Bratz dolls VS. Feminists: “Oversexualized” or “Empowering”?

16 May

Lately, I’ve been going back into the history of Bratz, where Bratz experienced a tremendous rise in the toy industry and where Bratz took a tumble downhill. As a major Bratz fan, I still have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that these dolls are not going to be produced anymore, that they are discontinued, and that they are no longer popular. In 2016, MGA, the owners of the Bratz doll brand, announced that they were discontinuing the Bratz dolls after a less-than-glorious comeback from their hiatus the year before.

As a way to find a sense of closure, I’ve been researching all kinds of news articles on the Bratz, news that have been out since 2001. I’ve been going back into my own “archives” both online and offline.

In a former article, I reviewed what happened to the Bratz in the last couple of years, based on all the information I have: Bratz Are Back Again in 2015: What Happened to the Bratz?

While flipping and clicking through everything, I’ve come to realize that feminists, moms, and Bratz dolls were never far a part from each other, but feminists and moms never really met eye to eye with the Bratz. It doesn’t surprise me that “soccer” moms are against the Bratz. Their name is “Bratz” after all. Parents may have heard the name and assumed that the dolls encouraged their girls to rebel against their parents.

However, I’ve found the Bratz to be a very empowering line of dolls in totality. That’s why it shocks me to read about so many feminists who are really against this doll brand. In fact, many feminists have openly been against the Bratz since debut. Therefore, I’ve concluded that the details that go into the Bratz’s  recent decline in popularity have at least a little to do with active feminists. How so?

Before I get into the details, let’s review how the Bratz came to be, how I got interested in the Bratz, and how (and why) they got so popular in the first place.

Bratz: The Urban Fashionistas

Carter Bryant was the original designer of the Bratz dolls who came up with the idea for the dolls after looking at a Steve Madden shoe ad in Seventeen magazine, photographed by Bernard Belair.

Bryant liked the “cartoonish” yet stylish look of the ad and wanted to create dolls with a similar appeal. To put it simply, Bratz were never meant to look realistic, but they were going to be displayed wearing the latest teen fashions.

Carter Bryant has also shared with me that he was inspired from the urban and punk scenes he always loved. He is an edgy man at heart and wanted to bring that to the Bratz doll line. When he brought the dolls to MGA, Issac Larian, the CEO, was skeptical at first, thinking their heads and feet were weird. But when Larian showed the dolls to his daughter, Jasmin Larian, she thought they were cool. The Bratz doll Yasmin was named after her.

At the Turn of the 21st Century, tweens (kids between the ages of 10 and 14) lost interest in dolls. With pop music spreading around the world, many girls were growing too “old” to be interested in toys (though I’d say it’s worse now than it was then, now that there’s this emphasis on smartphones and tablets). The doll market was experiencing a decline back then just as it is now. Many doll companies were interested in turning the new pop culture trend around in their favor. They wanted to make “up-to-date” dolls specifically for tweens so they could bring them back into the market.

Barbie was dominating the toy market, but by the 1990s, she was considered babyish.

Barbie was also criticized by minority ethnic groups for “lacking diversity” and outshining her more “diverse” friends. To many, Barbie was a sign of “White Supremacy”. After all, she was invented at a very tense racial time (1959).

Since the 1970s, feminist writers began examining entertainment designed for girls. Barbie came under fire several times throughout generations of feminists.

Feminists have been wanting to encourage self-love since then. Barbie was criticized for having unrealistic body proportions (like bigger than average boobs, a tiny waist, super thin lips, full hair, tiny feet, etc), body features that didn’t seem realistically attainable for every woman.

Bratz wasn’t the answer to everything missing in the doll industry (according to feminists), but they did solve the “diversity” problem.

The Bratz were released wearing “urban” fashions, a huge trend among youths at the Turn of the 21st Century since the rise in popularity of African American hip-hop and rap artists and labels in the 1990s. White people had also jumped on the urban trends (thanks to groups like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys). Bratz had bigger lips than the average doll. They wore the “latest trends”, which often included cropped tops, baggy pants, and mini skirts, as well as tons of makeup. The dolls came in a variety of different “colors” and hair textures even if their actual ethnic backgrounds were left ambiguous.

I was a tween at the time of the Bratz debut in 2001, the target demographic. I was one of the children that stopped playing with dolls at 10 years old (thought I still liked to collect them as a hobby). I would say books, video games, anime, and internet consumed my life rather than pop stars and MTV. I still liked certain doll brands, like Magic Attic Club and American Girl, but I never played with the actual dolls. I mostly bought the books, not the dolls. I completely lost interest in the regular Barbie doll (though Generation Girl Dolls peaked my interest for a short time).

To me, as someone who lost interest in playing with Barbies at 10, Bratz were amazing. As an African American, I was happy to see dolls with full lips, full thick hair, and urban fashions commonly worn in my own black community (and not the cookie-cutter suburbanite outfits I often saw on my Barbies as a kid in the 1990s).

That’s why it was perplexing to find that most of the articles kept describing the dolls as “oversexualized” and “materialistic”. I couldn’t understand it at 11 years old. “What’s so sexual about them?” I kept asking myself. Their clothes were cool and urban to me, not sexual. I couldn’t see how baggy pants and beanie caps (included in the 1st edition of Bratz) were even “sexual” in nature. The dolls carried a lot of sass and attitude. They seemed bold and confident to me. The quality was impeccable and very realistic at the time. If anything, these dolls were gender-defying for me! They were not prim, perfect, pink, and prissy. They said “So what!” to fashion norms and boundaries that told girls to be “presentable, lest you tempt the manfolk”.

It truly surprised me to see so many feminists set against the Bratz.

As I got older, I began to understand the feminists’ concerns a little more than I did as a child, but I still don’t agree with many of their assumptions about the Bratz.

Let me give you a little history about myself.

I’m not your typical doll collector. I’m not only an adult, I’m an androgynous tomboy. As a child, I was a complete tomboy. My parents, particularly my mother, would often dress me in dresses, but she was very strict about how I should eat when dressed up, how I had to wear each article of clothing perfectly, and she schooled me on the people I had to please (particularly friends and neighbors). I got verbally (and sometimes physically) assaulted at times for wearing the wrong shoes with the wrong outfit. As I got older, because of these experiences, I began to reject social femininity. When I got more control of my fashion choices, I made sure to avoid dresses and skirts as much as possible.  I became mostly uninterested in clothes and makeup. I prefer to dress comfortably. I became convinced that “femininity” was all about conforming socially, pleasing others, and dressing the part in every situation. Social femininity was translated as “threatening” to me.

So it might make people wonder how I could be interested in such a fashion-conscious doll line like the Bratz.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t see what many of these news journalists and feminists saw in the Bratz. When I first saw the 2001 1st Edition Bratz, I saw their art versions, which displayed four girls in urbanized fashions in the sickest artwork ever. They all wore baggy jeans and sporty crop tops! If anything they looked like tomboys with makeup on!

The clash of femininity and tomboyishness made me feel thrilled and excited. Bratz did renew my interest in fashion, but not as a way to please or impress others. Bratz made me realize that fashion could be used to express oneself, to express ideas, to express art. Bratz inspired me to take my boyish looks to the next level which was why I got interested in different androgynous looks. I became unafraid to look different. I became unafraid of the controversy.

I was an outcast in middle school and high school. I was different. I was not only a tomboy, but a Black girl who enjoyed world music (like Japanese and Turkish music), among many genres including rock and roll, and enjoyed anime and video games. I never dressed up, so everyone thought I was weird. I looked like a 10 year old because I was so petite and never did my hair in the latest styles (which made me look even younger). I wore glasses and didn’t care for contacts. I would wear the same clothes year after year. I didn’t care, as long as they were clean. Many people thought I was a lesbian because I didn’t date in high school. Most of the guys thought I was too skinny to be attractive anyway. I didn’t have curves. When they discovered I wasn’t a lesbian, that confused them even more.

When Bratz were introduced, they were just the kind of thing I was looking for in the world. The Bratz not only renewed my interest in fashion but in the fashion doll industry in general. The dolls also helped me come to terms with my own individuality.

