Monday, December 15, 2008

Barbie Vs Bratz: Barbie Wins!

Ron and I dislike the Bratz dolls. He says anything that ends with a "z" is no good. I think he was emotional when he said it (and wasn't even thinking about Ritz crackers), as we were hunting for Christmas presents for our nieces (and daughter) - trying to find something fun but not skanky. So hard these days, isn't it? Kelly sent me an article from The Consumerist about this! I had to share it here for all those last minute shoppers, make the right choice, please. And then I will editorialize a bit :).

Court Stops Production Of Bratz Merchandise
This may well be the last holiday season for Bratz dolls, as a federal judge ordered their manufacturer to cease production and stop selling the popular dolls.

Mattel, maker of Bratz's main rival, Barbie, sued the company, alleging that their creator came up with the concept when he was working for Mattel. Whoopsie!

Some parents are thrilled that Bratz are going away (pending appeal), says CNN:

The judge's ruling came as a relief to some parents who see the popular dolls' clothes and makeup as too racy for their young daughters. It also eliminates heavy competition against Barbie — a doll often seen as less provocative, but whose slender body also raises parents' eyebrows.
"I'm happy to not see [Bratz]," said Kristi Cassell of Sandy Springs, Georgia. Her 5-year-old daughter, Emily, has amassed a collection of Barbies.

"Barbies come across more wholesome," Cassell said. Barbie has some "questionable" clothes, "but it seemed like all the Bratz dolls were on a darker side of Barbie," she said.

Six-year-old Sierra Curry-Corcoran of Newport News, Virginia, also has a Barbie collection and no Bratz dolls. But not by choice.

"I like Bratz better. They have more fancy clothes, and they look more cool," Sierra said.

Her mother, Tasha Curry-Corcoran, strongly disagrees. "Bratz are trashy: They wear too much makeup. Their clothing is too short; their boots are too high. They look like prostitutes. That's why we don't have them in our house."

For the record, Consumerist morns the lack of available She-Ra dolls for today's youth.

I happened to notice the Barbie dolls when we were shopping, as I believe that inevitably at least a few of them will be moving into our home. The dress for this year's Holiday Barbie is unbelievably ornate and beautiful, and they are, of course, "a classic". I have to play devil's advocate for a moment though: She is not completely innocent.

Stolen from Wiki:
One of the most common criticisms of Barbie is that she promotes an unrealistic idea of body image for a young woman, leading to a risk that women who attempt to emulate her will become anorexic. A standard Barbie doll is 11.5 inches tall, giving a height of 5 feet 9 inches at 1/6 scale. Barbie's vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (chest), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. In 1965 Slumber Party Barbie came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight which advised: "Don't eat." The doll also came with pink bathroom scales reading 110lb, which would be around 35lbs underweight for a woman 5 feet 9 inches tall. In 1997 Barbie's body mold was redesigned and given a wider waist, with Mattel saying that this would make the doll better suited to contemporary fashion designs.

Beyond the physical appearance of either line of dolls are the activities and implied interests, intelligence, and goals of the dolls. Barbie is a little more grown up (older) than the typical Bratz doll, but it is still fairly clear that Barbie, even from the start, was portrayed as better role-model, and well-rounded person (even if she was 6'0 tall and anorexic). If you haven't had enough already, check out this interesting little "article" about Barbie, Rethinking Barbie and you'll be surprised at how "good" they really are.

With all the imagery in the media bombarded at young girls, choosing one doll over another is probably not going to eliminate all the issues they will develop. I do think that when there is the ability to screen shows, music, and even toys, it is our responsibility to do so. Those marketing sharks are good at what they do, and you have to protect your kids.


Heath said...

I think your last paragraph really gets to the root of things. People are worried about Bratz and Barbies, when in reality the parents have the real ability to develop their child. I have seen too many kids wearing stuff that just isn't appropriate, especially for their age. Too me the real problem is a parent who doesn't have the authority to tell their child no and make it stick. There are just too many parents that don't take an active interest in their kids lives and help them learn what is and isn't appropriate. Bratz are/were successful because someone was allowing their kids to have them. It just took the Barbie company's desire to protect their market share to take them down.

Anyways, does the mean we should take back the Bratz doll with tube top and mini skirt that we got for Lucy? :) Kidding of course.

amberWIRE said...

Oh, skanky toys...what ever happened to care bears and smurfs?