What the new Bratzillaz, Novi Stars, and Team Barbie dolls?!
by Erika Davidoff
So, there's a whole slew of new dolls marketed towards girls, including boy-crazed alien divas and a new addition to the horrendous Bratz line! Yes, I'd call most of them a disappointment.
MGA Entertainment has created two new installments. First, the brand new Novi Stars. The dolls themselves sound kind of cool, with features like light-up bodies and glitter and the ability to speak. They're supposed to be aliens. I'm not sure why they instead look like odd-colored, impossibly thin women with huge mascara-laden eyes. Forget about encouraging any positive ideas about body image with these dolls.
It's not entirely the dolls themselves that I find insulting to my gender, though, but also the "bios" of the dolls that MGA's written. Jodi on the Go! Go! Sports Girls blog highlights some of the worst of the marketing:
"Alie wants to learn 'How not to blush around cute Earth boys!!', Ari’s mission is to 'Kiss an Earth boy' and her fave activity is 'Curling her hair with her magic wand (aka curling iron)!', Mae’s mission is to 'Become the BIGGEST pop-star!', and Yna doesn’t get 'Flats and tennis shoes.'"
What excellent role models! I know I, for one, would love it if my ten-year-old daughter wore only high heels and strove to kiss Earth boys.
Then there's Bratzillas. As a kid, MGA's Bratz dolls always freaked me out. Seriously, I thought their overly made-up faces and pouty lips were absolutely terrifying. They didn't look to me like any women I knew, and I always rushed by them whenever I was in a toy aisle. As such, I'm not really sure what MGA is trying to get at with the new Bratzillas line that's coming out shortly. Basically, they're putting creepy (and totally age-inappropriate--fishnets? Really?) clothing on already rather creepy-looking dolls and trying to sell them to ten-year-olds. Not to mention the fact that these dolls are joining a line of doll characters who proudly announce things like, "I'm a shopaholic…I once shopped for 12 hours straight!"
To be fair, though, I noticed one of the classic Bratz dolls, Jade claims to love chemistry. I also love chemistry. Maybe I have more in common with these nose-less, fashion-obsessed personas than I'd like to admit. Although it seems Jade here is focused on cultivating her career as a chemist so that she can "concoct a new perfume formula." The message is clear: girls, you can do science, but only if it makes you pretty.
On a slightly better note, Mattel's coming out with a new "Team Barbie" line, just in time for the Olympics. Speaking of which, did you know that this is the first year ever that Team USA has more female athletes than male athletes? That is a huge testament to real girl power. These new Barbies, with their cute little shoes and perfectly done-up hair, don't really invoke that sense of power. Their "Everyone Wins With Pink!" slogan isn't really doing it for me, either. But this could be a lot worse. At least Barbie is encouraging girls to be active and athletic with these dolls, and I bet young girls can make up some pretty cool stories with their little plastic athletes. I like the direction Mattel has been heading in with their "I Can Be" Barbie line. They've got a ways to go, but this is a step in the right direction.
I hope all these new dolls help girls tell their own stories, better stories than the ones MGA has come up with--stories like the Olympians that'll be representing the world in London this year. And I hope, as always, that we encourage our girls to dream big, despite the disappointing messages they face in the media.
Other related blogs: Shaping Youth, Bratzillaz, Novi Stars, Monster High: Same Sexualized SnoreFest