Bratz Dolls Get a Pop Feminism Makeover

Malala Doll Bratz
















Artist Wendy Tsao is on a crusade to inspire children with “real life heroes…with inspiring stories of courage, intelligence, strength and uniqueness.” How does she plan on introducing such figures as Malala Yousafzai to the under-tween crowd? Through dolls, of course. Turning her artistic passion into social justice activism, Tsao wrote about her work under the title “I remove make-up from Hollywood and Disney dolls and turn them into inspiring real-life women.

The only thing is, Disney has nothing to do with the dolls Tsao features in her work. Tsao “scrubs the makeup off” of Bratz dolls, a line owned by a company called MGA Entertainment. Sure, they did some spin-off DVDs related to the characters, but MGA Entertainment, whose only other well-known credit includes owning the Little Tikes company, has nothing to do with Disney. And very little to do with “Hollywood” for that matter. Tsao (or her publisher) just wanted to capitalize off the pop feminist trend that all things associated with Hollywood, makeup, beauty and, of course, Disney, are evil.

Personally, if she’d said she re-did Bratz dolls to look like real women I would’ve applauded her outright. Bratz is a creepy line. First off, why would you ever want to inspire your little girl to be a brat? That’s asking for the kind of trouble you as a parent seek to avoid at all costs for your own sanity, let alone the well-being of your kid. Secondly, Tsao is right: the makeup and outfits worn by the Bratz characters are inappropriate for little girls. Speaking as a Jem and the Holograms fan, the Bratz dolls look less Joan Jett and more Kim Kardashian. There’s a way to do hair, makeup and clothes that’s fun and empowering for women. Bratz illustrates how to make dolls look like sluts. Creepy.

But trying to use the Disney name to garner fame for her own supposedly “radical” artwork/activism is absurdly lame. Everyone loves to pick on Disney princesses. It’s the latest trend in “you’re ruining my little girl” feminism. A feminism, according to the latest issue of Parents magazine, that diagnoses little boys with ADHD, drugs them up and shoves them to the back of the classroom so little girls can shine. And be scientists and mathematicians. And do it all. And suffer from increased rates of depression because of it.

What’s so bad about princesses, again? It’s wonderful to inspire children with contemporary heroes. It’s another thing to destroy their imaginations and zap their creativity by tearing down the fantasy element within our culture. Babies as young as a few months old realize the world is a big, scary place. It’s our job as parents to make it safe for them. Fantasy has it’s role to play in that endeavor. If it didn’t, we as adults wouldn’t think so fondly of the days of our youth. Do we really want our 5-year-olds to think they need to be shot in the head to crusade for education, or do we want them to think they’re all righteous leaders who can and will do good when they grow up?