I always loved dolls, even in high school. I didn’t play with them; I just liked collecting them and taking pictures. I collected a lot of 18″ dolls mostly. After the Bratz came out, I was looking for fashion dolls like them. There were few dolls like them though.

I wasn’t ashamed of liking dolls, though I’m certain many teenagers would’ve been. I think after dealing with being forced to fit standards as a child, I had this counter-culturalist in me just waiting to break free. I didn’t think I was feminine at all, and so I rejected it in myself and in others.

Even though they were just dolls, Bratz helped me understand myself. My interest in them revealed something about myself. I realized I hadn’t lost touch with my femininity or my own sense of woman, I just had a different kind and that was okay. I realized that there were many ways to define  “being a woman”.

Bratz helped me at a difficult time, when I felt like I had to fit all of these standards. Unlike me, Bratz could do whatever they wanted to do. They had the courage and bravery, despite the backlash, to just be. It was obvious by their outrageous fashions, their exciting movies, and strong music that they just didn’t care. Much of their music still inspires me, like Bratz Forever Diamondz “Yasmin”‘s “Hang On”.

To me, the Bratz had a very strong empowering message of teaching girls to be confident and comfortable with who they are, no matter what anyone says.

When I saw their outfits, though, they seemed to wear mostly costumes rather than “regular” fashions. They reflected the latest styles with a twist. I was impressed with the detail, the various accessories, and the quality (hair that felt soft and thick, jeans made from actual jean material, etc), as well as the creative and bold themes.

Bratz also set many trends and broke many fashion rules. I liked Bratz because they reflected my own liberation from society’s norms. And at the time, they were the only dolls doing this.

Nowadays, there are many dolls empowering girls in many different ways. Many dolls out today have been inspired from the Bratz. Still, I have a special place in my heart for these dolls because they encouraged me to be bold and different, to be innovative and creative, and to think outside of the box.

My other favorite part about Bratz was that a blonde white girl wasn’t at the center. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with Barbies, too, which I’ll go into further later. But Bratz offered me something I never could let go of, something I could relate to more personally.

Bratz had a variety of different characters eventually, of many shades, with most being dolls of color. I was so happy when MGA released Felicia, an actual dark-skinned doll that was designed beautifully and stylish! Many other Black characters have been in the Bratz franchise as well.

Sasha looks gorgeous in her “natural” hair!

Even though the Bratz dolls came in many shades, Black and Latino culture initially influenced much of the doll brand. From the styles, to the music (as you could tell above), to the full lips and thick hair, down to the urban fashion, Bratz were meant to appeal to a wider ethnic demographic.

In the early 2000s, gangster rap was just sizzling down. Many people outside of the black community (and even some of the old-school generation within) looked down on “urban” fashions and felt it represented “deviant” culture. This is partially why Bratz carried even more controversy at debut. Many people compared them to “urban thugs”. But most of the fashion was widely accepted among black and Latino/Hispanic cultures.

The more rebellious Bratz appeared, the more I loved them. Did it mean I was a bad girl and that I didn’t want to follow any rules? Of course not. But I did recognize that I don’t have to let others define me or decide the type of clothing I needed to wear socially. The Bratz showed me that I can represent alternatives in fashion and let that make its own statement.

Of course, we do have to consider some things socially when picking our clothes, but adding a little creativity and imagination to our wardrobe also adds to our individuality (along with our personalities). Bratz taught me that.

Eventually, Bratz brought in wild lines like Tokyo-ago-go, Space Angelz, Rock Angelz, Pretty N Punk, and many others to the mix. That just gave me more courage to speak out and embrace my individuality.

Some Feminists’ Issues with the Bratz

It baffles me how many people don’t realize just how influential feminists and moms were when it came to the Bratz’s 2015 transformation and sudden decline. Yes, other factors contributed to the Bratz dolls’ decline in popularity (such as the ongoing court battles between Mattel, owners of Barbie, and MGA, owners of Bratz). But the recent comeback, as well as the one in 2010, was obviously specifically “watered down” to appeal to moms and feminists, which didn’t go over so well with many of the fans of the brand.

The moment MGA released the first batch of dolls in 2015, MGA shared a facebook post called New Bratz dolls Tell Girls “It’s Good to be Yourself”. The article states that the dolls give a message that “won’t make parents cringe”. MGA must have realized that moms and feminists didn’t approve of the original Bratz and they wanted to ease the criticisms. Women have a lot of power and influence in the retail industry, believe it or not. MGA posted that article to show how Bratz have become more “innocent” in the last couple of years. They tried to put less makeup on the dolls, they made the outfits cuter, and made the eyes bigger so they wouldn’t look sassy or like they have “attitude”. It still didn’t work. Feminists still felt they were “underwhelming“. All it did was make the fans less interested in them and made the feminists criticize them even more.

The few feminists that are/were supportive of the Bratz have mostly been supportive of Bratz’s ethnic diversity and “ethnic” features (such as large lips, thick hair, and slanted eyes).

But most of these feminists overlook any of the positive regarding these dolls.

After reviewing many articles from feminists about the Bratz, I’ve learned that they take several issues with them (issues I find confusing):

  1. Their usage of makeup
  2. Their “sexualized” clothes and features
  3. Their unrealistic body proportions
  4. Their name
  5. Their “materialism”
  6. Their slogan

These Bratz dolls got an amazing feminist makeover

Tree Change

This artist is giving Bratz an awesome feminist Makeover

Bratz Is Not Happy That I Said Their Dolls Do Molly 

The Unsluttification Of Bratz?

Over-sexed and over here: The ‘tarty’ Bratz Doll

New Bratz dolls Tell Girls “It’s Good to be Yourself”

Read more:

How to Explain Monster High and Other Hyper-Sexualized Dolls to Young Kids

Now, many of these comparisons are made right alongside the Barbie doll. As mentioned before, feminists’ first gripe with the fashion doll industry came with Barbie. Barbie has been pretty influential in girls’ lives and she has been an icon of fashion and materialism. She has been a staple of femininity for even adult women. Many feminists have examined how Barbie influenced girls and were afraid the Bratz, who seemed to carry some of the same “problems”, would influence girls much the same way.

But here’s where I think some of these feminists miss the mark.

Yes, sometimes girls often imitate their dolls in various ways and grow up to be inspired by these dolls. However, from my experience working with children and being a child during the Barbie and Bratz era, I would definitely say it depends on the context and the way the dolls are presented. It also depends on one’s own life experiences. Barbie and Bratz gave me two different vibes and that influenced my perception of the dolls, myself, and womanhood in general.

I don’t think Barbie and Bratz give a similar message at all. I think the feminists that think they do only know that the Bratz are considered fashion dolls, but know nothing else about them otherwise. These feminists may have seen one or two lines with the Bratz in more “conventional” fashion, but more than likely they didn’t dig deeper than that.

Let me explain why Bratz and Barbie are so very different and how this affects each of their messages to girls.

Bratz Vs. Barbie

I will share the history of both brands a little more because I believe the very inspiration behind the dolls shows how each was meant to affect girls.

As mentioned before, Bratz was designed to represent a “cartoonish” and yet stylish look, while also reflecting underground subcultures in fashion. Their inspiration came from an ad in a teen magazine.

Barbie was thought up by Ruth Handler, a woman who often watched her daughter Barbara pretend her paper dolls were adults. Ruth saw an opening in the market for adult-designed dolls rather than the usual baby dolls and paper dolls available.

When visiting Germany, she saw the Bild Lilli Doll, based off the popular German comic strip character. Bild Lilli was a beautiful bombshell woman who worked but was not above using men to suit her aims. The comic strip and the dolls were designed for adults, but kids would often take the dolls and mix and match her fashion.

Arguably, Barbie is the inspiration for all fashion dolls that came afterwards, so all fashion dolls will be watched by skeptics. But the intention behind the doll is significant when it comes to the art and presentation of the doll.

Barbie was designed to be an adult figure for girls to imagine and aspire to be. Initially, she was presented as an ideal adult female figure (more so from the White upper-class perspective).

