April 17, 2008


There's a girl in our neighborhood who Mia loves with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. Anna - her name for the purposes of this post but not in real life - is five and Mia would follow her to the ends of the earth if it was requested of her. Later this month, Anna will turn six. Mia was invited to the party. The invitation was hand-delivered. I opened it. I was horrified. Beth was horrified. Mia was thrilled. The theme? A Bratz party.

If you don't know, Bratz are little pint-sized hookers-in-training. Their motto? "The only girls with a passion for fashion." Catchy, huh? If you visit their site (find it yourself - I'm not promoting this shit) you can browse their fine selection of inappropriate crap for kids. Baby Bratz, for instance, in which infant-sized hooker-babies are adorned with bikini tops and given hookeriffic names like Lilee and Vinessa (yes, I spelled those correctly). Then there are the regular Bratz - sassy prepubescent fashonistas with names like Yasmin, Cloe and Sasha each with their own eveningwear collections, some of which are more than slightly see-through with slits in their skirts up to their missing plastic hoo-has. If your kids want to model themselves after Britney, you can buy something from the Neon Pop Divaz collection; each comes outfitted with a miniature Gibson Les Paul, an even smaller skirt and a microphone. Yasmin also comes with bunny ears in the Spring Time collection. I can't think of a more obvious nod to Playboy. Once your little girl grows out of the Bratz phase, don't fret - Bratz Kidz are there, methadone-like, to ease any withdrawal pains that might surface. Better yet, Bratz Couture lets you dress your kids just like the Bratz and Bratz Home Decor lets you trick out your home just like a Bratz girl would.

Clearly, I have a few issues with Bratz. They objectify women. Sure, this isn't any worse than how society at large operates but they shrink that objectification into little girl-sized toys. And you know that from the moment kids realize there's something bigger, more adult out there, kids themselves want to be bigger and more adult. So these pieces of plastic crap not only objectify women and say exactly the wrong thing about what little girls should strive to be but they actively market these things to little girls with the visual equivalent of crack.

I can object all I want but it doesn't actually solve the $64,000 question - should Mia go? What would you do?

P.S. - In all likelihood, she'll go and have a great time partially because she's too young to understand just how wrong it is. I'm not that big an asshat killjoy. But what I'm trying to get at here, really, are your thoughts on our tendency as a society to emphasize and glamorize precisely the wrong things.

Posted by Chris at April 17, 2008 7:23 AM

I'd let her go, she is too young to really absorb any of the Bratz hookernese. Unless they have to dress up like one, that I wouldn't allow.

Posted by: jodifur at April 17, 2008 6:40 AM

Come on, it's a party. So the theme is ridiculous and tacky, but seriously, it's a party for a 6-year-old girl. How bad could it be? Most likely it'll just be the invites, paper plates, napkins and a silly Bratz cake. Other than that the little girls will run around having a great time - as little girls are wont to do.

Posted by: Kris at April 17, 2008 6:43 AM

Well, my boys were invited to a party last year for the daughter of a friend of mine, and it was a Bratz-themed party. I let them go, but refused to let them purchase her a Bratz toy as a gift. And I explained to them why I didn't approve of the Bratz (after the party. before the party they didn't know what Bratz were).

Sure, let her go. But don't purchase a Bratz gift, and later in the store when Mia asks for a Bratz doll, explain to her why you don't like them.

Of course, I won't let my kids watch Spongebob, either, and most other parents that I know think that's silly. So take my opinion for what it's worth. But Spongebob is rude, and loud, and whiny, and often borders on vulgar. Not the example I want set for my kids.

Posted by: Alissa at April 17, 2008 7:16 AM

I think it would be ok for her to attend. Most likely the only things Bratz themed are the invites and napkins/plates.

I do want to share how I completely agree with your view! I have always referred to them as hoochie mama's. I hate what they represent and I had/have refused to allow my daughter to own them. She did end up getting one for her 5th b-day and I allowed her to keep it since it was a gift from a friend. The funny thing, she never really plays with it. She was all excited at first, like she was drinking her first beer in front of me and I couldn't stop her but now, I could make it disappear and it would take her months to figure it out.

Stick to your guns Chris...its going to take alot more perservering parents to wipe out the hoochie mama toys and clothes our young ladies are faced with. Lets get them back to being kids. I'm all for wholesome!

Posted by: joi at April 17, 2008 7:16 AM

I hate those things with a passion- and people thought *Barbie* was bad when I was growing up.

I mean, it's fine to let her go, I guess. I would inquire as to the extent of the bratz-ness. It would be ridiculous to think that the little girls would be... dressing up as them... but stranger things have happened, and that would be ridiculous.

Posted by: Caleal at April 17, 2008 7:21 AM

My 5 (almost 6) year old is NOT allowed to have Bratz or play with them in my house. I told her that I don't think they are age-appropriate (I don't think *I* am old enough for them!), and while I know she probably plays with Bratz when she is at her friends' houses, she won't play with them here...EVER. There are enough things in my daughter's life that I'm going to have to try to counteract with lessons on what is appropriate, what is "nice", and what is NOT skanky - and I'm not about to start now by giving the impression that I think these dolls are okay - because IMO, they aren't.

THAT SAID... Chances are the Bratz theme won't carry over too much beyond the paper plates and cups and all that. If you think Mia would have fun, go. Hey, take the little guy and if you think it's a bit...much... just say, "Whoa! Looks like we've had a diaper blowout. GOTTA GO!" ;)

Posted by: sarah at April 17, 2008 7:32 AM

Oh Chris, I am sharing in the horror. Bratz= Slutz in my opinion.

I'd let Mia go, because, as you pointed out, she won't know the difference from the theme. She's only going to be excited about hanging out with the big girls. Then, when she gets home, you can promptly throw out any Bratz paraphernalia.

