Trash the plastic slappers
Courier Mail (Australia)
SO THIS is the end product - little girls dressed as sex
This is what the manufacturer of one of the most
successful children's toys ever is really turning out.
It's an intelligent parent's nightmare – and a pervert's
dream. Bratz are childlike dolls – all big eyes and big
heads – packaged as hookers. They have pouting lips,
bare midriffs, plunging tops, tiny skirts and skimpy
lingerie in black and pink.
The dolls look like tarts and you can buy the clothes to
make your little girl look just the same at any number
of fashion outlets. Who would want to do that? Well,
apparently lots of people would. Department stores
aren't known for stocking stuff that no one will want to
And these pictures show just how easy it is to find
sexualised children's fashion in the stores.
What are they thinking of, these mothers who turn their
little girls into sex kittens?
They're certainly not thinking of them as children. And
they're not thinking of the danger – emotional and
physical – to which they are exposing their daughters.
As for who would buy the dolls, well, Bratz outsells
Barbie by two to one and has about 40 per cent of the
$250 million-a-year UK doll market.
When my daughters (now 14 and 11) were at the doll
stage, I loathed the then-popular Barbie. She was vain
and emptyheaded – everything I didn't want my girls to
be. Any Barbie that crossed our threshold came to an
accidental but murderous end.
I didn't rage, because that would have made her more
appealing, but I conspired with my daughters to mock her
until the day she met her unlamented end – by chance
melted on the stove, thrown out with the rubbish or
I never realised what mild stuff she was until I came
across the trash marketed by UK Bratz distributor Vivid
Imagination. Frankly, Bratz dolls make Barbie look like
MGA Entertainment, the family owned California firm that
launched Bratz in June 2001, earns about $4 billion a
year from the slapper dolls and their accessories.
And where one manufacturer fishes successfully, others
will follow, no matter how dirty the water.
In 2005, Asda was condemned by child welfare groups for
marketing black lacy underwear to nine-year-old girls.
In 2003, Bhs was forced to withdraw its Little Miss
Naughty range – which included thongs and padded bras
and was aimed at under-tens – after campaigners called
for a boycott of the store. It beggars belief that such
stuff – push-up bras and high heels – ever make the
Who were these designers and marketeers who sat around
the table cold-bloodedly sexualising little girls for
The message sent out by Bratz and other porny
paraphernalia is that little girls must look like this
or be worthless. The message it sends out to adolescent
boys and perverted men is that these aren't children but
knowing child-women, somehow up for it and dressed for
We live in an age that likes to appear cynical.
If you object that certain products demean girls and
women, well, you are considered a prude.
But it needs to be said, because simply saying "So
what?" is costing the childhood of a generation.
There's a five-year-old I see in the school playground,
clutching her rabbit pencil case.
Bugs Bunny or Peter Rabbit? No, Playboy.
Every day, this child carries her crayons and felt tips
in a case with the symbol of a pornography empire that
has now become so entrenched in our society that you can
buy it on the children's shelves. Her big sister, who is
just old enough to tell the time, has a Playboy watch.
So what? An unhappy childhood, that's what.
These children can never be good enough because there's
always another image to live up to – just as there's
always another slut-doll to buy. At the shops on a
Saturday, you can see children wearing make-up, children
who have spent ages straightening their hair, children
wearing T-shirts with provocative slogans. Hardly signs
of self-esteem and happiness.
Last month, the American Psychological Association
issued a warning about Bratz dolls.
"It is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for
four to eight-year-olds are associated with an
objectified adult sexuality," APA said.
The same month, a Unicef study concluded that British
children were the unhappiest and unhealthiest of their
age group in the developed world. Only this week, the
charity Child-Line reported that one in six of some 6000
calls from youngsters to the helpline about mental
health problems came from girls who talked about
suicide. Some of them were only five years old. It's
ironic that our children, on whom we spend more than
ever, should be feeling so sad.
Children spend much more time alone – often isolated in
their bedrooms – than they used to.
The space that parents once occupied in their lives is
now filled with products and, of course, with computer
screens that link them to advertisers and other
We need to get back into our children's lives and elbow
the creeps out. All the cards are in our parental hands,
just as the money is in our wallets. Parent power is
bigger than pester power.
We can see Bratz off, just as we can see off all the
sexy stuff that is appearing on hangers in the
All we have to do is not buy it.
"They represent all that little girls want to be," say
the makers of the Bratz dolls.
No, they don't. It's up to us to tell our little girls
that they can be much, much more than that. We can do
that by companionship and conversation, by having family
meals and family outings that don't involve the shopping
Happy children don't look like plastic slappers.
Do your daughter a favour: bin her Bratz today.
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