Bratz Move to the Big Screen

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I remember reading a shopping guide/gift suggestion blog online this past Christmas, because I needed to buy a gift for an 8-year-old girl (a generic gift, to help those families unable to provide). The woman recommended a Bratz Doll for this age bracket, because they are affordable toys and a Bratz Doll was what “every little girl wants.” Several commenters said they’d never buy their girls those dolls and why…to which the blogger/expert responded, again, “Why not? They’re cheap and it’ll make your little girl happy.” I found it vaguely disconcerting that the commenters’ concerns were brushed aside so easily.

I bought my nameless little girl an art set and various other fun, creativity inspired stuff.

Long story short, I’m not very fond of Bratz Dolls. I personally don’t think they project a very positive image for little girls – they’re heavily made up, their clothing is very…uhm, hoochie-mama, and their very name strikes me as pretty negative. If I had a little girl, I’m not entirely certain I’d be comfortable if she wanted to be just like the Bratz.

In some exciting news (and it’s not new news), Bratz will soon have their first feature film, so their influence will burst out of their cellophane and cardboard boxes right into real, live action. Go here for a trailer and other “fun” stuff. It looks harmless enough, I guess – another teen movie about cliques and “girl power.” If anything, I’d say this was all set up to be a less clever knock off of Mean Girls. Or the million and one other teen clique movies that have already been produced (goodness knows, I’ll never grow weary of watching girls fight girls and then triumph over other girls to remain BFFs in the end – while the truly bad girl gets hers).

Maybe there’ll be a positive message to the flick, who knows? I’m just grateful the girls in the lead roles were not made to look as, dare I say, inappropriately sexy as the dolls.

*Please note: this article is full of my not-so-humble opinion and I’d like every Bratz Doll removed off store shelves.

Comments

  1. says

    The one thing that I like about Bratz dolls is the range of ethnic diversity that they reflect. Barbies are getting better and better, but at the time that Bratz first came out, they were pretty much the only fashion dolls on the market that had more than one distinct character with dark skin.

    I saw the preview for the movie the other day, and the first thing I noticed was that, while the main characters aren’t all blonde, they’re almost all much paler and more Caucasian-looking than the dolls they’re supposed to be representing. I think that’s a shame.

  2. Gategrrl says

    I’ll have to stand here and admit that my daughter has literally, over $600 worth of those dolls and various items that go along with them. Bratz, Bratz kidz, Bratz babiez, what have you.

    I’m not that thrilled with the dolls, but she’s gotten the collector’s bug (with her OWN money, I’d like to add). And the only time she seems to play with them is when another friend who is way more into them, comes over to play. ::shrugs::

    Don’t know what to tell you. I’m not going to defend the dolls or their marketing, since yes, I *do* think they look like little ‘hos with all the make-up – but honestly, I don’t see Barbie being that much better, even if Barbie has the veneer of civilization and jobs.

    But when you have a kid, there are the hills you want to die on, and the items you want to use as an object lesson. Her father and I keep up a constant commentary about the dolls, the way they’re dressed, what they symbolize, etc.

    ….

    When the dolls first came out a few years ago, an older neighborhood girl got REALLY into them. They were The Hot Thing in school, apparently. Girls went nutz for them, girls in the 10 year old range.

    I’ve noticed that since they first appeared, the dolls have become “cuter”. Oh, they still dress in sexy little minidresses, but I’ve noticed more “girl power” or “girl activities” like sports and so forth being portrayed. They’re a little more mainstream and less radical than they used to be. I’m still not crazy about them. Hopefully, my daughter will do with her Bratz what she did with her Barbies – give them away.

    And I’m definitely NOT investing in the movie, whenever it comes out. The quality of those things is horrendous, even aside from the messges imparted.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    “Brat” and “spoiled” are two terms that used to be applied mostly to children, but now are applied with alarming regularity to grown women. Further advancement of the infantilization agenda.

    Gategrrl, I get what you’re saying. You have to let kids make a certain amount of their own decisions, or they never learn how to make good decisions. The way you’re handling it sounds fair enough to me. And when you think about it, you’re doing just what SBG and those commenters said: refusing to buy the dolls for her. Letting her buy them with her own money is definitely a different scenario.

  4. sbg says

    I saw the preview for the movie the other day, and the first thing I noticed was that, while the main characters aren’t all blonde, they’re almost all much paler and more Caucasian-looking than the dolls they’re supposed to be representing. I think that’s a shame.

    It is a shame.

  5. sbg says

    Don’t know what to tell you. I’m not going to defend the dolls or their marketing, since yes, I *do* think they look like little ‘hos with all the make-up – but honestly, I don’t see Barbie being that much better, even if Barbie has the veneer of civilization and jobs.

    I don’t disagree. I’m not sure I’d be happy bringing home Barbies, either.

    I guess I’m old fashioned, though. It even kind of bothers me when I happen by the toddler/little girl clothing sections in stores like Target and Wal-Mart…little girls’ clothes these days seem like miniaturized versions of adult-wear. I can’t pinpoint exactly why the trend bothers me, but it does.

  6. sbg says

    “Brat” and “spoiled” are two terms that used to be applied mostly to children, but now are applied with alarming regularity to grown women. Further advancement of the infantilization agenda.

    Oh, man, like that Lexus (or some other high end vehicle) commercial where a little girl asks her mom to explain what being spoiled means…and the mom asks if someone said that about the girl. The girl says, no, people called the mother that. The worst bit about that was how pleased the mom looked.

    Ugh. I’ll stop now before I rage on about Americans’ general need (read: want and feel entitled) to have more and more stuff. Can’t speak for other societies.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    I guess I’m old fashioned, though. It even kind of bothers me when I happen by the toddler/little girl clothing sections in stores like Target and Wal-Mart…little girls’ clothes these days seem like miniaturized versions of adult-wear. I can’t pinpoint exactly why the trend bothers me, but it does.