Ugh, Bratz. If this were a 5 year old Lady we were talking about, the decision to let her attend would be much more difficult. I don't buy into (har, a pun! before 9 AM!) the whole commercialization of sluttiness for my toddler. Or my young girl. Or my teenage girl. Sweetie and I will just be those lame parents.

Posted by: chatty cricket at April 17, 2008 7:36 AM

I agree with you absolutely. But, as you said, you'll let her go, she'll have a blast and never know the difference. Until she comes home after school at 14 with a Bratz tattoo...

Posted by: Shelly at April 17, 2008 7:38 AM

I am the same way. I filter everything my daughter sees. When in reality, I hated when my parents did the same thing to me growing up(ironically). My suggestion is to have something fun conveniently scheduled for that day. This way no one gets offended while Mia gets to have a fun day either with dad or the whole family.

Posted by: harrylips at April 17, 2008 7:46 AM

I love that you have such a stance on the Bratz (seriously). Most dads I know don't, they just don't care. I hate those little hooker dolls. Explain to me why the baby Bratz are sporting more makeup than a $5 hooker? My daughter isn't allowed to play with them either. I know you said you would probably let her go anyway, that's what I would do. She's young enough where it probably won't really phase her, and like others said, if she starts begging and pleading for Bratz dolls you can explain to her why you don't allow hookers in the home. Or, lock her up in her room until she's 18 (which, really, might not be a bad idea given that she's CLEARLY going to be even more beautiful than she already is)!

Also, I'm so glad to see another parent say their kid can't watch Spongebob! He's outlawed in my house too! :)

Posted by: js at April 17, 2008 7:51 AM

Of course you won't be able to protect her forever from these types of issues. I think my question would be will she have fun at a party for a 6 y/o? My experience with this type of thing is the younger ones get pushed out of the "fun" by the older girls, but if you are there then you can just find an excuse to leave possibly.

There were a lot of toys I wouldn't buy my daughter when she was younger because of the message I didn't want her to get. Yet you still have to discuss it with them at some point because all their friends will have those same toys.

Really why do we even have kids? It's hard!

Posted by: daisy at April 17, 2008 7:54 AM

Yeah, we hate them too and luckily have avoided them. It's sad, disgusting, fucking insane what people will market to kids.

I would probably take her, but be prepared to resist/avoid/dis-envow them afterwards, despite pleas. With my kids, a flat "NO" will usually cut that off at the pass pretty quick. My norm is to give the calm, daddy-voice with an explanation, so when the "NO" comes out they recognize it really quick.

Bratz? NO.

Posted by: Brad at April 17, 2008 7:55 AM

Holy crap...you used the word Hookeriffic. That my friend is my new favorite word ever.

"Yo! Check her out she is Hookeriffic."

Let Mia go. It is only a party. But I am sure it will be a Hookeriffic Party.

Posted by: william at April 17, 2008 8:00 AM

Ooh, these things annoy me so much. You don't want your kid influenced by them but you also don't want her to miss out on being with her friends. I'd tend to agree with you and send her and then just not encourage her interest in the toys. I mean, Vinessa? She is only two. I'd be tempted to give the girl a really beautiful wooden toy as a present too. But then she's probably ignore it. Would make me feel better though.

Posted by: Katherine at April 17, 2008 8:02 AM

Yeah, I'd let her go but just reading your post gave me the willies. I'm sure in time, she'll want whatever objectifying, growing-our-children-up-too-fast toys are on the market and she can get her first tangible lesson on loving herself and others for who they are, not how they dress (or don't dress).

Also, the Bratz babies? Terrify me.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at April 17, 2008 8:06 AM

First off, I'm glad it's you and not me.

That being said, I agree with the commenters above who say let her go. The worst case scenario is some junky Bratz crap in a loot bag that has to get "lost" during naptime.

Any other influences from the party's theme will either be quickly forgotten, or can be easily explained away by you and Beth. You guys do a really good job (at least from the anecdotes you post) at explaining things to Mia so they make sense. I have complete faith that you can explain to her why Bratz aren't OK in the grand scheme of things. (Just be sure it doesn't get convoluted in Mia's mind that her friend isn't OK for liking them.)

Good luck.

Posted by: SciFi Dad at April 17, 2008 8:10 AM

Interestingly, a girl with a bratz name in my midst will likely be acting as a human form of the bratz in 1-2 years. Maybe it's the name ?

If all parents would just smarten up and be like you then Bratz wouldn't be an issue. Why can't nice things, toys, etc. be popular ?

I'm pro party.

Posted by: Heather at April 17, 2008 8:12 AM

I agree with you about Bratz dolls... the perpetuate some really negative crap. I wish that parents would stop supporting that garbage and get their kids into positive things, instead of giving them a helping hand into adolescent sexification.

I'm pro party... from what I've read of you and Beth, you are instilling in Mia the strength of character and self that she won't be disillusioned by whorish dolls :)

Posted by: Kate at April 17, 2008 8:16 AM

I am personally horrified that my 6 and 3 year old nieces have these dolls...and my instinct is to say don't expose Mia to these "toys", But as I am not yet a parent that is easy for me to say. Will Mia be aware if you choose not to go? If so, I guess take her to the party, but run as fast as you can once you see anything objectionable.

Posted by: diane at April 17, 2008 8:19 AM

It's horrifying. My niece is five and has those dolls, so when we play with them (ugh) I try to use it as a learning opportunity, like "Look at these silly clothes they have on. Nobody dresses like that for real, do they?"

Right now Mia's at the age where she probably in all honesty is not noticing that kind of stuff. She'll probably just be so excited to be at a party with "big kids." Of course, later on, you can try to steer Mia's attention away from toys like that, or if all else fails, use it as a learning opportunity. Just don't be preachy. That'd probably have the wrong effect.