I can honestly tell you, as a 6 and 7 year old, that was exactly what I thought of when I played with Barbie. Barbie may not look totally realistic in her proportions, but she looks realistic enough from a child’s perspective, and she looks realistic enough for women to “aspire” to “obtain” her look. Sure, her breasts are bigger than the average woman’s, especially on someone that thin, but breasts like that didn’t seem impossible to me as a child. In fact, Barbie looked like many of the blonde women I saw on Baywatch (which I often caught glimpses of on tv in the 1990s).

Thus, it was obvious in my mind’s eye that Barbie fit a perceived beauty standard.

In my mind, Barbie had several differences from me. She was blonde, tall, white, and wore clothes only the wealthy could wear. I never aspired to be blonde and white like her, however she reminded me of all the adult women around me. I didn’t see too many women who deviated from the “norm” socially as a child. I would always imagine doing what my mother did when playing with my Barbies.

When I played with Barbie, I didn’t see myself, and that influenced how I felt about her as I got older. As I got older, I saw that I was not growing into an adult like Barbie. I began to disconnect with the doll. I saw my mother and everything she was: a glamorous working woman who could do anything she put her mind to.  I didn’t see much substance in Barbie at all, though. And that may imply that I really didn’t see much substance in the women around me. It implies it and it is true.

However, even though I couldn’t relate to her, I admired her pink empire. I longed to live her wealthy, high-class life, a life my broke Black behind would have a difficult time achieving.

In the 1990s, she came with literally everything. But she had no “real” set personality, no real individuality. All of her friends were just ethnic versions of her that you could hardly find in stores. They literally often wore the same outfits as Barbie, though it would sometimes be in a different color.

Yea, her hair seems nicer in the picture, but the actual doll is not the same!

As a kid, I wanted to be more “successful” like her, but I knew that I was too different to want to be like her completely. I wasn’t girly enough to pull of being a Barbie. Many of my other friends wanted to have straight, blonde hair like Barbie. They wanted the perfect body when they grew up, like she had. They wanted to drive pink cars like Barbie. They wanted to live in mansions like she did. They wanted a handsome boyfriend like Ken. Many of them ended up doing those things in the future, perfectly fitting the social package. I can amusingly say that they often look like clones of one another, trying to outdo each other when it comes to the latest trends.

Bratz, in contrast, never had a body to “aspire” to obtain. They literally looked like cartoon characters. I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting heads and feet as big as theirs. In fact, big heads and big feet are normally considered ugly in America! The Bratz made it look cool. As someone who had big feet, I appreciated that. But I never heard anyone “aspire” to have a big head or big feet like them. It became clear that their proportions were not designed to fit an “ideal” but rather they literally were made to be disproportionate.

Sure, they were skinny. But their breasts were not large. Even being skinny, no kid would honestly think their bodies are normal enough to pay attention. My friends and I would always make fun of the Bratz heads and feet. We didn’t sigh with envy, that’s for certain. But the outfits were super creative. It was hard not to anticipate what they would think of next.

Each doll was different in some way from the other. Not only were there dolls of various colors, but each doll had their own wicked fashion sense and personality. They were very individual and not outshined by the “white” doll. The four core dolls were treated equally at debut, which I appreciated.

The Bratz were not designed to fit the usual beauty standard. They were meant to reflect the underground cultures, cultures that have developed a sense of community to help them cope with being an outcast. Therefore, in my mind, Bratz produced the opposite response of wanting to “imitate” and rather encouraged individuals like me to be “themselves” and strike out boldly. At 11, I was thinking that if each Bratz girl looks different, and has her own passion for fashion, that means all of us are different. We don’t all have to look and be the same. It encouraged me to find my own unique sense of style, not be the doll I saw in front of me (unlike with Barbie).

Barbie’s other media entertainment, like her movies, showed her as a gorgeous, glamorous lady who could do anything. Bratz movies showed four individual sassy teens who liked to hang out, dress up at times, dabble in their hobbies, and go on amazing adventures. The Bratz never seemed as shallow as Barbie.

Bratz Boyz were a stark contrast to Ken. Though they are all fashion dolls, the Bratz boyz weren’t just accessories for the girls. They had their own lines, several individual ethnic appearances and personalities, many different hair textures and styles, and just as much detail as the girls. Boys were not ashamed to admire them. Girls saw more than just boyfriends in these dolls. In fact, only one of the main characters “crush” on a Bratz Boy. But that boy has his own interests, his own personality, and his own style.

With the differences settled, let’s address these issues feminists have with the Bratz directly.

“Too Much Makeup”

Feminists across the board have been very critical of the Bratz’s overuse of makeup.

Some feminists believe that the Bratz have perfectly made-up faces, which teaches girls that they have to wear makeup to look perfect.

Among feminists, makeup in general has been controversial. Feminists are determined to break the social expectation that encourages girls to be too interested in their appearance. Unlike men, women are often expected to appear perfect, without flaws. This has been linked to women being treated like objects rather than creatures of “substance”. Many jobs around the world won’t hire women or will fire women if they don’t wear makeup. Feminists have been pushing for women to embrace their natural features and colors without a “mask”. They have been pushing for businesses to remove the makeup standards/policies or equalize them (pushing men to also wear more makeup).

One look at the first Bratz dolls, and a feminist would definitely think the Bratz’s usage of makeup further encourages these harsh makeup standards in young ladies. As someone who doesn’t wear makeup, I completely understand this concern.

On the other hand, feminists also preach against body-policing and believe that women should be free to indulge in whatever they enjoy. If a woman truly enjoys makeup, does that make her a product of the patriarchal system and less feminist?

Some feminists recognize that makeup can be used artistically. Many feminists believe that if women truly enjoy makeup, and don’t look at it as a necessary tool to hide their “flaws”, then it isn’t necessarily anti-feminist.

Some feminists don’t think women should be controlled to either extreme considering some companies also control how much makeup a woman wears, which isn’t fair either.

Still, there are feminists out there who believe a real feminist would not support makeup at all and they often do shame women who wear it.

Admittedly, Bratz are designed with a ton of makeup on. However, I think it would be unfair to compare Bratz’s use of makeup to other fashion dolls’ usage, like Barbie’s, or any other usage of makeup that is deemed designed to make someone look “perfect”.

When looking at Barbie, for example, Barbie’s “makeup” has consistently been painted on her face to give her the ideal packaged look for every generation. She is literally considered “gorgeous” with it on. She has the perfectly colored cheeks, darkened eyelashes, and perfectly lined lipstick. Her face is clear of blemishes, moles, freckles, and any other “imperfections” she could possibly have. Her eyebrows are perfectly arched and tweaked. Even the best makeup artist can’t get a real girl’s face that beat. Barbie is plastic perfection. Any girl who admires her will want to be plastic perfection as well. Her made-up beauty fits a conventional standard, yet no woman can ever really look like her 100%. Real women get older. Real women have wrinkles, freckles, beauty marks, moles, scraggly eyebrows, and all the other distinct features. And yet, real women do make themselves up to look like Barbie all the time.

Bratz’s use of makeup is/was entirely different.

For starters, the makeup wasn’t designed to hide any “imperfections”. The Bratz doll Yasmin had a mole under her left eye. Her makeup didn’t hide that mole. Other Bratz dolls had moles and freckles, too.

Though, admittedly, a lot of the Bratz makeup was polished, there were many times their makeup was experimental and could hardly ever really be called “perfect”.

Take Bratz Space Angelz Cloe for example.

What is perfect about her makeup? Nothing at all! Her lipstick is asymmetrical, hardly what I would call “designed to appeal”. It would be fair to argue that anyone who wears their makeup like this is looking for attention, but it’s hardly the sexual or attractive kind. While Barbie’s makeup was clearly created so she could look pleasing out in public, this makeup is hardly what I would call public-friendly.

Any child who imitated this would end up getting stared down by the public, and maybe even teased and mocked. I’m sure most children were/are aware of that. But it’s clear that the makeup is different and unique. Keeping that in mind, it’s easy to see that the Bratz are giving a different message with their makeup. They are showing just how artistic and creative it can be, even if it isn’t necessarily attractive! They are showing that it’s okay to do something different with makeup! It definitely doesn’t give the message that girls have to wear makeup to appear normal. In fact, the above doll line made makeup seem very unusual, almost abnormal. Even makeup’s rules were bent by the Bratz dolls!

