Monday, June 25, 2007

Sexy at Three?

I don’t think I am being nostalgic when I state that dolls today are not promoting the right kind of imaginative play. Yes, Barbie is ridiculous with her extra long legs and D cup breasts, but Bratz dolls put a whole new spin on sexualized toys. There is Barbie, and then there are Bratz Babyz with their glittering half-tops and pinned diapers. These are without a doubt the most bizarre dolls I have ever seen. It is almost funny the way they inexplicably combine infant accessories, like blankies and bottles, with sexuality. This is the world where girls play not with baby tricycles but Harleys, and where bottles hang around necks like “bling” on diamond chains. What kind of messed up “play” do these dolls encourage? There is even a Babyz Night Out package, full of fashion and beauty accessories. And their night out is not to grama’s house – no – these babies are going clubbing! This is a play world where babies wear thongs and have pouty, lip-lined mouths that Angelina would be envious of.

Isaac Larian, CEO of the company, Micro Games, that manufacture these dolls, said on Nightline that they “don't look trashy to me. I think trashy is in the eyes of the adults". Well then, the thing is Mr. Larian, you must be so blinded by the towering stacks of money that you can’t see the leather clad doll in high heels. To suggest that the “trash” is in our own degenerate minds is to ignore the effect culture plays in our development. We live in a sex-driven consumer society, and despite the CEO’s indignant stance that it is all in our heads, when a doll marketed to young children wears fishnets, it is obvious that sex is selling toys as well. And if one needs hard evidence, let’s look back at the popular dolls from previous generations. Raggedy Anne is positively homely compared to these new fashion dolls.

I find Bratz dolls offensive, not only for their trashy outfits and garish makeup but because of the way they are marketed to young girls. Bratz Kidz and Bratz Babyz are an attempt by the makers of Bratz Dolls to branch out into other markets, younger markets, markets that range from ages 2-5. And these dolls, on a subconscious level, are showing young girls, toddlers really, how to be sexy. Can’t we let little girls just be little for a while. All that will come soon enough. It is so sad to me that parents actually buy these dolls for their children. If parents didn’t buy them, then the market would fall out and production of these porn-tots would stop. As consumers, we have the power to change this, yet parents keep buying these tawdry toys for their young daughters.

I get really annoyed when mothers tell other mothers what to do, and take a self-righteous air. And yet in this case, as hypocritical as I am going to sound, I simply can’t help it. Parents who buy these toys seriously need a time-out! Even if you are not alarmed by their appearance, take a moment and think about what kind of imaginative play these dolls are promoting. They can wrap it up in any kind of friendship, fashion fun, girl-power bullshit they want, the truth is these dolls encourage girls to be consumer driven, beauty obsessed, sexually provocative and self-absorbed – basically, life values according to Paris Hilton. So unless we want our daughters to aspire to be nothing more than the next diva or starlet to grace the cover of Maxim, it is time to say “Enough already”.