Posted by: Fraulein N at April 17, 2008 8:19 AM

wow...tough call...i am so anti-Bratz...besides being disturbing, they are ugly as all hell!!!

in this case, you have to weigh whether you think Mia will now haunt you from now until Christmas for Bratz dolls if she goes to this party and is turned on to them. If you think that would be the case I would not let my own daughter go...I would find something that we had to do that day, respectfully decline and send a gift over at another time (hand deliver even). Bratz are certainly something you don't want Mia liking at this stage in her life (as you already have figured out).

Posted by: lfm at April 17, 2008 8:21 AM

First of all, are they aware that one of their dolls is named after a birth control pill? Ironic, eh?

I think Mia's probably too young to get how ridiculous it is, just like you said.

Posted by: Stephanie at April 17, 2008 8:22 AM

Somehow I don't think one party will ruin her for life. I agree with you about Bratz.

Still I'm live and let live and most little girls outgrow all that quickly. I'm not even sure it calls for any comment from you, as young as she is. That could wait until she wants one for herself and it may never happen.

If it's any comfort, my youngest great-granddaughter used to buy Barbies at yard sales for the sole purpose of dismembering them. I couldn't take a step without tripping over a headless Barbie. The other two girls couldn't be bothered.

Posted by: ann adams at April 17, 2008 8:26 AM

I agree with the whole disagreeing of the Bratz Ho Squad. I truly think that the whole idea is to get it into the back of their mind early in life, plant the seed, and then it is easier when they get older to influence them in certain directions. Of course I beleive this because this is what my mother believed.

When my sister and I were young through about 16 years old, everything we ever watched had been seen by our mother first. Nothing that wasn't rated G ever graced my eyeballs before the age of 12 and I never saw a rated R movie until I moved out of her house. MTV was forbidden. The radio...off limits.

This is kind of extreme I must say, but I can see why she did it.

Posted by: Kelly M. at April 17, 2008 8:26 AM

I agree with the whole disagreeing of the Bratz Ho Squad. I truly think that the whole idea is to get it into the back of their mind early in life, plant the seed, and then it is easier when they get older to influence them in certain directions. Of course I beleive this because this is what my mother believed.

When my sister and I were young through about 16 years old, everything we ever watched had been seen by our mother first. Nothing that wasn't rated G ever graced my eyeballs before the age of 12 and I never saw a rated R movie until I moved out of her house. MTV was forbidden. The radio...off limits.

This is kind of extreme I must say, but I can see why she did it.

Posted by: Kelly M. at April 17, 2008 8:26 AM

I have three girls, 16, 14, and 10. We got away with only owing 2 Bratz during that time (both gifts). I let my girls know my feelings about them and told them I wouldn't buy them, nor were they allowed to. Luckily the crowd we run didn't have many girls who were into it.

We do have some Barbies. Almost as bad, but not quite. Extra slutty looking dolls weren't bought.

We mostly emphasized American Girl dolls. They are expensive. But they are well made, can be dressed up, and oh yeah - they are GIRLS, not women.

I would probably let her go to the party, even if she were older. I would point out the stuff that I found objectionable about the dolls AFTER the party, so she didn't repeat to the young hostess and make her feel judged.

Posted by: Lisa V at April 17, 2008 8:39 AM

It sounds like that would be a good day to take the family to the zoo, the playground or some other family outing that sadly prevents Mia from attending the party but still results in a day full of fun.

Posted by: wendy at April 17, 2008 8:47 AM

I hate, hate, hate the Brats. I have 3 nieces and I never have and never will buy them on of those dolls.

Posted by: Amy at April 17, 2008 8:49 AM

Wow! This post struck a cord. As you and Beth surely know you can't control everything your children are exposed to outside of your house. You won't allow Bratz into your house and when Mia can understand you'll explain why and then she'll draw her own conclusions based on what you and Beth have taught her.

On a personal note it isn't even so much the toys that bug me but the clothes for little girls make me crazy. I have 3 daughters (God help me) and trying to find something for my 8 year old that isn't slutty is extremely difficult. I don't understand why people would want children to dress like cheap, trashy adults instead of just letting them be the cute kids they are.

Posted by: Jules at April 17, 2008 8:53 AM

Then there are the regular Bratz - sassy prepubescent fashonistas with names like Yasmin, Cloe and Sasha...

Imagine my horror at discovering a doll in this line named after me! Why couldn't there be an American Daoll named Dana??

Bratz are wrong on many levels, but this can be a teaching moment rather than a crushing blow to a 5 year old who has yet to grasp the meaning behind it all.

Posted by: Dana at April 17, 2008 8:54 AM

Of course I'd let her go. But I'd dig in my heels before I let her actually PURCHASE any of that crap after the party, as you know she is going to want to do.

I hate the Bratz dolls with the fiery hot passion of a thousand suns. Almost as much as I hate the Disney Princesses. Another reason I'm glad I had a boy.

Posted by: moo at April 17, 2008 8:57 AM

I do not understand why anyone buys their daughters that Bratz crap. I cannot think of a worse example to put in front them. I mean, Barbie looks tame and rational compared to them! Of course, my mom wouldn't let me have Barbie (I had the hippie/crunchy Sunshine family instead) so naturally, I wanted a Barbie very badly.

Mia probably is too young to really get sucked in or care about the Bratz. And any Bratz-themed party favors can just mysteriously disappear, right?

Posted by: bad penguin at April 17, 2008 8:58 AM

I hate Bratz as much as the next person but I think you should let her go.

Then you expalin to her why you don't like Bratz... but after the party. As my niece says, "My Mommy and Daddy say they wear too much makeup."

I say close enough.

Posted by: Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah at April 17, 2008 8:58 AM

It's just a party. Mia would probably be horribly upset if she can't go. And I'm sure your good parenting will far outweigh the negatives of the party.

Just a suggestion, of course.

