Childrearing

Girls Playing With Bratz Dolls Equivalent To The Horrors Of Child Labor, Says Mom

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All parents are concerned with the images and films consumed by their children, and toys alone represent a specific market in which even the most laissez-faire of parents make informed choices about what exactly goes into their kids’ hands. Bratz dolls remain one of the most controversial, and while I have yet to meet a mother who describes herself as “pro-Bratz,” many seem to just grit their teeth and hope that the phase will pass. With big heads, skinny bodies, layers of makeup, and an emphasis on heels and miniskirts, Bratz dolls seem to embody everything that would make a parent squirm. But a mother over at The Guardian has gone a step further by deducing that once a little time passes, our collective feelings about Bratz dolls will align with our regretful sentiments about child labor.

Tanith Carey opens her piece by describing how when she was a kid, her well-intentioned parents purchased her candy cigarettes. She argues that no modern parent would be seen letting their children have such a gimmick nowadays, as the candy obviously presents smoking as fun past-time to children.

Carey wrote:

In the same way that no “good” parent would buy a child those candy cigarettes , we have to create a society where no “good” parent wants to be seen buying her young daughter tarty-looking Bratz dolls equipped with a makeup compact and a mobile, either.

We need to press home the point that when a little girl feels that being sexy is the reason she is valued, she will spend more time and energy on what she looks like – instead of other areas of her life, such as education.

I hope we will look back at this period in the same way we once viewed children being sent up chimneys. In the same way as the unregulated labour practices of the Victorian era robbed those children of their childhoods, so the sexualisation and free-for-all raunch culture is robbing our daughters of theirs.

Carey’s argument is impassioned and the tween industry is notoriously founded in making children aspire to act, purchase, and aspire to be older than they are. At the same time, the mothers I know who grimace at the sight of those dolls in their children’s rooms can’t truly be conflated with advocates of child labor. The purchase of toys alone I don’t think can prompt or encourage certain behaviors in children unless their parents are buying them with little to no communication about said issues — like beauty, self-esteem, self worth, etc. Buying Bratz dolls doesn’t instantly give your daughter the signal that higher education doesn’t matter. But handing her one in a house where perhaps there are no books in the home just might.

Never chatting with her or attempting to expand her ideas of self worth is perhaps more dangerous than a Bratz doll, regardless of what other less suggestive toys she may have scattered around her room. Communicating with children and assuring them of your take on matters, regardless of what our culture pumps into their brains, is what makes you the parent and the media just everyone else.

(photo: sweetslyrics.com)

8 Comments

  1. El

    June 13, 2011 at 7:31 am

    At least there’s a Doctor Barbie…

  2. Lindsay Cross

    June 13, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Koa, I really love what you’re saying here. I understand that toys and media can influence children. But more than anything, we need to be talking to our children, both boys and girls. We need to explain how important education is and how much we value their thoughts and contributions. I think this, more than any product boycott, can change our cultural outlook.

  3. Mary-Kate

    December 22, 2011 at 2:43 am

    I grew up playing with most major doll brands (of my childhood), Barbie, My Scene, and yes Bratz. I never saw anything wrong with them. I never aspired to be like my dolls, that is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Most young girls like Bratz, because they’re different. (or at least they were when I played with them.) I didn’t even know what a Slut was when I played with them. I just saw them as dolls, nothing more.

    • Jen Clark

      March 13, 2013 at 6:47 pm

      Oh wow, I almost forgot about my scene, they were kinda like the “inbetween” of barbie and bratz, or the more grown up version of bratz. My moms friend always called her the “estranged slutty sister of barbie” lol

    • Lisa Cheche Mako

      September 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      yaaa for you my daughter loves all kinds of dolls (except baby and 18 inch ones) I let her have them because she enjoys them

  4. Jen Clark

    March 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I remember those old candy cigarettes, I often got them as hand outs during halloween, they had a weird chalky texture, but a really sweet flavor, of course, when most kids were walking around in the school yard, “smoking” them as a new fad, I had already long devoured mine, it’s no surprise they were banned from my school. I never really saw bratz dolls as anything evil, sure they may seem like they perpetuate stereotypes among some moms, but in the same way some creationist moms think toy dinosaurs are evil because they teach children evolution. I mean the reality is, it’s just a toy for imaginary play, as long as you instill your children with a moral code, and the differences between right and wrong and reality from imaginary, you shouldn’t really be that worried. I’m worried about my daughter growing up smart, educated, healthy and safe, I’m worried about whether the guy down the road is a potential kidnapper or not, not about what kind of dolls she plays with.

  5. gothicgaelicgirl

    September 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    anyone remember the DivaStarz? they were great, they were animatronic (spell??) talking dolls you snapped clothes onto- as in, actual clothes. 90’s style capri pants, butterfly t-shirts, no hint even of knickers- the underwear was little girl-shorts and a vesty top.
    i loved this doll, i despised barbie. the one barbie I had, I gave spiky Joan Jett style hair (she was my idol along with Siouxsie as a kid, mom raised me on 80’s music).

    i think it’s all how you portray to your kids what is and isn’t acceptable in a normal everyday situation as opposed to playing in your room.

  6. Pingback: Bratz Dolls Reimagined As Extraordinary Women | Furniture

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