Bratz versus ‘My Scene’

My Scene Growing Up Glam Kennedy

by:

Mattel

Product Description


The My Scene dolls have younger sisters that REALLY grow up! These stylish sisters grow from tween to young teen with an innovative growing feature – plus, their fashions & makeup can transform to their new older look!
Manufacturer’s Age: 6 – 10 years
(Info and Picture sourced from Toys ‘R’ Us Online catalog).

Standing in the local toy shop I decided that these hideous ‘My Scene Growing Up Glam’ Dolls were the worst things on the shelves. They really freak the hell out of me. This doll represents a ‘tween’, (the latest incarnation of the preteen girl) and by twisting a knob on her back becomes a teen – she grows taller and curvier and more made-up. That this doll is meant to be a young girl just sickens me. What kind of world are we living in when we can represent girls as young as six, as tall, heavily made up, pouty lipped, impossibly thin waisted and bizarrely proportioned* with that ‘come hither’ look on its face?

But this post would not be complete without taking a look at Bratz Dolls, as the ‘My Scene’ Dolls are Mattel’s answer to the Bratz phenomenon.

Bratz Dolls are have over taken Barbie as the most popular and fastest selling doll in the UK out selling Barbie 2 to 1. As long ago as 2003 Bratz knocked Barbie off her perch, and also managed to make her look positively tame (as you can see from these examples below):

(Picture sourced from The Age story ‘What do these do to an eight year old girl?‘)

You can check out the Wikipedia entries on ‘My Scene‘ dolls and Bratz if you want to learn about the histories of the respective franchises, but the entry on Bratz contains some other interesting tidbits, like the story about how MGA Entertainment (makers of Bratz) are suing Mattel (makers of both Barbie and ‘My Scene’ dolls) claiming that the ‘My Scene’ dolls are copying the Bratz ‘doe eyed’ look (is that what we are calling that look?!) and how, in turn, Mattel are suing MGA Entertainment with the claim that Carter Bryant, one of Bratz creators, stole company secrets from Mattel. In addition you can read about the underpaid Chinese workers who make Bratz dolls and the opinions of the American Psychological Association who described Bratz thus:

Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. Although these dolls may present no more sexualization of girls or women than is seen in MTV videos, it is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality

APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, Feb 2007 Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls

I think that this is what concerns me the most about these type of dolls, (because the above descriptions apply could equally to ‘My Scene’) is that young children (and I do mean young – we are talking about girls from four years old) are being given dolls that embody a very adult and very narrow view of sexuality. While children do not see the world in these terms it is the image that these dolls convey that leave indelible images on their developing minds. Besides the impossible physical proportions, there is the purpose of the dolls. What do you do with these dolls? You dress them in their outrageous wardrobe of clothes that look fit for a porn star and you do their hair and accessorise them. (What else are you to do with a doll whose slogan is ‘a passion for fashion’?). Tween girls play with dolls that represent teenagers and through playing and role playing are learning what society expects of teenagers. And the message is ‘dress tarty, and wear heavy make up’. I could here discuss the influence of the porn culture increasingly creeping like cancer into the mainstream, I could discuss the pressure towards heteronormality, or the unhealthy focus obsession upon personal appearance all of which problemise these dolls for me. But I’ve had two scotches and I am tired so I might just leave it by saying that I wouldn’t give a child a plaything that teaches them to be a plaything when they grow up.

Incidentally, I am not the only one interested in toys at the moment.

Lauredhel has recently examined the Target catalog and found it wanting, while both bluemilk and the Dawn Chorus take a look at the newest Barbie Collectible doll, the comic strip character Canary.

* This post, also by Lauredhel, sheds some light on the bizarre proportions of these dolls.

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26 comments on “Bratz versus ‘My Scene’

  1. LuLi says:

    You press a button and she grows boobs? That takes disgusting to a new level.. Barbie did a lot of damage herself in her day, with her figure that is an impossibility in real life.