Posted by: cassie-b at April 17, 2008 8:59 AM

You recall a few entries back where we were discussing religion and possibly inappropriate humour, and I offered that pretty much anything that took itself too seriously was game? Bratz fall under that umbrella. It's only too bad that it'll be a while before Mia's sense of the absurd is refined enough to be separated sufficiently from the issue. In the meantime, I'm going to go with consensus. The same lack of separation will keep this just a novel, fun thing to do for her. You can parent your way out of any aftermath pretty easily, I expect.

Posted by: martin at April 17, 2008 9:01 AM

I have to admit that I had no idea what or who Bratz were before reading this. I agree with most of those on here, that you should let her go, but just not buy any of the Bratz stuff.

My oldest just turned 5, and she doesn't know who the Bratz, Zoey 101, or Hannah Montana are.

Posted by: Rex at April 17, 2008 9:06 AM

I would also let her go.

I seriously wish parents would stop dressing their little girls like prostitutes.

Posted by: Maria at April 17, 2008 9:07 AM

I fear stuff like this. Bratz are like play guns to boys. They are tempting and colorful and I am sure kind of cute. BUT then again what about Barbie? I mean she was probably kind of like Bratz to previous generations?! I guess it is all about talking with your kids when they need it, to explain this is just a toy and not real life. Ultimately, I just like to think that esp. at this age kids are resilient and likely since you guys are doing a great job parenting Mia the Bratz thing will go over her head because there are BALLOONS, CAKE, and PARTY FAVORS!

Posted by: Christina at April 17, 2008 9:15 AM

Let her go to the party, then if she wants a doll, explain why you don't want her to have one (I like the "too much makeup" reason -- easy to understand for a little girl).

Regarding the dolls, as my sister-in-law says about them, where's the Religious Right when you need them?

Posted by: Alison at April 17, 2008 9:20 AM

I am glad this is not my problem. I hate the Bratz and Top Model toys with the power of 1,000 suns. My husband, very protective of his little girl, hates them even more. WHY do people let their kids have these things? They are much worse than Barbie, IMHO, and I have allowed Barbie so that I can say no to Bratz. At least Barbie doesn't look like she just got off a rough night on the pole.

Posted by: AmeliaB at April 17, 2008 9:23 AM

Oh, man. I had never really seen a Bratz doll until a couple of years ago when we got a little girl's "letter to Santa" for a charity drive. She wanted a Bratz doll more than anything. When I saw what they were, I didn't know what to do - give her one, and feel sick about it, or not give her the one thing she asked "Santa" for and feel sick about it.

I finally caved and found one with the least whore-y outfit - pajamas and a robe, the "sleepover" version. But I admit I felt dirty. Those dolls are gross.

I'm sure Mia won't even understand what they are, as she'll probably be more impressed with Anna and her friends than the dolls/theme, but I feel your ickiness factor. Gah.

Posted by: SpaceCase at April 17, 2008 9:26 AM

Does anyone else find it ironic that one of those Bratz dolls is named after a birth control pill?

Posted by: GreenCanary at April 17, 2008 9:31 AM

I'd let her go. Mia's too young to understand your concerns over this one. I never understood the draw with the Bratz dolls. One of Harley's closest female friends was into them.

We felt this way about toy guns with Harley. He was given one or two as gifts and we tossed them without telling him.

Posted by: Diane at April 17, 2008 9:36 AM

let her go...she's young enough that it won't matter.

Posted by: ali at April 17, 2008 9:44 AM

I'd hate it, but I'd let her go too. But I hate Bratz with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. You think you're a kill joy? I got you beat. Years ago a bunch of us from work adopted a family for Christmas and when we got the list I saw that the girl had Bratz on her wish list. My boss was going to buy her a doll because IT WAS ON THE LIST! And I refused to let her. I had to fight hard for that too and people accused me of being too strict but I didn't care. You gotta draw the line somewhere.

Posted by: patricia at April 17, 2008 9:48 AM

Oh, dude. You're screwed either way. Do people actually let their kids play with those things? i have never met one person that didn't loathe those stupid dolls.

Good luck. And you'd better start stocking up on the blue eyeshadow and the clear high heels.

Honestly, clear high heels are kind of hot. In the right context. I'll shut up now.

Posted by: Mr Lady at April 17, 2008 9:51 AM

My 8-year-old is only allowed to have the Bratz cats and ponys. None of the actual girl dolls - because I hate them and she knows I hate them.

Of course, I also buy her shirts 2 sizes too big because all of the clothes seem to be cut to show off a little girl's belly and I don't think we really need that. So I buy big and roll up sleeves.

Anyway, I say let her go, skip the Bratz present, and just divert her attention if she seems Bratz obsessed after. Like someone else said, it will likely only be the Bratz plates, cake, etc. I doubt they'll all be dressing up like hookers while they're there. ;)

Posted by: Traci at April 17, 2008 10:11 AM

I witnessed a conversation between a mom and her 9-year-old in Target over at the party supply section. Mom asked if she wanted a princess party and reached over to put a tiara on the girl's head. The girl pushed her away, "Uh-uh. I don't want to be a princess." Mom grinned and said, "Good girl."

With parents like you guys, I believe the hookery will not get into her head. But on this party, I'd say go and let her have a good time. Let's face it, once she starts school, the Bratz will find their way into her and your life through her friends anyway. Might as well get a head start...

Posted by: oakley at April 17, 2008 10:15 AM

What on earth is wrong with this girl's parents?? Yeah, like you, I would probably let my girls go. They're about the same age as Mia, and they totally wouldn't get the cooterific qualities of the Bratz. But I worry for the future of poor Anna.

I don't even want my kids to have Barbie dolls, and they're far less offensive than the Bratz. Ug.

Posted by: Kelly at April 17, 2008 10:19 AM

Mila was given a Baby Bratz for her 3rd birthday. It was wearing a thong. It didn't last long in my house.

