Thursday, October 8, 2009

Barbie vs Bratz

First I like to preface that my nine year old daughter has two totes full of fashion dolls shown in the pictures below. I can't recall even one time that she's ever played with them. Some of them are brand new, some are still in their original boxes and some are hand me downs, which show a little wear, but not on Madison's part.

This leads me to a topic that I am very unfamiliar with. Not something that I talk about since I am apparently raising a tomboy. Not something that I'd probably ever talk about, until now....

Last week I overheard a conversation between two women at a ballgame that went something like this...

"I won't allow my daughter to play with those ugly Bratz dolls." The other woman stated, "Yeah, I won't let me daughter have them either. I think they are trashy." Then they began to talk about their own beloved childhood and their passion for Barbie dolls. I really wanted to know more on why Bratz dolls are so taboo at their household, but a Barbie doll would be acceptable. I so wanted to interrupt and ask, but I just couldn't. Call me naive, but I really don't see much of a difference between the two. This made me ponder about these popular and highly debated dolls, so I did a little research.
Barbie dolls entered the world in March 1959, designed by a woman whose daughter, Barbie, had a love for adult style paper dolls. This is how Barbies came to be. Really....I'd love to look this good at fifty! Okay, I'd love to look this good now!

Anyway, I wish I could have asked my late Grandmother what she thought about Barbie? I guess my mom would have been a young teenager when Barbie debuted, so she may never have given it a second thought. I'm still guessing there were moms out there that did make a similar comment like the ballgame moms.
Bratz dolls were first released in June of 2001, which they didn't get much attention until the following Christmas of 2002, when their popularity took hold. Now, like Barbies...millions of these dolls have been sold. In 2006, a toy analyst indicated that Bratz dolls captured about 40% of the fashion doll market while Barbie had the remaining 60%. Barbie fans...good news after fifty years she still has it! When I look at a Barbie, I often think that her body image is really unrealistic. However, one with the right kind of funds can re-create a similar body image with plastic surgery. Would this not maybe cause a girl to have a negative self-image of herself? I'd love to have her flawless skin and that waist! Let's not forget that chest....okay. Enough said!
When I look at a Bratz doll, I think well, she really does not have any features that are realistic..those puffy lips, enlarged eyes. It doesn't matter how much plastic surgery one can have, there's no way to increase the head size to make the body look tinier, let alone make the eyes over half the size of the head. Of course, with multiple plastic surgeries the nose is possible, just remember the King of Pop! I can't imagine that any girl would truly want to look like this. She's much too fiction like. I can't see where there would be much of any negative body image projected here?!
Maybe the ballgame moms don't like a male Bratz doll that has a "man purse"? Could it be that the name "Bratz" alone is offensive? Maybe it's because their lower legs pop off to change their shoes, which is creepy? Or maybe it has something to do with their lifestyle choices? Barbie can be a teacher, nurse, movie star, model, veterinarian, while the Bratz doll is stuck in adolescence indefinitely. Who knows? Any insight on this? Or who cares?

Here's the one thing that I DO know......
My soon-to-be three year old son, is enthralled by them. It was like having Christmas tonight when we located the two boxes of them at the back of Madison's closet!

He even said....."Mommy, my Barbie!" I guess he likes Barbies better than Bratz dolls too!

6 comments:

Mamma has spoken said...

I've heard the same thing too here. I never figured out why but some moms won't let their child have Bratz dolls. I am old enough that I had one of the first Barb dolls that came out. Oh do I wish I still had them. Though I think they wouldn't be as valuable since I did play barbershop with them...

Mindee said...

I wasn't allowed Barbies when I was little. My mom thought they sent the "wrong message" during the height of feminism.

It just made me want them more. :)

Amy said...

Mindee--

I think you hit the nail on the head. I often think that when adults say no to something that the majority of kids see, do and have (within reason) that it just makes them want it all the more. Maybe that's why Madison doesn't like them. I gave them to her and she wants nothing to do with them. Funny, huh?!

Teachinfourth said...

As a kid I used to pull the heads off of my sister's Skipper doll and her Darci. Sometimes switch them around just for fun.

Tracey said...

Hilarious! Ok, I admit, I am a Barbie fanatic. I STILL love Barbies. They are the ultimate girls doll. And, I hate Bratz dolls. Won't buy them. They are just trashy and skanky looking. In comparison, Barbie is totally classy. LOL

roxythekiller said...

What is interesting about all these people calling a doll "trashy" is that dolls are incapable of talking, having sexual relations, or doing much more than standing around looking pretty. What makes a piece of plastic or a human being "skanky?"

For one, "skanky" is not a valid criticism. It is a sexist term disproportionately applied to girls and women, but never to men. Women are constantly forced into unrealistic good girl/bad girl extremes. We are relentlessly judged by the way we dress, not what we actually think or do. This is part of objectification--- we are judged by looks and fashion accessories rather than the content of our character.

If an empty-headed piece of plastic can be judged as a skank despite lacking a brain or private parts, what's to stop a real girl from being judged and bullied in the same way? Feelings? A "non-skanky" outfit? The bottom line is, the "skanky girl"/"good girl" binary hurts us all.

So why legitimize this binary in the first place? Why legitimize terms like "skank" to children, who are most vulnerable to their effects? Legitimizing the idea of "skankiness" will not hurt the feelings of a Bratz doll, but it will hurt your daughters in the long run by furthering sexism.