Childrearing

Girls Playing With Bratz Dolls Equivalent To The Horrors Of Child Labor, Says Mom

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All parents are concerned with the images and films consumed by their children, and toys alone represent a specific market in which even the most laissez-faire of parents make informed choices about what exactly goes into their kids’ hands. Bratz dolls remain one of the most controversial, and while I have yet to meet a mother who describes herself as “pro-Bratz,” many seem to just grit their teeth and hope that the phase will pass. With big heads, skinny bodies, layers of makeup, and an emphasis on heels and miniskirts, Bratz dolls seem to embody everything that would make a parent squirm. But a mother over at The Guardian has gone a step further by deducing that once a little time passes, our collective feelings about Bratz dolls will align with our regretful sentiments about child labor.

Tanith Carey opens her piece by describing how when she was a kid, her well-intentioned parents purchased her candy cigarettes. She argues that no modern parent would be seen letting their children have such a gimmick nowadays, as the candy obviously presents smoking as fun past-time to children.

Carey wrote:

In the same way that no “good” parent would buy a child those candy cigarettes , we have to create a society where no “good” parent wants to be seen buying her young daughter tarty-looking Bratz dolls equipped with a makeup compact and a mobile, either.

We need to press home the point that when a little girl feels that being sexy is the reason she is valued, she will spend more time and energy on what she looks like – instead of other areas of her life, such as education.

I hope we will look back at this period in the same way we once viewed children being sent up chimneys. In the same way as the unregulated labour practices of the Victorian era robbed those children of their childhoods, so the sexualisation and free-for-all raunch culture is robbing our daughters of theirs.

Carey’s argument is impassioned and the tween industry is notoriously founded in making children aspire to act, purchase, and aspire to be older than they are. At the same time, the mothers I know who grimace at the sight of those dolls in their children’s rooms can’t truly be conflated with advocates of child labor. The purchase of toys alone I don’t think can prompt or encourage certain behaviors in children unless their parents are buying them with little to no communication about said issues — like beauty, self-esteem, self worth, etc. Buying Bratz dolls doesn’t instantly give your daughter the signal that higher education doesn’t matter. But handing her one in a house where perhaps there are no books in the home just might.

Never chatting with her or attempting to expand her ideas of self worth is perhaps more dangerous than a Bratz doll, regardless of what other less suggestive toys she may have scattered around her room. Communicating with children and assuring them of your take on matters, regardless of what our culture pumps into their brains, is what makes you the parent and the media just everyone else.

(photo: sweetslyrics.com)