That said, I would let her go to the party, and send her with a documentary on the dangers of prostitution as a gift. : )

Posted by: mymilabean at April 17, 2008 10:22 AM

I expect that Mia's heartbreak over not going would be worse and longer-lasting than the brief exposure to the Bratz influence. So, it's a tough call, but I'd say let her go.

But what I don't understand is what parents like these things. Are there really parents out there who are all, "Oh, these little hooker babies are so adorable!" I suppose there must be, but I've never met any of them.

Posted by: Alias Mother at April 17, 2008 10:23 AM

As a mom with 4 kids, I honestly think that sometimes parents make too much fuss over a plastic doll. Barbie didn't send me rushing to the plastic surgeon for a boob job, and Bratz didn't turn my teens into hoochies. It's what the two of you teach her that will stick - not the doll.

Posted by: Theresa at April 17, 2008 10:26 AM

i don't have kids, but i agree that she's probably too young to really understand what it means and probably won't have any lasting effect. if i was faced with the same situation i'd go and just make mildly, vaguely (did... did i hear that right?), inappropriate comments about underage hookers.


i couldn't decide if this was funny or not for a long time. i ended up on sad. woohoo Tacoma.

Posted by: Jared at April 17, 2008 10:59 AM

Here is where I am glad I have a boy. I don't know how my poor mom did it with three girls.

Oh wait. She parented us.

I would (as my mom would have) let her go to the party, and as she is so young, I don't think you need to worry too much about having to have any tough discussions about appropriate and inappropriate dress/looks/toys.

If she was older, I would (as my mom would have) have a discussion with her about how Bratz are not nice toys.

This all being said, I HATE these "dollz." And I hate the spelling of the names, the brand, too...

I played with Barbie when I was a kid and my mom would let us have some of the outfits, and I understood why. But Bratz? I don't know that they have anything appropriate.

They glorify that little girls should "sell" themselves by looking cheap. Yuck, yuck, yuck... That it is "cute" to look like a mini-adult - a mini-adult who walks the street. On top of that, they all are given major attitudes in the little books I've seen them in. Exactly what I want to promote a young girl to have - an attitude of disrespect for herself and the world around her.

I remember when my niece put them on her Christmas list. My older sister (her mom) informed us that that was one gift we all should ignore, as she didn't want them in her house.

As to the mother of the five-year-old? What was she thinking? Yuck.

Posted by: RC at April 17, 2008 11:00 AM

Kudos to Theresa, Mother of 4. Playing with Bratz dolls and watching Sponge Bob will not turn your kids into hookers and goofy sponges. My daughter, who will be 14 in a few months played with Bratz past her 12th birthday. She still watches Sponge Bob and even watched Barney and Friends when she was a toddler. Guess what? She is a straight A student, Junior Honor Society secretary, will receive her 2nd degree black belt in the fall, is a very good softball player, has the female lead in the school play, is a peer mediator at school, volunteers at a horse rescue farm, figured out there was no Santa at 5, and has a heart of gold. 90% of that credit goes to the wife, for being a stay at home mom, 5% each to me and my daughter for listening and not going with the flow. Oh, she'll still go with the flow and be a "typical" teenager at times, but probably less than 5% of the time. Would you restrict your sons from playing with Hot Wheels because they go fast?

It is the guidance (or lack of) from parents that make the difference.

Let her go to the party.

Posted by: David at April 17, 2008 11:01 AM

dude, I hear ya. So glad I had a boy.

I call this one "Skanky Ho Barbie" although Matel calls her "Fashion Show Teresa"

Posted by: kalisa at April 17, 2008 12:02 PM

Love your solution-- let her go and educate her later. On the other side of the gender aisle, I won't let my 2 yo son have toy guns or camouflage clothing. I expect this will be a battle later on but for now, he's hooked on swordfighting a la Peter Pan. Until there's a Brady bill for swordfighting, I guess I'm okay with that. Incidentally, sexism isn't new. As I'm watching the "classic" Disney movies through my son's eyes, I'm horrified by Tinkerbell thinking she's fat and Peter espousing that "girls talk too much." I'm going to have to unplug the damned tv.

Posted by: rebeccaeee at April 17, 2008 12:39 PM

I like oakley's story. Reminds me of when my mom took me to see Snow White when I was three. "Did you like the movie, sweetie?" "No. Snow White is boring. I like Princess Leia better."

Like you already said, it isn't really a question of Mia going to the party.

And I agree that it isn't just playing with these dolls that turns kids into self-hating, skanky hos. My problem with Bratz (which is why I don't have a problem with Hot Wheels) is the blatant promotion of women and girls as brainless, sexual objects. And this value system - which still runs rampant in our culture - is so accepted that a toy manufacturer can produce such toys aimed at young children. It isn't just girls that get the message they're sending - boys get it, too.

I could go on and on. I'll confess I bought my daughter a Bratz toy once. It was a guitar - the cheapest toy guitar at Target, aimed at distracting my 2-year-old from destroying our Guitar Hero guitars. As soon as I got it home, I ripped the Bratz sticker off (cartoon character). It ain't Bratz no more!

Posted by: kate at April 17, 2008 12:44 PM

I am going to have a different opinion than you and most of your readers, as usual. lol

I think the Bratz dolls are ridiculous. That being said, I have never freaked out if one of my girls was playing with a Bratz doll. Now, my girls (5, 7, 13) have managed to figure out all by themselves how stupid the dolls are. They make fun of the make-up, the tacky clothes, the oversized heads...they think they are hilarious.

Raise kids right, and for the most part, they are not dumb, they get things, they can figure things out.

Posted by: Leilani at April 17, 2008 12:46 PM

ok...just went back and read the comments. BIG kudos to Theresa. She said what I was trying to say but didn't know how. Great comment from David as well.

