Earlier this year, Bratz, the flashy, glammed-up dolls with attitude, got a new look thanks to Tasmanian artist Sonia Tingh. Tingh stripped the face paint and dressed them in less revealing clothing in what amounted to a “make-under.”
Now, another artist, Wendy Tsao, inspired by Tingh, is taking the feminist message a step further with “Mighty Dolls.”
For the "Mighty Dolls" project, Tsao repurposes former Bratz to resemble famous women role models. So far her recreations include Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar, scientist Jane Goodall, author and activist Waris Dirie, artist Frida Kahlo, author J.K. Rowling and activist Malala Yousafzai. A quote from each icon accompanies its likeness on the artist's website.
“I wonder if a child who plays with a doll of someone who is a real person who did some amazing things when they grow up might … appreciate more the real potential that lies within all of us,” Tsao wrote to MTV News in an email.
“You know how we ’outgrow’ our toys — Bratz doll[s] or Disney princess doll[s]? It’s hard to imagine feeling the same way about Malala. Can you outgrow Malala?” she continued.
Tsao's Malala Yousafzai doll, inspired by the young Pakistani female-education activist who at 15 survived an assassination attempt and who is also the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner, took off on social media Thursday. Over 8,000 people liked and 650 shared a single Facebook post about the dolls from the Malala Fund page.
Bratz debuted in 2001, and by 2006 dominated about 40% of the fashion doll market, according to The New Yorker. The line has been roundly criticized for sexualizing girls, creating dolls with unrealistic body proportions à la Barbie, and perpetuating a value system that places beauty above substance and accomplishment. The brand says its focus is "friendship" and a "passion for fashion."
According to her website, Tsao, who also takes commissions, will be auctioning the newly fashioned dolls on eBay.