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Bratz and the Construction of Beauty

Throughout my childhood I was the proud owner of an array of dolls. These dolls were my primary source of entertainment and I would spend hours every day staring into their faces and using them as the basis for my fantasies. My mom recalls that I would wake up and go into the living room with an arm full of dolls and arrange them under the piano. I would sit under the piano without saying a word and once in a while I would move a doll from one spot to another. I remember this game well, I was pretending I was a homeless single mother with three or four children and I had to work to help my family survive. I have talked to other girls who have recounted similar fantasy games involving dolls and single motherhood.

Although I had many barbies, (between my sister and I we had about 24), I also owned some lesser-known dolls. Two of my favorites were the “nobody’s perfect? doll and the “happy to be me? doll. My mom bought the “nobody’s perfect? doll at a garage sale and it was a small stuffed thing with a big nose and a t-shirt that read: Nobody’s Perfect. My step-mom gave me the “happy to be me? doll that was the same size as Barbie but with red hair, breasts that did not defy gravity, a normal waist, and flat feet. I loved these dolls because, with my glasses and goofy teeth, I could identify with them more than I could with Barbie dolls.
Girls today do not often own dolls which reinforce that beauty is not the main goal in a woman’s life. Instead, girls own beautiful perfect plastic molds that construct the notion of the beautiful female body. In the video, “A Girl Like Me,? 15 out of 21 dark skinned children preferred white dolls because they saw them as “good? and as more beautiful than dolls with darker skin color. These children had been socialized to believe that the beautiful body is white, or light skinned.
As Ann Decille writes in her piece, Dyes and Dolls, “Dolls in particular invite children to replicate them, to imagine themselves in their dolls’ images? (48). In this way, dolls determine what it is that children place value in. I researched the Bratz dolls website because Bratz dolls are so popular with young female children. Their website reads, “Bratz: The only girls with a passion for fashion.? Bratz dolls perform their female gender by being interested in fashion, make-overs, boys, and super secret slumber parties.
All Bratz dolls have long, smooth, relaxed, “white-girl? hair and gigantic eyes. The girls portray the stereotypical beautiful female with their fashionable dress and makeup. The combination of giant eyes, eye makeup, and the come-hither look painted on the Bratz makes the dolls look sexualized. Bratz represent the Britney Spears/Paris Hilton culture that persuades girls to dress to maximize their sexuality and please boys.
The worst thing I found about this website, aside from the fact that girls are taught to interest themselves only in fashion and make-up, was the collection of Bratz babies. Even the babies have long hair, (often with dyed highlights), eye-makeup, and lipstick. This sends the message to very young girls that they should dress like their older female counterparts and plants notions of beauty in females at an early age. Bratz dolls do the work of patriarchy (Decille) by keeping girls aware from a young age of the importance of beauty and instill in them what it means/is to be feminine.

Comments

absolutely... bratz have influenced a whole generation of young tweens to dye their hair. my daughter (4th grader) was really into the bratz dolls (has like 30 of them - mostly from gifts people - and has been begging for hair dye for over a year - SCARY! no hair dye til jr high (or at least 6th grade).

I am a 13year old now and I kind of agree with what you say. When me and my friends collected and played with bratz dolls we went out and bought make-up like mascara and lipstick, you name it. But the girls whom did not like bratz dolls only got make-up when they started secondary school.

I noticed you paid attention to the eye make-up, but no where was there a mention of the lips. It is one thing for girls or women that have larger/ fuller lips to be portrayed, but this portrayal is sexual in nature. A documentary was done a while back about the opposite sex and attraction, and lipstick in general purpose was to portray labia, another fuller, fleshier, and a different skin tone within the pinks, reds, and browns.

I only wish I could remember this documentary. It is because of this documentary that I find lipstick and blush far more sexual in nature than eye make-up. Blush in itself is to represent the body changes from sexual activity, the "heightened" state. So in essence lipstick and blush means ready to go at the drop of a dime, youthful and sexual are one within make-up.

Eye-make up's general nature was to give lashes a more fuller look, fuller hair, fuller lashes, longer fingernails are all things that are subliminal to us, but represent healthy, strong genes for "mating".

Now these Bratz dolls eye make up is over the top, and I think it is rather interesting that they think it is the epitome of femininity, but interestingly enough the last person I saw wearing this much make-up was a man.

You are COMPLETLY correct. I still play with the Bratz, but not as much. I sorta stoped after my "friend" had the girls + boys with sexual activaty. Bratz are not good. My friend is a boy and he saw my Bratz before and asked "why don't you dress like that?" He belives the oposite sex should look like that.