Posted by: Leilani at April 17, 2008 12:50 PM

I had it out with my sister one year over my niece's love of that crap. We call the entire "fashion doll" aisle at the toy store the prostitute starter kit aisle. Barbie, Bratz, all of it. Actually, wasn't Barbie originally manufactured as a sex toy? I ended up giving in on the brand, but bought a gift that had no clothing from the red light district involved. This year you got it easy, she won't absorb any of it on that scary level. But you've got the right attitude. And when it comes time that she's forming her little mind around those concepts, you'll have set the right tone.

Posted by: OS at April 17, 2008 12:57 PM

OMG. Bratz are so fugly. I would be happy if they disappeared along with Paris Hilton and everything else skanky in the world.

I have one major issue here with the consensus that a 2-year-old doesn't understand what's going on. I am sure Mia doesn't understand the implications, but every image and behavior that a kid sees has an impact. Even at age 2. These images do have long term implications.

That said, it is impossible to shelter them forever and it's not even advised. Your power is in modeling and discussing things with her.

I have an anecdote on this from another perspective, kind of. My son was not allowed to play with guns or have toy guns as a small child. He would make toy guns out of anything he could (play-do, twigs off of trees, etc.) I couldn't stop it. At the age of 19, he ended up joining the ARMY and going to Iraq where he held a very large rifle and a machine gun on a daily basis. My best pacifist intentions only worked insofar as he did what he wanted and learned how to do it safely.

Anyway. Damn bratz! I seriously feel your disgust over them. They are vile.

Posted by: Trixie at April 17, 2008 1:02 PM

Well, I will disagree with most of the above and actually say I would be the bad guy and not let The Swimmy go.

If it's not what you believe in, then it's not okay for her to be exposed to it. (And I'm betting it's more than just paper napkins and plates.)

It can't be acceptable one day and not the next. If the draw is to be with her friend Anna, then I love the idea mentioned above about delivering a gift to her personally -- and then maybe having a cupcake with her?

Oh, this parenting thing. So. Very. Fun.

Posted by: Pammer at April 17, 2008 1:03 PM

Actually, the more I think about it the more upset I get.

The reason sexism exists is because everyone says "it's no big deal" or "she doesn't really understand" therefore it's OK and not harmful really. "As long as you explain it later."

I know you would not let Mia go to a racist party with plates, cups, and napkins that showed a racist symbol. You wouldn't let her go to a homophobe party that celebrated homophobia or gay bashing. I know that people think treating women like objects and sluts is really not that bad but, you know what? It is.

This isn't about the exposure because you can't prevent Mia from being exposed to sexist propaganda at all. This is about letting a two-year old think it is okay to CELEBRATE women and young girls as sexual objects. A party is a celebration.

Again, if Mia's favorite friend was having a Jim Crow party celebrating black people as ignorant and amusing and reaffirming their status as less-than-human, you would not allow her to go, would you?

Racism is slowly declining. Jim Crow parties are not in vogue, thankfully. Yet, sexism is ok? I don't see why it should be okay. Ever.

Anytime you mix a celebration with a degrading image, it sends a very destructive and unhealthy message. In my opinion.

Just had to get that off my chest! I see that Pammer has an excellent point too. Kind of what I'm saying too.

The fact that you are questioning it at all though, makes you a ROCK star to me! Go Chris and Beth. :)

Posted by: Trixie at April 17, 2008 1:22 PM

Ok, after reading all the comments, here is mine.

I grew up in a very loving yet very restrictive home. Everything was taboo. I mean everything. There were years when we didn't have a tv, no dancing, I never saw my parents even touch a glass of wine, not "rock music" (no mtv) and the list goes on and on... It felt like all decisions were made for me; Mom and Dad knew best, they loved me and they wanted to protect me.

I grew up with some issues. The biggest being... I found it hard to grow up and make my own choices in life. There were other issues too. I'm not knocking the 'rents, but the balance was a little off centre. It was a lovely, warm safe bubble to grow up in, although I felt a little ostracized at times, but I just too scared to leave that bubble.

With my kids (as much as I love my parents) I decided I wanted to do it a little different… A lot less taboo-ing and a lot more empowering.

My daughters are now almost 13, 11 and 7. We had Bratz. Hell, I even bought some. I didn't like them. I didn't/don't like them for the same reasons you don't. But I had seen too many things 'demonized' when I was growing up. The girls wanted them, played with them and then discarded them. Hannah ditched them very soon in favour of climbing trees and building forts or riding her bike with the boys. Heidi, well, she'd rather create a PowerPoint or bake a cake and Rosie, who's still six has inherited the other girls' and received a few of her own, but she'd rather play with her brother, or dress up her teddies... or dress-up herself or make mud pies.

Honestly, I think Bratz are wrong in design and concept. But I felt making them 'taboo' would do one of 2 things, either make the girls resentful or make them want them more.

Yes, there will come a time when I will feel I have to draw the line under and issue, put my foot down and say no. But for me, it wasn't with Bratz. They were a non-issue and as far as I am concerned, my girls have not been affected by owning them.

The Bratz now lay in a basket, neglected, with feet and clothes missing. They reappear now and then but my (decently dressed and modestly behaved) children normally play games like detectives, vets or surgery with them.

So, yeah, others may think I'm a bad mom... but I'm the best one they have. Someday, my children can sit around the kitchen table with their friends and say "As much as I love my parents, I am going to do it different with my own kids". I say, good. I will have taught them to be objective, decisive and confident.

Posted by: Amber at April 17, 2008 1:45 PM

Let her go but dress her as She-Ra.

Posted by: jessica at April 17, 2008 2:36 PM

I'm so glad I have a boy.

I would let her go. She's 3 she's still to young to absorb all the Bratzness. I think...???

Posted by: Darla at April 17, 2008 2:47 PM

I'm so glad I have a boy.

