Move over, Barbara Millicent Roberts, because it seems the world of pop culture is big “kenough” for another viral doll moment. After weeks in the spotlight, Barbie’s publicity is getting some competition from her bad-girl rivals at Bratz, which has announced a new partnership with Kylie Jenner. However, as expected, it caused mixed reactions among people.
Toy brand Bratz announced last week that it was launching its first celebrity collab with the youngest Jenner sister, featuring six miniature collectible dolls modelled after Kylie's real-life looks. Among them are two of her Met Gala gowns, two Mugler moments, a latex mini dress, accessories including a miniaturized version of Jenner's greyhound Norman and a mini red carpet rope. The Mini Bratz x Kylie Collectibles are now available globally online and in stores at select Walmart, Amazon, Target, Macy’s, Walgreens and on Bratz.com.
"I have been a fan of Bratz since childhood, and I've always wanted my own Bratz doll. I have loved every step of the process this past year in creating these dolls alongside the Bratz team. I'm so excited they are here!" Jenner said in a press release announcing the collaboration. And while, at first, the collab might seem innocent enough, some have been quick to question whether Kylie was the most appropriate choice to receive the Bratz treatment.
The criticisms in question are claims of Blackfishing after fans questioned the skin color of the dolls, pointing out that they are noticeably darker than Kylie's own. This comes after the official press release stated that the figurines "reimagine the pop culture queen herself as a Bratz doll"— clearly suggesting that the dolls were designed to look just like Kylie.
For those unaware of the harmful term, Blackfishing describes non-Black people who purposefully attempt to appear as Black or mixed race. In some cases, it also refers to people profiting from the adopted guise. It's something that the Kardashian-Jenner family have been accused of before - Kylie (who is white) in particular - after she shared a video to Instagram back in 2021 in which her skin tone seemed darker than her natural color.
"Giving Kylie (a white woman who modelled her face/body around Black women) her own Bratz doll (which is an arguably more Urban/Black presenting doll) before an ACTUAL Black woman is … weird," one person tweeted. Others have noted that they grew up closely associating Bratz with women of color, making Jenner's selection for the brand's first celebrity collaboration unusual. "I've honestly never met a woman of color who didn't identify more with Bratz when they were growing up!!" one user tweeted. "When I think of Bratz, I think of a Black girl," another added. Others have also noted that the dolls look significantly darker than Jenner's own natural complexion, despite being modelled on her likeness.
In a conversation with USA Today, Lysette Arnold, 24, shared her insightful perspective on the distinctive allure of Bratz dolls, recounting her connection to their uniqueness. She noted, "When Bratz came onto the scene, what caught my eye was their outfits— they had a certain charm that surpassed Barbie's, and their lip shapes were reminiscent of my own. I found Yasmin's mole relatable to mine," encapsulating a sense of identification that resonates with many. Chandler Foreman, 26, further echoed this sentiment by highlighting the dolls' embodiment of fashion trends and diversity. "They were fashionable and on-trend but also truly represented diversity," she explained, underlining the dolls' inclusive essence.
Source: Daily Mail
Foreman elaborated on this inclusivity, highlighting the significance of Bratz's multicultural lineup, saying, "The inclusion of dolls like Chloe (relatively white), Yasmin (relatively Hispanic), and Sasha (a black character) portrayed a group of friends from diverse backgrounds." Arnold and Foreman jointly emphasized how Bratz creators struck a balance between style and cultural representation. However, according to Arnold, this collaboration "Didn't consider their core audience and the people who made Bratz dolls the popular toy it is now."
Foreman and Arnold have ideas, too. “The first person I think about when I think of a Bratz doll is Ryan Destiny or Justine Skye. Or if we did want to choose someone more famous, I’m even going to go there and say Ciara or Kelly Rowland, ” Foreman says. Arnold suggests Zendaya. Both agree that Bratz creators significantly missed the mark because it catered more to what was most popular instead of returning to the Bratz dolls’ origin.
Although all this, in a press release, Bratz Creative Director, Jasmin Larian shared the reason for selecting Kylie for the collaboration: "Kylie truly embodies everything Bratz has stood for since its inception 22 years ago — from being disruptive and rebellious to energetic and expressive. Not only will this collaboration expand to Kylie's millions of fans, but it will also reach the audiences that grew up with Bratz and are excited to relive the Y2K Bratz lifestyle today. We couldn't be prouder to welcome Kylie into the Bratz family."
Furthermore, this strategic maneuver by Bratz constitutes a bold gauntlet thrown down against Barbie's enduring dominion within the doll market. Bratz's burgeoning popularity and alignment with a global luminary like Kylie Jenner pose a formidable challenge to Barbie's supremacy. While Barbie has maintained her revered status as the quintessential fashion doll for generations, the emergence of the Bratz x Kylie Jenner Collection heralds a transformative era in the industry, captivating both devoted collectors and fervent doll lovers.
Nonetheless, a pertinent query arises: Is this juncture the optimal timing for the launch of this collaboration, or does it pale in comparison as Barbie steadfastly retains her unassailable number one status? What remains unmistakable is the palpable divergence between Bratz and Barbie, catering to distinct clientele, albeit they remain spirited adversaries in this arena.
This collaboration serves as a multifaceted prism that refracts discussions concerning cultural representation, diversity, and market prowess within the realm of dolls, casting Bratz and Barbie into a comparative spotlight. The metamorphosis of Jenner into a Bratz doll transcends mere aesthetic amalgamation; it acts as a catalyst for fostering substantive conversations, underscoring the imperative for nuanced dialogues about the shifting contours of iconic doll culture in our contemporary and diverse global landscape.