  2. rayedish says:

    Funnily enough, Barbie now is a lot less curvy then I remember her. Mattel must be saving the curves for these ‘my scene’ dolls. The message that these ‘growing up dolls’ send to preteens – ‘it’s all about boobs’. What about the girls destined to be modestly endowed? Or the ones that are bucking the trend of early puberty and waiting for their bodies to grow, instead of enjoying their childhood? And these things are supposed to be ‘appropriate’ (according to Mattel) playthings for 6-10 year olds. Yuk.

  3. LuLi says:

    My mother would only let me have Skipper (the tween barbie) for so many years that by the time I was allowed a normal one, she wasn’t cool to play with anymore. Curiously, my older brother bought me the African barbie when I was 12 (almost in high school) and I had to pretend to play with her for ages to satisfy him. She was probably the prettiest Barbie I’d ever seen so I didn’t mind too much.. What this has to do with anything, I don’t know, but I do know that at the ages of 6 and upwards me and my friends were very concerned with any ‘puppy fat’ we had on our bodies, which is ridiculous.

  4. rayedish says:

    Maybe I’ve got a grudge against Barbie because I never had a real one, only the cheaper knockoffs. But I did want a Barbie because her knees were flexible and moved and I thought that was way better that the rigid hollow legged dolls that I played with. Barbie is so much cheaper than she used to be. You can play her up in the supermarket for $5.99 now. Back in the day I sure that she cost around $30-$40.

  5. As a girl growing up, I was so into rugby and a plethora of other sports. I’d be hanging out with the boys most of the time because the girls we’re being passive – always sitting around playing Mums and Dads. How boring is that? I wanted to get out and expend some energy.

    Sometimes the boys would laugh at me, and I would always wonder why they would, until someone told me that sports was a “boy thing” only. I scoffed at such statement. But I didn’t continue playing because I still discouraged by it regardless and I was pretty confused by it as well. So I thought I’d let go of it and spot playing. The only male-dominated sport I’m in to today is MotoGP (but only cos I like motorbikes). I remember one time, when the Australia female soccer team won the World Cup (or something like that). I was so surprised because one, I didn’t even know there was a female soccer team for Australia, and two, I didn’t even see a hint of it on the news; the only coverage was the male soccer team losing. Bleugh.

    But I think now that I’m older, I’m also much wiser. I love wearing collared-cuffed shirts and ties and seriously don’t give a fuck what people think/say about me when it’s said in an insulting manner. It’s just too bad that they conform to the patriarchal standards of gender identity.

  6. Carmen Vj says:

    How can so much be held in a doll. The Bratz dolls are multi cultural dolls and very popular in over 70 countries.

    You also have this war between Barbie and the Bratz with these two companies. I hope they can work something out soon.

  7. rayedish says:

    Carmen,
    These dolls represent one of many symptoms of a sick sexualised culture of sexy marketing and consumerism. And I feel that their popularity in over 70 countries is something that is to be questioned, not lauded. But then I, unlike you, am not trying to sell their accessories so without such vested interest I am able to view these dolls with more objectivity and critical analysis.

  8. sigh says:

    they’re just dolls! and they look pretty ugly next to the more delicate barbie. i had tons of barbies growing up and it didnt turn me into a sexualized play thing. kids are not looking at these dolls and thinking of all the sexual connotations. my 6 year old niece in south america has like 20 bratz dolls and she’s fine and she’s gonna be fine because she has good parents that pay attention.

  9. Frau M. says:

    I like your blog and I agree about those toys.

    Greetings

  10. rayedish says:

    sigh – Good parents that pay attention does go along way in ensuring that kids have the best chance in life, but a doll is not just a doll. You are correct that kids don’t look at the dolls and see the sexual connotations, but the dolls do embody a particular ideal about feminine beauty and appropriate behaviour. What do you do with these toys? Well you dress them, accessorise them and do their hair. Bratz dolls don’t come as doctors or vets or do anything other than get dressed with their ‘passion for fashion’ – at least Barbie had ambition beyond looking like a bimbo!
    Frau M – thank you.