Much of the Bratz’s other makeup was used to match up with the theme or subculture they represented. Pretty N Punk, for example, represented punk culture. Many punk princesses wear dark makeup to show their edge and fierceness. They don’t wear it to appear “attractive” or sexy or perfect. Male rock stars often wear eyeliner and black lipstick, too, and I’m sure it’s not to appear more attractive and perfect.

Most guys might think these styles are cool, but hardly any of them would consider these girls “bombshells”. It’s easy to tell that their makeup was purely designed to better make a statement rather than to appear perfect, without imperfections.

Again, Bratz used makeup in a variety of ways, even in more conventional ways. But because of their constant changes, they never managed to give the impression that they wore makeup to please others. They never gave the message that a girl had to wear makeup to appear attractive. They literally seemed to just be having fun with it. As a tween, I liked that.

Bratz may not have been the fresh-faced, innocent-looking, demure dolls mommies wanted, but they weren’t exactly anti-feminist either.

By feminists criticizing the Bratz usage of makeup, it’s as if they are placing a rule on who gets to be a feminist. So, are they implying women who enjoy trying different makeup tricks aren’t feminists? This leads to greater questions about modern feminism.

Sure, makeup was created by men and is a reminder of the “patriarchy”. But so is everything in our societies. Does that mean makeup is bad and can’t be used for positive and creative purposes? Absolutely not!

Overall, I’m not sure where some of these feminists are going when they attack the usage of makeup on these dolls. I think most of them are purely ignorant about the brand.

Bratz Are “Over-sexualized”

All the articles I’ve read from feminists, especially from Jezebel, have said that the Bratz are “hyper-sexualized” dolls. What exactly makes a doll sexualized? Short skirts? Cropped tops? Makeup? Pouty Lips? Glossy eyes?

And if they do, what exactly makes these things sexualized?

They are only sexualized when people sexualize them. To say that a doll with a short skirt is sexualized is indirectly saying a woman who wears a short skirt is sexualizing herself.

That would go against most feminists’ mantra: “My clothing is not my consent”.

Haven’t we gone beyond policing a woman’s attire and attributing her wardrobe to sexual and physical attention from the opposite sex? So why is it condemned when dolls reflect just that attitude?

Arguing about dolls being over-sexualized may be more appropriate for Barbie to a certain degree because of the “intent” of some of her lines. Most of her early attire is for the physical attention of her boyfriend Ken (though even she has moved beyond that point). Barbie has been a sex icon for most men for centuries. She was inspired by a “Call-Girl” doll, Bild Lilli, a doll meant for adults. Barbie has literally had lingerie lines. She has had “pregnant” dolls.

Barbie, sex icon

Sure, Pregnant Midge isn’t wearing a fitted skirt and a lot of makeup. But she’s pregnant! This opens the doors to other controversial subjects that kids really aren’t mature enough to be exposed to (though children often witness their mothers pregnant all the time).

Barbie is meant to be a blonde, gorgeous adult woman who does “adult” things like have sex and get pregnant. And she allows girls to imagine their lives as “adult” women through playtime with her. Children who play with her are reinventing an adult lifestyle. Sometimes, this produces controversy.

But even with Barbie, should we police all of her fashion styles and attribute it solely to sex and seeking male attention? Not all of it.

If we want to talk about something being sexualized or “hyper-sexualized”, we have to consider the context of the lines the dolls are released in.

The Bratz, on the other hand, have never initiated a sexual response to anyone who played or collected them. The context of their clothing, the intent of their lines, have never been to produce a sexual response. They were intended for a tween and teen audience. They were meant to showcase the latest fashions and the most revolutionary styles out in the cultural world.

In fact, if you look up “Bratz as a sex icon” on Google, hardly anything sexual comes up except these feminists’ articles! While Barbie has many photos of a sexual nature, Bratz don’t!

Most men do not see Bratz as sexually attractive. First off, their bodies are too disproportionate to even be considered “real”.

If you want to argue that Bratz’s skirts are too short, short enough to look like underwear, let’s consider the fact that Bratz hardly wore skirts in the past.

To me, the Bratz have mostly been presented as “fashionable”, not sexy. And if fashionable is considered sexy, women and men have a problem. Clothing itself is a problem. Taste and preference is a problem.

Dolls are designed to mimic the real world around us in some ways. If we don’t want dolls to mimic the styles we find “sexualized”, then we as women need to stop wearing makeup and fashionable clothes that are too sexualized. We need to go back to the point where our skirts were below the ankles and our collars were high. But feminists fought to move away from that point. Why? Because it was uncomfortable to walk in those long, horrible skirts. The collars were itchy and hot in the summer. And it didn’t stop women from being objectified or from being looked at as sex objects.

What is considered sexualized is subjective. In the above Bratz photos, I’m still trying to scan them for any hint of sex and I don’t understand it. Someone else may be able to spot it. If some of us, like myself, can’t spot it as easily, that means it’s not as “overt” as these feminists make it out to be.

Arguably, feminists come from all walks of life, from many different religious and moral backgrounds. Some feminists are Muslim or Hindu and believe in a certain form of modesty. But there are many village women out in the world who often go topless or wear crop tops, and it isn’t considered morally indecent. It’s mostly considered practical in the heat!

If we can honor that women come from all walks of life, we should also be able to understand that the Bratz represent those women that actually enjoy using fashion as a form of self-expression and connecting with group culture, especially sub-cultures. We should understand that the Bratz wear their short skirts and crop tops and think nothing of it.

The short skirts that they wear are simply fashion statements. The Bratz’s legs seem freer, which is why the Bratz give off the image that they are liberated from societal norms. But their lines are hardly ever to cater to male or female sexual fantasies.

The Bratz do often wear cropped tops. But cropped tops aren’t always worn for sexual attention. If we’re going to say that, we might as well condemn every woman who wears one in the summer, on the beach, or at home relaxing. Bikinis should be outlawed then. They’re revealing. If that’s the case, return to the 1800s idea of “fashion” when bathing suits weighed 8 lbs!

But women will not regress. Women have many reasons for wearing the fashions they wear and it is not always to seek male attention. Feminists are the ones who’ve educated the world on that. So why can’t they accept the Bratz dolls for wearing it?

The Bratz’s cropped tops are no different from the ones sported by empowering and feminist female pop stars and figures today.

And yet, most feminists’ honor these women as strong and empowering influences on girls. Are Alessia Cara and Pink seeking male attention with their cropped tops?

It’s true that fashion sends a message to others about us, even if it doesn’t tell others everything. However, if we look at the context of the lines produced, we can clearly see the dolls’ intended nature, even if they’re wearing cropped tops and mini skirts. From the Bratz, we can obviously see they are fierce, independent, and revolutionary dolls that simply want to take fashion to the next outrageous level.

When we look at Bratz fashion lines like Tokyo-ago-go or Pretty N’ punk, what message are the lines sending?

Bratz Tokyo a-go-go tells me that the Bratz are ready for a wild and fun Tokyo adventure, not a date with a hot guy. Their cropped tops don’t hint at any sexual message in this line. Pretty N Punk tells me that the Bratz are ready to listen to some rock music and party at a rock club.

Neither of these lines give the message that they want a male’s attention or that they even want to look sexy at all.

Many of the feminists that complain about the Bratz often complain about anything “too revealing”. If you wear skinny jeans, you’re sexualizing yourself to some of these feminists!

That’s why they were on my list of 7 Feminists That Make Me Cringe.

These feminists also associate makeup with sexualization. I think makeup makes people look older, especially children, but that doesn’t mean it’s specifically for looking older and hotter to the opposite sex. There is kiddie makeup out in the world that’s toned down and it’s a lot of fun to share makeup moments with mom. Spa dates aren’t sexualizing to a child.

Face paint can be a form of makeup as well. Face paint isn’t sexualizing. Bratz have often used makeup that way.