    There’s probably more to it than this, but a lot of those clothes are sexualized. Or they draw specific attention to where a girl doesn’t fill the clothing out (but a woman does).

    Boys actually do not look like men, however you dress them up. There’s a childlike slenderness to boys that generally fills out with adulthood. But girls aren’t expected to fill out – women have always been pressed to look 16 forever, but with the advent of the Twiggy body style becoming what we are all expected to aspire to, now women are expected to look 8 forever. Except with silicone fun bags, of course. It’s just plain creepy.

    Oh, man, like that Lexus (or some other high end vehicle) commercial where a little girl asks her mom to explain what being spoiled means…and the mom asks if someone said that about the girl. The girl says, no, people called the mother that. The worst bit about that was how pleased the mom looked.

    Yes, that’s just what I had in mind! Clearly those kids are inheriting the assumption if the woman has that car, she’s been given it by an overly generous man who doesn’t know how to keep her in her place. Is it “spoiled” if you buy it for yourself, like single men and husbands have been doing forever? Oh, hell, no. “Spoiled” is something you do to someone you control, like your child or, apparently, your woman.

  8. Gategrrl says

    SBG,

    You said:

    I guess I’m old fashioned, though. It even kind of bothers me when I happen by the toddler/little girl clothing sections in stores like Target and Wal-Mart…little girls’ clothes these days seem like miniaturized versions of adult-wear. I can’t pinpoint exactly why the trend bothers me, but it does.

    And it should. Almost uniformly, EVERY mother I’ve ever met (with one or two exceptions) complains about the availability of Prostitot clothing, and the lack of the type of clothing CHILDREN like to wear, that is not sexualizing, hinting at future growth, or anything other than playclothes with no ulterior motive.

    For a while there it was nearly impossible to find acceptable childlike clothing that were appropriate for younger girls. I’d heard of mothers raiding the boy’s section of the stores looking for simple t-shirts and jeans that were half-way normal.

    It was a real lesson for me when I went shopping with my daughter for her fifth grade culmination dress. (that’s a whole’nother issue, there, making a huge deal out of going from grade school to middle school, then middle school to high school) The dresses available that were “dressier” were almost all miniature versions of cocktail outfits, etc. I had to curb my daughter’s desire for something slinky. Point of fact, there was one girl I saw at her school after the culmination who was wearing a spangly nightclub type of halter-top dress.

    The pressures for little girls to start dressing up sexy is incredible these days. There’s no delineation in society (that I’ve seen) that indicates when a girl is now a sexually viable female, ready to date. And it is very difficult for mothers who care to fight that tide and keep their female children *children* instead of little sex objects. It’s very disturbing.

  9. Patrick says

    The film is produced by Avi Arad, who is already hated by comics fans for his meddling in Marvel comics. Is he branching out?

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    Gategrrl, it’s pretty unbeliavable. When I was a kid, it actually would have been fairly difficult to tart up my wardrobe (even how pop icons like Madonna dressed was more rebellious than flesh-baring or revealingly tight). Now it’s harder not to.

    My first experience of overly sexualized clothing (with no alternatives) came with the junior prom. I tried on dress after dress after dress, and they all made me look like some film noir interpretation of a hooker or something.

  11. Gategrrl says

    That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Betacandy. It was much worse a few years ago, in the late nineties, especially, but it’s been there for a while.

    And it’s not only little girl clothing that’s been overly sexualized (ie, the Bratz Effect, is what my husband calls it). For older women in their mid 30s and up, it was also difficult to find clothing the FIT their mature forms, and wasn’t an imitation of teenage clothing – which also didn’t take into account that teen girls ALSO come in a variety of shapes and styles.

    I had a hard time finding jeans that weren’t absurdly low-cut. Thanks, fashion designers, but I already lived through that fad once, and I didn’t like it then, either! Yuck!

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    Yeah, the late 90’s… I’m not quite sure what was going on there, but shirts got tighter, pants got lower, and everything got more sexualized. Even though I was slim during part of that time, my natural curves did not look good in those sorts of clothes. And it really was hard to find anything else.

    I never thought I’d say this, but thank random chance the 80’s are coming back. Loose flowy tunics and tailored-not-skintight. The ‘box shirts’ can stay in a closet somewhere, but the rest is a welcome alternative to what we’ve had recently.

  13. sbg says

    Gategrrl said:

    And it’s not only little girl clothing that’s been overly sexualized (ie, the Bratz Effect, is what my husband calls it). For older women in their mid 30s and up, it was also difficult to find clothing the FIT their mature forms, and wasn’t an imitation of teenage clothing – which also didn’t take into account that teen girls ALSO come in a variety of shapes and styles.

    Word. Even as a teen or twenty-something I didn’t fit into those clothes – women in my family tend to have hips and butt and I am no exception. Low-rise jeans are comfortable to me because I hate things around my middle, but I cannot pull them off. For a time, there were very few other choices.

    We’re telling our little girls to grow up faster (and in some way telling them it’s not okay to be a kid), and at the same time telling grown, mature women to hold onto that youth (and in some very clear way telling them it’s not okay to be “old”), sometimes desperately.

    I watched (shame on me) a few minutes of The Tyra Banks Show one sleepless night. On it? Women griping about their butts. One woman claimed to be jealous of her 8-year-old daughter’s backside.

    We’re so fucked up.

  14. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think the message I’m getting here is: “Hurry up and grow up so we can infantilize you, kid!”

    I think we should come up with a variation of that for CafePress. :D

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