  11. Grace says:

    I’m only 13 and my sister who is only 5 has around forty bratz dolls, when I look at how they are dressed it disgusts me, I’m so sick of all the gender identity and focus on having to be perfect and what is with how these dolls look? i mean, they have tiny waists, huge heads and are extremely oddly proportioned…
    I agree with this blog

  12. Myrtle Joyce Lagarita says:

    Bratz and My Scene rules! Fight!

  13. Stevie says:

    Dear Myrtle, your logically constructed argument has made me reconsider the points made by Rayedish as being childish. I think basing your central thesis on “rules” and “fight” was a stroke of genius. Clearly we should socilaise our female sporn to look like whores and concern themselves with geopolitical matters such as fashion and let the men worry about that other stuff such as health, politics, engineering, and education. Rayedish you have been told.

  14. Chris says:

    Excellent rebuttal Stevie.

    I’m a boy, so toys like Barbie and the Bratz weren’t part of my everyday life but even now I think that Barbie isn’t as bad as she’s meant to be. Sure, she has the proportions of Paris Hilton and looks like a Playboy Bunnie but even if her physical appearance makes her look bad, she’s had all kinds of jobs and aspirations that a girl can be. She’s been a doctor, a business woman, deep-sea diver, pretty much every job in the world (Even a fast-food short order cook).

    But Bratz? There’s just no redeeming factor about them at all. They dress like sluts, they act like sluts and money, fashion, fame and boys seem to be the only thing that drives them

  15. […] May 8, 2009 Compromise Posted by rayedish under Childhood, Personal, feminism | Tags: Barbie, Childhood, Children, Disney movies, feminism, Parenting, Personal, Sexualisation, technology, Tinkerbell | No Comments  This is the post where I give a review of the movie currently on high rotation in the DVD player and where I discuss some of the tricky aspects of being a feminist mother trying to raise her kids amidst a culture chock a block full of toxic, pernicious pornified *over-marketed crap.  So much of what is marketed at kids, at girls in particular, is not particularly healthy.  (While the vast majority of the stuff that is marketed as being for children is extremely gender bifurcated, I think that girls stuff can tend to be worse because there’s a sexual/sexualised element tendency in girls toys –  such as these dolls). […]

  16. Anne says:

    Children DO NOT go around thinking “oh i want breasts just like this doll” they just have these things to have fun and play with, not to think about sex. i mean really, they are 6 years old they want to have fun.

  17. aelo says:

    I wont buy them for my kid because I would hate her to feel that lairy makeup, pelvic thrusting/posing and porn star outfits ( mini skirts and high heels?)are a legitimate source of ‘fun’ for little girls.
    what happened to going to the park? swings? mud pies? craft?
    I don’t mind watching little girls play ‘house’, or cuddle baby dolls – it’s quite often what they are seeing at home,mummy and daddy caring for them and their siblings… and I’d be happy to see this kind of nurturing play encouraged in both genders.
    But it sickens me to watch very small girls playing at ‘male fantasy cliches’, and it doesnt make it all right because it’s entirely innocent on their part. arranging a small plastic doll to ‘look provocative’ is a long way from cuddling a toy and involving it in their daily playtime.

  18. gloria says:

    it’s a doll! what is so horrible is that those who know are implying that as young girls grow up that they would be sucked in by some demonic monster becasue they are too stupid to think for themselves.i have had barbie dolls all my life,hell i collectthe myscene dolls, gi joe and other action figures. now heres you a subject….all those muscular joes and action figures. what does that do to the psychee of skinny and fat boys who grow up into skinny and fat men? they can or cannot compete with the strong muscular soldier, marine or sailer? why pick on barbie, my scene or bratz. now that is sexist!!