What really kills me about these feminists’ accusations is how they equate “features” to sexualization. I find it interesting how “big lips” and “glossy eyes” are associated with sexualization. Bratz have a vague “ethnic” look about them. They were meant to relate, again, to a wider ethnic demographic.

But some of these feminists have associated the Bratz’s big lips and eyes with sexualization. What?

Black women have bigger lips than other races. Are they sexualizing themselves when they wear lip gloss or lipstick on their lips? I think this goes back to a Eurocentric standard of modesty, where thin lips and big eyes are considered “innocent”, while full lips and almond-shaped eyes (more similar to other ethnic groups) are considered immodest and ugly.

I can understand how the Bratz could encourage thin-lip girls to get surgery just to blow their lips up. However, thin-lip dolls can just as easily encourage big-lip girls to get surgery to reduce their lips. I think the Bratz, who are widely looked at as unrealistic in form and design, make big heads, feet, and lips, once considered undesirable traits, more acceptable.

I grew up having big feet. Big feet run in my family. Many of the women in my family wear size 11. The smallest feet in my family have worn size 9! Most people have called me “long feet”. When the Bratz were released, I didn’t feel so bad about it. Their feet were obviously exaggerated though.

To me, the eyes showed attitude and confidence, not flirtation and sexuality. So if a woman glosses her eyes, she’s trying to flirt with someone? This contradicts everything feminists stand for!

 Unrealistic Bodies

Feminists have attacked dolls with skinny bodies for years. This is because many are afraid girls will strive to have unrealistic body weights, starving themselves or getting surgery just to appear skinny.

Bratz have very skinny arms and legs.

I can understand why feminists fear this. After all, many people desired to have Barbie’s figure after being exposed to her. However, we have to also analyze what the standard of beauty was before Barbie was released. Being slim, blonde, with thin lips, perky breasts, and blue eyes were always standards of beauty since the 1950s and 1960s. The media played it up. Barbie just reflected that standard in a perfect doll form.

Bratz’s body design never reflected a particular standard of beauty from the very beginning, skinny or not. No one ever desired to have large feet and huge heads (at least in the west) with a skinny body. It never has been an ideal (at least in the west) and never will be.

If we look at Bratz as a doll brand separately from Barbie, objectively, Bratz don’t look realistic enough to begin with to cause children to want to look like them in real life. That’s like assuming little girls would want to look like a Powerpuff Girl just because they like the cartoon. Children are smarter than that. They know when something looks unrealistic.

Barbie and Jem dolls had more realistic appearances, appearances that seemed to fit media standards, so I can understand how individuals could strive to look like them. Bratz dolls have larger than life heads with huge feet. They look like they walked out of carnival fun house mirrors.

If you’re looking to bring body politics into the Bratz world, you’ve got a few things to consider.

First off,  keeping in mind their cartoonish look, they aren’t supposed to have realistic bodies. They are supposed to look weird and sort of funny.

Second, you have to consider what kids see when they look at dolls that obviously look disproportionate. I think children get the same vibe from these dolls that they do from characters in My Little Pony. Humans don’t have purple and pink skin, so we can’t be like the Equestria Girls. That’s the vibe I got as an 11 year old when it came to Bratz. In fact, I thought it was cool that they looked like funny, but edgy cartoon characters. Being skinny was not even a thought. I’m skinny, but their type of “skinny” was like watching Anamaniacs characters walk around.

Therefore, it’s simple to conclude that their “skinny” bodies do not honestly matter because the bodies aren’t mean to reflect real bodies at all. They could’ve easily had thick bodies with extremely small heads and feet. It would still look like figures in a fun house mirror, not a real body representing real figures.

The only things the Bratz mimic about humans are their fashion, accessories, hobbies, and personalities. Just like cartoon characters.

Please don’t come and tell me that Gumball toys, based off of the cartoon, make kids want to become clouds, cacti, and fish. Please. Those characters obviously look strange. The Bratz are more similar to them. Kids obviously know that the Bratz bodies aren’t normal and they recognize that they would get teased if they looked that way.

It’s not the same with Barbie or other fashion dolls like her, like Jem. If kids looked like them, they would be “praised” by beauty-conscious individuals.

“Bratz” for a name

Moms may have more of a problem with the name than feminists, but a few feminists have expressed their disdain for the name as well.

Sure, a “brat” is someone who is usually depicted as spoiled, misbehaved, and demanding. It doesn’t sound pleasant over all.

But considering Da Brat was one of my favorite female rappers in the 1990s, I didn’t have a problem with it. Like Da Brat, the name seemed designed to represent their urban, tough, and sassy attitude. It reflected their nonconforming nature. To me, Bratz represented individuality and the beauty of diversity (in style, ethnicity, and interests). The name just made their sass pop.

Da Brat took gangsta to a whole new level with her tomboyish looks!

Again, I can see how this makes the former generation uneasy. After all, they’re still getting used to gay marriage. They wouldn’t be used to a name like “Bratz” being used more positively. To the older generation, nonconformity is dangerous.

But as advocates of nonconformity, it shocks me that there are so many feminists who are so against the Bratz, name and all. I get that we want our little girls to be pure, wholesome, and solid citizens in society. But there should also be room for girls to be bold, innovative, expressive, and revolutionary. I think hijacking the name Brats, adding the “z”, and the halo is the definition of revolutionary and innovative.

Their Emphasis on Materialism

Bratz came with hundreds of accessories and clothes throughout their run. In many of their movies and in their TV show, they are often depicted shopping for outfits for each occasion.

This leads many feminists to believe that the Bratz encourage materialism.

I believe that, as humans, things are apart of our life. Sometimes, things have significant meaning in our lives. In many cultures, family heirlooms are passed through the family and they end up having personal meaning.

Of course, the Bratz’s accessories aren’t as meaningful as a family heirloom, but their items do reflect items we use or see in real life. It’s kind of cool to see miniature-sized items.

Material things are especially a part of being in the 1st world west. I do believe that our lives have been changed for the better by modern conveniences such as cell phones and tablets. I believe that makeup and fashion constantly updates, which says a lot about our culture, so people do spend a lot of money to look good. But I don’t think these things make a person bad or materialistic.

A materialistic person is someone who only cares about material things and can’t live without those material things. The Bratz have shown many layers throughout their shows and movies. Though they do love to look good, they also enjoy their hobbies and connections with friends and family.

Sure, the Bratz have shown that they love to shop. However, they often emphasized being resourceful or finding innovative ways to get the items they wanted. Shopping in bargain bins or designing their own styles were just some of the things Bratz have been shown doing to express their resourcefulness.

The Bratz have shown interest in other things such as sports, music, science, animals, among other things. I don’t think they’ve emphasized material things all the time. Furthermore, I think their use of material things haven’t necessarily made them seem spoiled or privileged.

However, there is nothing wrong with wanting or owning nice things and trying to enhance the quality of your life by collecting something you love or enjoy.

I personally find the Bratz items to be fascinating and enjoyable for playtime. Who wants a doll that comes with nothing? Kids want to bring the world of their dolls to life with mini models. Mini items add to the overall experience each doll line brings.

If we want to question whether we are instilling materialistic values on our children, we shouldn’t be buying them expensive I-phones and tablets. I’ve seen worse behavior come from children demanding the latest technology than from the influence of a Bratz doll.

“Passion For Fashion”= Obsessed with Appearance

Feminists believe the slogan suggests that the Bratz are completely focused on outfits and nothing else substantial.

But isn’t it possible for an individual to be interested in fashion, as a practice, and still have substance?

And why can’t there be substance in fashion?

I can understand if people mostly focus on fashion just to be pleasing or attractive to others. But the Bratz use fashion for many purposes, mostly to showcase many ideas and subcultures, not just to look “pleasing” or “attractive”. Quite frankly, many of the Bratz’s outfits don’t look pleasing. Midnight Dance, Pretty N Punk, and Space Angelz are not really of the “pleasing” sort, though some of the Bratz’s outfits are.

It’s clear the the doll brand is emphasizing not being concerned with pleasing others. Bratz are encouraging individuals to enjoy fashion without fitting into fashion molds. Fashion doesn’t always equal attraction and attraction doesn’t always equal fashion.