I would let her go. She's 3 she's still to young to absorb all the Bratzness. I think...???

Posted by: Darla at April 17, 2008 2:47 PM

I feel your pain. Our daughter has labeled us "the meanest parents EVER" because she can't have Bratz things or dress like a whore. When pressed we answer honestly and tell her they are not appropriately dressed and we won't have it. Stick to your guns and she'll get over it. Ours has... mostly.

In the meantime, let her go to the party as long as you're reasonably confident there will be no dressing up portion of the party. Alternatively, be busy that day with a previously planned, VERY important engagement that she will love and let her buy her friend a gift.

Good luck.

Posted by: sunshine at April 17, 2008 2:47 PM

The weird and kind of depressing thought here is how Bratz has managed to make Barbie seem wholesome in comparison.

Posted by: Angela at April 17, 2008 3:09 PM

Whatever happened to good old Barbie and Ken? I mean sure Barbie was stacked and Ken was a stud, but they were sluts at all.
I would not allow any Bratz stuff around the house, and I probably would discourage her going by say planning a trip that simply can't be changed.
I have to wonder at the parents that are encouraging their kids with this!

Posted by: Maribeth at April 17, 2008 3:37 PM

I'm totally anti-Bratz too. Won't buy them, give them, if I ever saw one of my nieces with one I'd take it away (if my sister hadn't already) and toss it in the trash.

However, I think Mia should go to the party. I'm guessing that she's young enough that she won't yet be effected by the scariness that is Bratz. And in the end, there's only so much you can shelter her from. There are bound to be more Bratz (or some other inappropriate character) parties in her future.

Posted by: Mandy Lou at April 17, 2008 3:39 PM

I'm pro party but also don't think she should bring a slutz gift or anything with that theme. I'm all about the explanations. At her age, of course, that's probably "Bratz are yucky," but growing up in your home she'll likely think so too. I can't believe so many parents allow crap like that.

Posted by: Much More Than A Mom at April 17, 2008 3:45 PM

I wouldn't let my daughter go. I think if you are against something then you're against it, even if your kid is still young enough that she wouldn't catch on. But you know kids are so impressionable - even at 3 years old. You could always do something with Mia that both you and Beth approve of instead?

Posted by: Dooneybug at April 17, 2008 4:47 PM

Exposing a child to something new is an opportunity to talk about it and what value you place on it.

I'm not suggesting that you put PCP in their sippy cup or anything, but this is a great opportunity to get the conversation started with her.

Posted by: k8 at April 17, 2008 5:00 PM

omg. i posted and it didn't take. i'll give ya the cliff note version.

i think you and your wife are over thinking the whole situation. they're kids. let them be kids. morals are taught at home-not by mattel and their plastic dolls. my daughter loved mary kate and ashley when she was little-she by no means has grown up to act or be like them. she's smart enough to realize that. if you get your boxers in a bunch and the same goes for your wife-then y'all are in for a long road ahead---trust me. there are going to be so many other things much more important in the grand scheme of things to be worried about your daughter being invited to a party where the theme is plastic dolls with big red lips wearing bikini's.

that's my 2cents. that and 3.08 will get you a tall latte at starbucks across the street.

Posted by: kimmyk at April 17, 2008 5:55 PM

My two cents is that I'd let her go.

Elizabeth has two of the dolls that she was given on her 6th birthday this past October. I made a deal with her... She knows that I will NEVER purchase anything Bratz-related for her, but I will not make her throw away things that others give her, or ban them from the house in any fashion.

Elizabeth will tell you that I don't like Bratz because "people who dress the way that they do must not feel very good about themselves". Actually, their marketing dept. gave me a great starter at that with their "Be Who You Want To Be" campaign from a bit ago... I asked Elizabeth how they could all be "unique" if they all looked and acted the same. She told me that they weren't acting very unique at all.

Posted by: amber at April 17, 2008 6:30 PM

I read some of the responses and agree....those dolls are THE worst thing to hit the shelves. I would have to say no to the party, I know its cruel, but Mia is at the age where she will more than likely continue to ask for a doll as soon as she sees them and hears the other kids talking about them. There will be Bratz decorations and probably lots of Bratz dolls as gifts. I would think about this one...

Posted by: Dana at April 17, 2008 6:30 PM

I would let her go. She most likely won't even notice the hookers everywhere - on the cups; the plates; the streamers; and, the wrapping paper :)

Honestly, cake, pizza and games are wonderful for children. She will either be exposed to Bratz at this party or another.

I feel the same way about Barbie and her crew! They say if she were built that way in real life she would fall flat on her fake face because her boobs are like double zz's!

Posted by: Amber at April 17, 2008 7:21 PM

I let my daughter do and play with a lot of things but I draw the line at Bratz. That said, I would let her go to the Bratz party. But as soon as I got home, I would begin deprogramming her.

Posted by: Chag at April 17, 2008 7:53 PM

Definitely some strong opinions on this one, eh? I hate those stupid little prostitot dolls. And I really appreciate your viewpoint on them :-) I'd probably talk to Anna's parents about what's involved, just how "Bratzy" it will be, and if it's too much pick something else and have her over or drop by later for a special Mia tea party or something for her bday. And if it's not totally appalling, go with her (I assume you would anyway?) and just moderate what you have to. I like someone else's idea of taking Owen as an out lol. The girls would probably love him, especially since he's such a happy little guy, and Mia would get to show him off, raising her big girl cachet ;)

Posted by: Heather at April 17, 2008 9:50 PM

My neiece (9 yrs old andwho lives with me) has no hips, so I have a constant "butt crack" problem with her. The message that sends, connected with the culture that supports Btatz is a tough sell. I really don't think she understands the signal concept. I've had to put my foot down and CONTROLL her clothes. I HATE BRATZ!!!!!!

