Do Bratz have a positive message?

Filed under: Teens, Media, Day Care & Education, Toys, That's Entertainment

Luckily for me, my kids are as yet too young to know about Bratz dolls, the strange and sexily-dressed toys that have been very popular with young girls. They are so popular, in fact, that they have their own movie in theatres now. Not everyone, however, likes the franchise; many parents believe they are too sexy and encourage girls to dress like sluts.

"We don't allow them in the house," says Helene Lewis, of Moorestown, N.J. "It's the name, the look, the whole feeling about them. There are already enough negative influences out there." Lewis hopes to keep her five-year-old daughter from getting into the dolls "as long as possible."

It's not just parents who are concerned about the dolls, either. The American Psychological Association specifically mentioned Bratz dolls in a report on the sexualization of younger girls in our society, saying "It is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality."

Of course, not everyone dislikes the Bratz. "I like the dolls," said Mary Ann Savage of Fenton, Michigan, whose eight-year-old daughter Kylee shares her enthusiasm. "At this age, they all want to dress up and wear makeup. My daughter's a total girly-girl." Indeed, there must be plenty of kids and parents who approve of them; they brought in $2 billion over the last thirteen months.

The movie's producers see things differently too. "A big head allows more hair play," says Avi Arad, a co-producer of the film and toy industry veteran. "The lips are for styling." He also explains that in the movie, the aim was to create a truly multiethnic group of characters who learn to value friendship over the need for social acceptance. "If parents give it a chance, they'll walk out and say, 'I like these kids,'" he says.

As for me, they're not something I'd want my kids to play with, let alone emulating. I think it's definitely possible to make a doll that can be dressed and style nicely without making it look like a prostitute. What do you think? Do you let your kids play with Bratz dolls and toys? Are you taking your little ones to see the movie?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.