I believe the one thing that is lacking among girls today is passion. Girls are not encouraged to be passionate about the things they like and want. They are encouraged to scatter their interests, which makes it difficult for them to master a practice. The Bratz encourage girls to be all about their passions, despite what others think.

I also find it odd for feminists to be against having a “passion for fashion” when we consider the fact that the majority of fashion designers are male!

Females are still in the minority

I think the Bratz’s kind of passion for fashion encourages girls to be future designers and inventors. They don’t encourage girls just to buy clothes, but to also come up with their own ideas, to think outside of the box, and to express themselves in unique ways.

Using myself as an example, I don’t think I would’ve embraced my own gender expression as well had I not been introduced to the Bratz dolls. I don’t think I would’ve thought it was possible to see the individuality in fashion. I don’t think I would’ve found my own social identity.

When feminists began criticizing the Bratz, it affected the overall design of Bratz. MGA made things worse by dragging the brand into court with Barbie’s company Mattel, but feminists began growing in influence and they are the reason the latest Bratz design changed into something long-time fans could hardly respect or appreciate. MGA expressed that they wanted Bratz to have a “better image” for girls. Who made the Bratz image look bad? Why would they decide that the Bratz image wasn’t good enough? Someone had to be criticizing the brand in order for them to make that statement on Facebook. We have to acknowledge that feminists had some hand in the drastic change.

In my opinion, Bratz moved from a more ethnic look and vibe to a more “Eurocentric”-friendly design.

I know it seems like I learned a little too much from a line of dolls, and it may seem that I invest too much time appreciating these dolls, but that is partially why I have a special connection with this brand. I really feel if feminists’ had really and truly tried to understand the meaning behind the Bratz, if they’d actually given them a chance, they would see that the Bratz are/were not too far off from feminists’ goals.

I just hope that when, or rather IF, the Bratz return, they will return to their original authentic design. I hope they truly produce something earth-shattering, regardless of what anyone says. Even if feminists disagree, for me, that’s truly empowering.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think/thought about the Bratz controversy, feminists’ involvement in it, and the future of Bratz.


19 Responses to “Bratz dolls VS. Feminists: “Oversexualized” or “Empowering”?”

  1. Kimmy P (@shocKimmy) 2017/06/01 at 19:58 #

    My greatest hangup with Bratz is that the characters seem to lack aspiration. None of them dream of being something outside of the arts & none of them seem to strive to be the best they can be. There’s no passion or compassion. It begs the qurstion: how do they have all this luxury & junk? Who pays for all of this? They do appear spoiled. Do any of them know what it means to work or give back.


    • Love&Light 2017/06/03 at 02:03 #

      They are fashion dolls. It’s not that deep…


      • Kimmy P (@shocKimmy) 2017/06/05 at 11:37 #

        The dolls are still characters. They aren’t babies or children. In the eyes of most who play with them, they are teenagers/young adults. They own cars. If one is mature enough to operate a 10k+ piece of equipment, hopefully there is more substance than basically being a “Stupid Spoiled Whore”. The characters should be complex to reflect the gravity of adulthood.


      • generationnext 2017/06/10 at 22:45 #

        Why should they reflect the gravity of adulthood? If kids are playing with this, that’s just absolutely no fun! Kids get enough of “adulthood” online, on tv, everywhere. They need their escape, just like we do. Adults need a break from harsh realities (in healthy ways), kids look at toys as a way to have fun and escape pressures or to imagine impossibilities. It’s not fair to expect a child to be an adult.

        I do honor dolls that are out there that do this for kids, like American Girl, but I think there is plenty of room for dolls that allow us to take full advantage of playtime. Not enough children play today.

        “Whore”? I simply don’t understand why our society associates these qualities with being a whore and find that more to be a problem with society. If someone is successful, rich, or loosely dressed, we associate that with being “stupid” and “spoiled”, and worse a WHORE. That’s just wrong and a generalization. If a man is successful and rich, we never associate him with being spoiled and stupid. If he’s flaunting his money, he’s not a whore.


      • Kimmy P (@shocKimmy) 2017/06/06 at 11:01 #

        “Stupid Spoiled Whores” is a reference to an episode of South Park where all the girls become obsessed with Paris Hilton. Is there much of a difference between Paris Hilton & the Bratz dolls?

        There are very few opportunities in the entertainment industry. By having more media glamorize the entertainment industry it perpetuates the unattainable dream of stardom. Rhianna & others are the exception to the rule. Most people don’t break out. It’s setting people up for disappointment later in life.

        The Bratz dolls may have stylized proportions, but because they are marketed as serious adults rather than silly cartoons people tend to view them as (poor) role models. Bratz are generally not fantasy. They don’t have butterfly wings or button eyes.

        What I am trying to say is that there is a line separating the fun, playful, silly, fairy tale toys from the cool, edgy, serious, realistic toys. You can’t have toys be both. Barbie can cross over with different collections. Bratz was always the coolest & sexiest brand of dolls. You don’t really see them in pastel pink with glitter or in poofy ballgowns. That’s fine, but if the fantasy aspects aren’t empathized, they are then treated as realistic. But their lives aren’t realistic either. Bratz was always about being an attractive grown-up, but their accessories & perspectives hinder the vision of adulthood.


      • generationnext 2017/06/10 at 23:14 #

        “Is there much of a difference between Paris Hilton & the Bratz dolls?”

        Yes, there is a huge difference. Paris Hilton makes porn videos for attention. She has only recently shown herself to work hard for what she wants, building a business to step out of her dad’s shadow.

        Bratz reflected a society of girls and women who were different and were treated differently. Bratz’s focus has mostly been on fashion, traveling, and subcultures. However, they haven’t been apathetic to issues throughout their characterizations. They also haven’t acted spoiled or mean to people. Their characterizations have actually been quite positive. The only thing that people base their judgments on are simply on the clothes they wear. Women are too often judged by the clothes they wear. We don’t think of Hilton’s dad as a spoiled rich whore, and we don’t think any boys that want to be like him as such either. I see a double standard between men and women in this regard.

        What makes someone a spoiled rich whore is when someone is just that. The clothes someone wears doesn’t make someone spoiled, rich, or a whore! Actions come along with that. The Bratz never showcased that. Paris and Bratz aren’t correlated.

        “The Bratz dolls may have stylized proportions, but because they are marketed as serious adults rather than silly cartoons people tend to view them as (poor) role models. Bratz are generally not fantasy. They don’t have butterfly wings or button eyes.”

        Fantasy or imagination doesn’t always come in the form of “princesses, wicked witches,” etc. It is anything that can be a work of fiction. It’s not real. Anyone knows they aren’t real. In their movies, they do entirely unrealistic things. “Button eyes” aren’t the only things that make something fantasy either. A fantasy is the faculty or activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable. The Bratz clearly seem to do impossible and improbably things, especially in their movies and tv shows.

        And yes, if we consider Bratz Fashion Pixiez, they have come with wings. Bratz Genie Magic, they met a genie. I’m sure kids realize that these things are completely unrealistic. As an 11 year old, the target demographic at the time of the Bratz debut, I completely recognized that these dolls were unrealistic.

        “What I am trying to say is that there is a line separating the fun, playful, silly, fairy tale toys from the cool, edgy, serious, realistic toys. You can’t have toys be both.”

        When I was a kid, there were many cartoons on Cartoon Network that were both edgy and unrealistic. Ed Edd and Eddy, Rugrats, Hey Arnold, and such. Things that are geared to boys tend to be edgier, but that doesn’t make them more realistic. Why is something edgy for girls considered more “realistic”?

        Bratz are what nerf guns are to boys. They are a bit of edgy entertainment, but not truly realistic unless you just want to take the fun out of everything. Video games provide similar entertainment.

        Most kids in the targeted demographic can recognize when something is real and when something is not.

        There is a fine line between playing with a doll with poufy dresses and playing with a doll in urbanized, outrageous, and popular fashions. However, that doesn’t make the doll in poufy gowns a better role model. A girl could grow up to be a spoiled rich whore by admiring some rich, spoiled queen in a Disney movie and owning her amazing princess-y collection in doll-sized form.