Posted by: mary at April 17, 2008 10:55 PM

Bratz are totally, 100% forbidden in my home. I make it clear every time one of my girls' birthdays or Christmas rolls around that they are NOT to be given as gifts and if they are, they will find their way into the recycling bin ASAP (I can't even bring myself to give them away to charity and subject some other poor kid to their wrongness).

Posted by: Kimberly at April 18, 2008 11:03 AM

Yes let her go. She's little, she won't understand but if she asks for one, distract her with Barbie's little sister Kelly and her little friends with really cool accessories (if you feel you have to get her anything at all.)

Baby Girl wanted a Bratz doll so bad and I told her if we could find one that was fully clothed, no belly showing, no super high slit skirt, that I would get her one. It took her months of searching whenever we went to the store, but she found one. I bought it despite the fact that my stomach aches just thinking of that stuff in her hands.

It lays in the bottom of the Barbie box and it is rarely touched. Only when Little Sis and Baby Girl are playing together does the doll come out so they both can play together.

Baby Girl also asked for more clothes for her Bratz. Again, I told her if she could find clothes that she liked that didn't show the tummy, I would buy it. She's had this doll for 18 months and we don't have any new clothes for it. Can't find any.

I'm also with Alissa and her view on Spongebob. It's definitely not a show for kids! HATE it!

Posted by: zanie at April 18, 2008 11:29 AM

Amen brotha! I hate those stupid things, unfortunately my daughters got hooked for awhile and I had to find something to lure them away from the little mini hookers.

Posted by: Jeff A at April 18, 2008 11:35 AM

I'm so with you on the Bratz hatred. In our house, they're identified as dressing like 'hoochie mamas' and that's not allowed. My daughter can also identify 'hoochie mama' clothing in stores and knows to stay away from it.

We have friends that put "No Bratz items please" on the birthday invitations for their daughters. I'm tempted to do that too because Lilli has gotten two Bratz items, one outfit for her 6th birthday (from my husband's aunt!), and one doll for her 7th birthday. I believe the doll was purchased by the dad since the party was on his weekend with his daughter. Both items got donated to worthy causes, although I felt badly about pawning off 'hoochie mama' items on other kids.

Posted by: Kelley at April 18, 2008 12:50 PM

You're probably letting her go- I'd probably let my kid go as well. I have an 8 y.o. who wanted in on the Bratz phenomenon a few years ago. I copped out with a "maybe when you're 6" mostly because a 4 y.o. just isn't ready for the whole objectification- feminism speech. A four year old is a four year old. But! when she was six, she remembered the promise I made to her 4 y.o. self. By then, she was able to undertsand that "brat" is a name you call someone who's mean and has bad manners. She was, as I am, understandably miffed by the whole product line after I explained it to her that way. Thankfully, none of her friends seem to have Bratzzz so the issue is pretty much dead now. She does, however, have an ipod full of Hannah Montana music. We pick our poison around here.

Posted by: Kara at April 18, 2008 7:31 PM

Yep, the Bratz line is definitely trashy. And no, I wouldn't want my kid playing with that kind of toy and would probably draw the line there (not the type to draw lines, but probably would in this case). But I do remember something similar from my childhood--Garbage Pail Kids or something like that, they were Cabbage Path Kids who lived in trash cans and did rebellious things, and my mother deplored them (which meant that I really, really wanted them!) Funny thing was, I missed every single drug and alcohol reference and pretty much saw nothing but fake kids who lived in trash cans, which was freaking awesome only because it was novel, and once the novelty wore off, I forgot them. Such is childhood. So the Bratz dolls don't scare me nearly as much as Britney Spears and the 10,000 child-oriented stars who dress like hoochies and have their own clothing lines so their fans can, too. When my ten-year-old cousin could beat my 16-year-old trampy self in a tramp contest, there's something wrong.

Posted by: Angela at April 18, 2008 8:53 PM

Sorry, I'm a little slow jumping on this comment bandwagon!
Couple things...
First, I would definitely let Mia go to the party. I think the irreperable damage to her young psyche will be minimal. Personally I think the Bratz are more scary looking than anything!

Second, growing up I NEVER remember thinking as I was playing with my Barbies that "oh, gee, I so hope to have a body like this someday, if I don't I just won't fit in". Well, good thing cause I never got the bod and really, neither did most of my other "average", normal friends. If anything, all I remember thinking was "geez, these shirts are really hard to get on over those really big and unnaturally large boobs"! Ok, now, all grown up, yes, I'm a little jealous! lol!!

Last, I asked my 8 year old daughter what she thought of Bratz, whether she liked them, what she thought of their clothes. She's been exposed to them before, I don't buy them for her, someone else bought her a set of the Babies. She hardly plays with them. Anyway, she said she thought the Babies were cute but the others look funny..their heads are too big for their bodies. When I asked her if she liked their clothes she made this face of disgust and said "ewww, no, they wear shirts like belly tops!" Bottom line, when her and I are shopping I monitor what I buy and what she'll wear...her dolls can wear what they want, it doesn't translate into "big girl" clothes. I agree with commenters that said they're more concerned about the "real people" role models like Britney. Heaven help me if Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus ever starts going down the wrong path!

Posted by: Judy at April 20, 2008 10:49 PM

Oh Chris. As a mother 6-year-old little girl, I just have to tell you, that you are just on the tip of the Mortified at the Inappropriateness Iceberg. Just wait until you have to shop in the "big girl" sections at the store.

Oh, and I'd let her go. The party is about a 6-year-old little girl's birthday, not the poor judgment of her parents.

Posted by: Kellyology at April 29, 2008 4:41 PM

I walked past the little girls section in Penney's the other day. They had thong underwear for 7 year olds. I walked out and thanked the universe that I have boys.

Posted by: Peggi Crawford at May 1, 2008 1:53 AM