Bratz versus ‘My Scene’

My Scene Growing Up Glam Kennedy



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.