        Again, I believe that to really know something well, you have to indulge yourself a bit in the subject. Knowledge takes time.

        I appreciate your perspective though. It’s refreshing to hear other ideas out there.


    • generationnext 2017/06/05 at 18:23 #

      Well, I have to ask: What is wrong with striving for something artistic? Does someone lack “aspiration” when they dare to dream of being a music producer, fashion designer, film director, or singer (just four of the many aspirations the characters have)?

      I disagree that none of them strive to be the best they can be. Jade has given her all to be in the fashion industry as a character, even working for a hardcore fashion magazine editor just to make her dreams come true. Jade is also interested in Chemistry and hopes to try that as well. The other girls also have shown hard work and teamwork when getting jobs done and finding ways to make their dreams a reality.

      Passion? There is a strong amount of passion present throughout the Bratz characterizations. Any examples you’d like to share of their lack of “passion”?

      As far as compassion goes, that all depends on the character, The characters are diverse. Yasmin, of the four, has always displayed a tremendous amount of compassion towards animals and people. She’s always the one getting her friends to volunteer to help animals and the elderly, as well as the sick and disabled.

      The Bratz have (of course in the world of fiction) started their own business, which helps them buy the things they want. ALL of their movies and shows showcase this. They also have good connections because of their journalistic work, so they were able to strike a deal with a celebrity named “Byron Powell” (who is supposed to be Simon Cowell in the Bratz universe), who helps them get some of the things they need and want. He helps them get into venues and helps them get jobs so they can get paid.

      Bratz, in their movies and shows, have donated their money, time, and efforts to Pet Rescue programs (especially in the Pampered Petz movie) and other programs.

      Now if we want to go back to Starrin and Stylin, Cloe saved up all of her birthday money since she was 8 years old to buy herself an old car. But she just happened to have a friend who fixed it up like brand new. Most of the clothes she wore she either made herself or bargain shopped.

      I don’t think it’s fair to say the characters lack in passion, aspiration, or hard work. You would have to give more examples regarding that.

      The Bratz may appear spoiled, but having nice things doesn’t make someone a bad person. There are children who are spoiled to death by their parents, but it doesn’t always mean they don’t appreciate what they have or that they are bad children.

      Thanks for commenting and giving your perspective.


      • Kimmy P (@shocKimmy) 2017/06/05 at 22:33 #

        The problem with aspirations that are entirely art-related is that most of these dreams are not realistic. No medium should be encouraging even more people to fantasize about being a celebrity. To me, the rags-to-riches story of a person who rises to stardom is more taunting than inspiring. There are just so many people striving to be in music & film that even those who are talented have their dream rebuffed. There are probably more humpback whales than music producers in the world, most singers cannot support themselves on their instrument alone, & few ever finance films. Other than fashion (which seriously feels like there should be more people interested in pursuing), there’s no possibility that all of their dreams will come into fruition, especially when the singer lacks the classical training & the director doesn’t know the technical side of her craft.

        The arts are wonderful & all, but they objectively don’t contribute to the greater good of mankind. Really, our culture has made art an indulgence in luxury & reckless behavior. Why can’t the girls be interested in practical fields such as medicine & education? Jade could be a chemist. The world needs programmers, educators, engineers, editors, scientists, warriors, cooks, doctors, nurses, even custodians & mechanics! Why glamorize the fields which are already so saturated when there are so many other areas of interest?

        Practically nobody in high school is going to be able to maintain good grades, a vibrant social life, & a profitable business. Owning a business before adulthood doesn’t even sound legal.

        The charity work, particularly with pets, is so fragrantly glamorized. It’s foolish to pretend volunteer work is just about playing with cute puppies. When you volunteer at a kennel, you’re going to be working with older & sickly animals.

        I’ve done some research on Bratz, but I’m not going to watch all the movies just to have this conversation. I have no interest in watching them & frankly from the premise alone most belong in the trash.

        There’s nothing wrong with coming from wealth, but there is issue when wealth is flaunted. If these girls get to vacation on the slopes or in Tokyo, they probably don’t care if they throw away their dollars on a Belgian hot chocolate or a pair of skis to match their boots.

        The fashion varies depending on collection, but not between girls. The girls, in each collection, look like part of a matched set, not embracing their personal individualities or individual personalities. For a brand that’s about diversity, sure, their complexions may be different, but they are more or less fashion clones of one-another & I don’t see any distinction between any of them personality-wise from any of the photographs posted in the article.


      • generationnext 2017/06/10 at 22:39 #

        I believe it’s also realistic to aspire to want to be a doctor and a scientist. These fields are also not so easily readily available to everyone. I don’t think what makes a good business is how realistic or unrealistic it is to get there. It’s realistic to aspire to work at a fast-food joint your whole life and work your way to manager, it’s unrealistic to aspire to something greater. However, with hard work, anyone can get what they want.

        Some people argue that music and art isn’t contributing much to the world. I would argue that it helps us keep in touch with history. Great artists like Picasso, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci were the revolutionary artists of their time. You can say they didn’t contribute much to their current humanity, but they do tell future generations of a time gone past. They give us knowledge of historical life. When we look back at some of the fashions the Bratz wear or have worn, we see a bit of history reflected in it.

        Art is a very attractive field because in the USA there is an emphasis on doing jobs that one loves and developing careers that one enjoys instead of settling. Statistics have shown that people tend to work harder when they enjoy what they do. Most people enjoy the arts.

        But in other countries, such as Korea or Indonesia, the science and math fields are over-saturated and many are not encouraged to pursue artistic careers or even careers they enjoy.

        This all depends on where you live. The Bratz have been sold around the world and through the company of an Iranian immigrant at that.

        I don’t think we should look down on people who want to pursue an artistic career. And even if someone doesn’t see it as a career, developing artistic hobbies can be healing and mentally healthy.

        In the world of imagination, that should be allowed.

        Disney princesses have the most unrealistic dreams ever. And yet, they are glorified by feminists, especially Elsa and Anna from Frozen.

        “I’ve done some research on Bratz, but I’m not going to watch all the movies just to have this conversation. I have no interest in watching them & frankly from the premise alone most belong in the trash.”

        I think you need to investigate about them thoroughly before you make hasty judgments. The website described their different personalities. The items they had reflected their individual personalities and attitudes. Their music and movies fleshed out these personalities. If you don’t tap into it, you’re going based on what everyone else is saying instead of forming a true judgment of the line based on a thorough analysis.

        If I’m studying for an exam, it’s not enough just to look at the pictures and read a couple of articles on the subject, I would have to review the subject thoroughly and make sure I understand the subject. I really encourage you to dig deeper than the surface.

        You said owning a business in high school sounds illegal. Look at the high school students who have become partners with Google and Youtube before graduating! Many high school students today have started businesses and have been successful with keeping up with their grades. Of course, Bratz is the world of fiction. I think it would be amazing if kids could maintain a group of friends, school, and run their own businesses. That would be an accomplishment, not something to scorn at.

        “The charity work, particularly with pets, is so fragrantly glamorized. It’s foolish to pretend volunteer work is just about playing with cute puppies. When you volunteer at a kennel, you’re going to be working with older & sickly animals.”

        That’s in your experience. I’ve helped my neighbors with lost and homeless animals before and it wasn’t just hard work. It was fun, too. Everything doesn’t have be harsh to be important.

        Considering the era, the Bratz INITIALLY were introduced as diverse, even though I didn’t provide those visuals. Cloe was into shimmery, sparkly animal prints, sporty attire. Jade was more outrageous, and into cutting edge fashions. Sasha was more into the hip-hop thing. Yasmin was more bohemian and vintage. Even though they eventually merged styles a bit more, they didn’t literally wear the same thing like dolls before them. Whether they literally look that way or not, they were advertised that way, and most people could see that they were more distinct than Barbie and her friends. Nowadays, there’s more individuality on the shelves, but then, they were as individual and diverse as dolls got. Still, they had a signature Bratz look so people could recognize the brand.

        “There’s nothing wrong with coming from wealth, but there is issue when wealth is flaunted. If these girls get to vacation on the slopes or in Tokyo, they probably don’t care if they throw away their dollars on a Belgian hot chocolate or a pair of skis to match their boots.”

