THRILLED to see this doll come out. I love that I can be a computer nerd and still have a hot pink case for my cell phone.

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  4. bratzlove

    August 12, 2012 at 12:28 am

    First of all, I’m a teen on the age of eighteen. I love Bratz! SO shut up mummy whore.

    • Scarlette

      December 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      Well, this is the most depressing comment I’ve read today.

    • Bluestar

      March 17, 2013 at 10:49 am

      There is no reason to call the writer a name. You are eighteen and should know better then to use that word towards other women. I see nothing wrong with either doll. I think it is parents’ responsibility to teach girls and boys thier self worth and morals.

    • Amymomof3girls

      January 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      If you were truly eighteen then you would know this trait called respect.

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