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The Grinch who stole innocence

By Dannielle Miller and Melinda Tankard Reist - posted Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Did our little darlings really need to receive hyper sexualised dolls for Christmas? Despite a refreshing increase in the sales of more educational toys such as board games and keyboards, Bratz dolls were still in the top 10 best seller list this year. Thanks to Santa there are now plenty of “Ho Ho Ho’s” sitting in playrooms just waiting to show our young girls that hot, thin, sexy - and completely useless - is way cool.

Look at the line up that toy shops promoted in the lead up to this Christmas.

Even good old Barbie who has previously been packaged as a teacher, astronaut and even as a US presidential candidate, is now doused in glitter, micro mini skirts and been given the obligatory party girl accessories.


“Bling, Bling, Bikini Barbie” comes with bikini, stilettos, thick make up, optional “Bling, Bling Spa” and a Pina Colada accessory.

“Sweet Love” Bratz wears fishnet stockings with the words “Baby Girl” on her midriff top. Another Bratz has detachable “Attitude Arms” which can be clipped on to her hips. What fun!

And oh the lucky little girl who received “Talking Bratz” under the Christmas tree. She is a ghetto girl - all bling, furs, cleavage and pout. She asks girls if they have their own bedroom in a voice which sounds like it comes straight from a 0055 phone sex ad.

“Head Bobs and Spins Bratz” looks like something you’d find on a pimp’s dashboard. Her role in life is to lie on a bed in her undies under a spinning disco light as her head wobbles.

While the boy dolls stuffed into stockings look active, powerful and in control the girl dolls focus only on their stockings.

Maybe the mini baby Bratz mechanic doll is different? Maybe she’s meant to empower girls by suggesting there’s more to life than preening yourself? But why is she only wearing lingerie?


What type of mechanic works like that?

The new dolls on the block, the ultra expensive “Lollipop Girls”, may not look like they’re owned by pimps but they are hardly offering empowered role models either. Described as “long, lean, young, sassy and impossibly beautiful”, their marketing material boasts they combine “youthful innocence with grown-up confidence and attitude.” At their recent Australian launch, little girls were treated to mock cocktails.

Why must we combine childhood with the adult world of fishnets, booze and “grown up confidence and attitude”? This is an incredibly dangerous combination.

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First published in the Sydney Morning Herald on January 4, 2008.

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About the Authors

Dannielle Miller is the CEO of Enlighten Education, a national company that works with teenage girls in high schools on developing positive body image and self esteem. Enlighten is the 2007 Australian Small Business Champion for Children's Services. She is also the author of an award winning blog for parents and educators on girls’ issues: Dannielle is author of The Butterfly Effect pblished by Random House (2009). Dannielle's website is

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, speaker, commentator and advocate with a special interest in issues affecting women and girls. Melinda is author of Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief after Abortion (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2000), Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (Spinifex Press, 2006) and editor of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls (Spinifex Press, 2009). Melinda is a founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation ( Melinda blogs at

Other articles by these Authors

All articles by Dannielle Miller
All articles by Melinda Tankard Reist

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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