        I think the point of them connecting with Tokyo is to encourage kids to get interested in cultures and styles outside of their box. I think the outfits can be found at any store. Women buy new outfits when traveling all the time. They don’t necessarily have to be rich to do this. I don’t think any kids believe the Bratz are rich. If you watched most of the movies, you’d realize this. Most kids saw the Bratz as dreamy teenagers. However, having the large amount of diverse clothing allows playtime to be interesting and diverse.


      • Love&Light 2017/06/06 at 02:42 #

        Kimmy P sounds exactly like the type of person who has the same negative outlook on Bratz that the soccer moms and parents who used to criticise the way the dolls are dressed back in the day. The fact that you used the words “stupid spoiled whores” says it all. Having all these opinions, yet refusing to actually watch the Bratz movies and understand what they truly represent speaks volumes. As i said, the Bratz are FASHION dolls. They aren’t real people and not everything NEEDS to have this long drawn out “realistic” backstory for fashion dolls to be great or successful. The Bratz proved that!. Everyone is free to express their opinions, but opinions like Kimmy P’s are part of the reason why fashion dolls have become so mundane. Toy companies have become too focused on creating dolls that have some “realistic” backstory or have to actually look “realistic”, when the focus should be on creating amazing looking fashion dolls that reflect the current looks and era that we are in. Barbie tried to become more realistic, and her sales have fallen by 15% this year. If you want real to see real people doing real things, go outside and people watch! Fashion dolls are supposed to be about fantasy! Bratz were just that! They were fashion focused, loved to shop and being glam young teens, but they also had ambitions and were fierce friends. Just because they had artistic ambitions, that doesn’t make them unattainable or unrealistic. That is a very closed minded and ignorant way of thinking in my opinion. Just because Bratz dress a certain way, that doesn’t make them any less empowering or inspiring. Look at some of the most successful and powerful women in the fashion and entertainment industry. Lets use Rihanna for example. HEAVILY criticised for her so called “slutty” fashion and provocative stage presence, but how she chooses to dress or portray herself doesn’t make her any less of a woman or less successful. She has achieved everything she set her mind to in her artistic field. Phenomenally successful in music, fashion, fragrance, acting and has a cosmetics line on the way. There are many women like her in pop culture and much like Bratz, the story is similar and they are heavily criticised. Should you change just because people don’t like you or view you in a certain way? Hell no, and that’s exactly why Bratz need to come back in their true disruptive form.


    • Love&Light 2017/06/06 at 19:15 #

      Well, the biggest difference being that Paris Hilton is a real person (even though she was always more of a Barbie, so i wouldn’t use her as an example tbh). Bratz are not real people, and even if there are similarities there in regards to the love of fashion and glam lifestyle, what is wrong with that? Paris was born into wealth yes, but she also has become a businesswoman and built an empire. Let’s face it, she doesn’t have to work or do anything, but she continues to work. Is that not powerful/successful? If she were to dress a different way, would that make her any less successful or less of a woman? Would you view her as less shallow? That is the point i am trying to make. She is another female in pop culture that has been criticised the same way that Bratz have. Women (or anyone for that matter) should be free to dress how they want and live the life that they want, without others judging them as shallow or spoiled because of the choices they choose to make. Kids and teens aren’t stupid, they know that Bratz aren’t real people, but that doesn’t make what they stand for any less inspiring or aspirational. I speak as someone who is in the arts and has been inspired by the Bratz. Never did i think, “oh they are so shallow and spoiled. They are bad role models…blah blah”. I saw them as amazingly fashionable dolls, (taking on themes that no other toy company would DARE take on), going after their dreams and being fierce friends. And yes, they are a fantasy! Isaac Larian, the CEO of MGA has said this himself. Bratz have been fashion designers, pop stars, movie stars, pixies, mermaids…even superheroes! There is a fantasy element to them but there are also realistic elements and ambitions there too. Would you tell a child that they couldn’t be a fashion designer or an actor because it is in the arts world and isn’t realistic? Should you give up on your dreams because someone tells you that you are setting yourself up for disappointment? No, you shouldn’t! People with that closed off mindset don’t get far in life i can tell you that much.

      Bratz can crossover and have crossed over into different themes/careers just like Barbie has. A fashion doll should be versatile enough to do it all. That is why both brands have had such longevity, while others have come and gone. They are timeless and evergreen brands. As long as people love fashion and wear clothes, there will alway be a market for a group of stylish teen girls wearing fashionable clothes like Bratz to prosper. You seem to have this view that toys cannot be both fantasy and also have elements of realism. Like it HAS to be one or the other. That is a mindset that says you have to be this way or that way in life. Putting yourself in a box like that is very limiting, and can stifle creativity. Bratz were always about promoting creativity and never labelling yourself as just ONE thing. You should be free to express yourself through your ‘Passion For Fashion’, or through whatever medium/career you choose for yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • generationnext 2017/06/11 at 07:19 #

        I completely agree with you here. This is exactly what I was trying to say.

        When a man is rich, sexy, wild, we don’t call him a “rich, spoiled, whore.” We want to put our girls in a box, but we don’t do this for our young boys. This is partially why boys grow up feeling invincible and excel faster than girls. Girls lose their confidence when they realize there are limitations to their expression. We need to encourage girls to be confident.

        But again, when you don’t know about the brand you’re criticizing, when you don’t look into the brand closely, all you see are scantily dressed dolls with pouty and thousands of accessories. You can’t see the entire picture if you don’t “look closer”.


  2. Love&Light 2017/06/03 at 02:06 #

    Not sure if you are aware, but Isaac Larian announced on Twitter that Bratz will be returning Fall 2018. I definitely think they will return to their true aesthetic this time around.


    • generationnext 2017/06/05 at 18:01 #

      Yes, I saw the announcement. But until an official press release is out there, I won’t cover it too deeply. I am, however, going to do a brief article on this.

      I don’t know if the Bratz will return to their true aesthetic. It would take a designer who understands Carter Bryant’s vision.


      • battlespring 2017/06/09 at 03:43 #

        idk if this is true or not but mga is going to hire hayden williams to design 2018 bratz. What are you’re thoughts on his works?


      • generationnext 2017/06/11 at 07:28 #

        Hayden Williams is an amazing designer! I’ve been hoping he would jump on board. I’m not sure if he will though. He lives in a different country and would have to move and give up his current pursuits. He’d be taking a risk jumping into the Bratz brand when it’s basically a new doll line in the market nowadays.

        But I hope they get him on board or someone who understands Carter Bryant’s original vision. It would have to be someone who looks outside of the box, someone who understands the fan base. I would love for someone like Hayden to climb into the wagon, though. Too bad it’s still just a rumor. I hope they keep their eyes that way.

        Then there’s the issue with retailers. Hayden has great illustrations and ideas. But will retailers give it the “green light” if you will?
        As Carter Bryant told me on this website, retailers have all the power.

        What do you think about Williams’ designs?

        Thanks for commenting and reading.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Niki 2018/05/06 at 04:55 #

    Hi! Just read through this and wanted to give you a big thanks for writing this. I’m a huge fan of Bratz and grew up on them. I’m currently 16 and collecting second hand bratz alongside fixing them up (restoring their look basically). I absolutely adore the bratz pack and wish people, especially feminists, would look deeper into the brand as well. They represent diversity, uniqueness, and creativity. Anyways, thank you again for writing this. Best of wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    • generationnext 2018/05/06 at 10:20 #

      Thanks for reading! Yes, I do wish that people would be more open-minded. I’ve got some big projects and ideas in the works to help Bratz rise back up. For now, we all have to be scavengers and scoop up whatever Bratz we can find!

      You seem really intelligent and well-spoken for a 16 year old. Very mature. Thanks for visiting.



  1. The Truth or Not the Truth? Conversation with Insider: What Really Happened to Bratz in 2015? What’s Influencing Bratz in 2018? | Generation Next - 2018/09/02

    […] Read my article on Bratz vs Feminists: Over Sexualized or Empowering? It sheds more light on how moms think and shape m… […]


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