  19. alia says:

    das bild ist nicht nur schön sonder auch sexy

  20. lulu says:

    who cares. dolls are here 2 play with, to enjoy. i had all kind of dolls. i didn’t care if they had boobs or not. i liked my dolls because than i could act with them. i had roomes for each doll. dolls are fun. all kids should have fun..plus it’s not a sin to roll play..

  21. Katherine says:

    I had My Scene dolls in junior high and collected them until Mattel stopped selling them in the USA. The My Scene doll you have pictured is Kennedy from the Bling Bling Bikini line; of COURSE she’s going to be scantilly clad, it’s a bikini. You didn’t even bother with the original My Scene lines from 2003, those dolls are dressed casually and their make-up is very modest because they are portraying girls in high school. And even though the box says “Ages 6+” or whatever, My Scene’s tagline is “it’s a teen scene.” Are six-year-olds teenagers? These dolls are really marketed toward teen girls who are interested in such things as parties and boys and new/edgy fashion. Just because it says 6+ doesn’t mean you should give a Bling Bling Bikini doll to your daughter in elementary school. Use your brain for once and stop blaming companies and their marketing techniques for sexualizing young girls. You are not obligated to buy a Barbie for your daughter, it’s the parent’s responsibility for what their child is exposed to.

  22. Chandler says:

    I disagree with you on ALL of this article. First off all, the fact that you called bratz innaprociate. Well sir, I would Iike to tell you something:

    You haven’t seen all of bratz. Bratz teach girls to never give up and stay determined, and work together. Take the “Bratz Really Rock” movie for instance, the girls worked hard and were determined to forfil their dreams, and in the end, they worked together together to perform a song about friends

    And they also teach girls about being individual human beings, take the bratz world passion 4 indivualality playset for an example.

  23. Hannah says:

    Hello, I just wanted to state my two cents on this blog. I recently was looking up Bratz dolls again because I had been feeling nostalgia, as these dolls were my favorite dolls when I was a kid, and I happened to stumble across tons of crazy posts talking about how sexual they were. Let me tell everyone my personal experience with these dolls..maybe it will clear some things up.

    I first started playing with Bratz dolls since they first came out in 2001 when I was 4 years old and they continued to be my favorite doll until I was 11 or 12. I had hundreds of these dolls, every outfit you could think of…rock angels, wild west, camping, sleepover, bikini, paris etc. etc. and do you know sexually what they made me think or do or dress like?

    Nothing.

    When you are a kid you dont think about these things. I didn’t even realise they were considered “slutty” and “bad for kids” until I was much much older. All that was going through my mind was “Oh cute doll” “Oh her outfit is purple I like purple” “Oh soft pretty hair” Not ONCE did I ever want to wear the clothes, or want the clothes on me. I dressed and still dress very very modestly. These dolls did not alter my mind or decisions in any way, shape, or form. I liked them because they came with a lot more accesories than barbie, and were a lot more unique and colorful…I got tired of seeing barbies platinum blonde hair over and over again, which, if you think about barbie, she isn’t a very realistic interpretation of a little girl either is she?

    If you have noticed, it is only adults who are turning Bratz into sexual, mind bending objects. If you were to ask a child what they thought of Bratz, I can almost guarantee they will just say “Cause its a toy and I like to play with them” every time. Because as children we dont think about things like this, they dont even cross our minds…we dont start analising things until we get older.

    Sometimes I think as adults we forget how our minds worked when we were kids, we forget what that amazing obliviousness to everything was like, and we try to make something out of something that isn’t even there.

    I never have dressed like a Bratz doll, and I never will. People assume people who played with these dolls as a kid “become the doll” or whatever it is they are thinking and that is not the case at all.

    In any case, the simple, undeniable truth is we are not wanting to “be the doll”, we are just “playing with it” and nothing more. Same goes for My Scene, Barbie, Monster high etc. etc. It is just a toy.

    Thank you for reading all this if you did.

    From, apparently the only girl in the world who played with Bratz dolls her entire childhood and didn’t turn out to be a satanic, slutty, whore.

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