The new Bratz collaboration with Kylie Jenner has upset the doll line's devoted fans.
On Aug. 1, MGA Entertainment, the company that manufactures Bratz, released its first-ever celebrity Bratz doll collection featuring six different versions of the doll meant to look like Kylie Jenner.
The mini figurines sport looks that Jenner has worn over the years, including her 2019 and 2022 Met Gala outfits. Mattel’s Barbie takes a similar approach, turning celebrities into dolls sporting miniature versions of their most famous outfits.
In a press release, Bratz creative director Jasmin Larian revealed the reasoning behind the choice.
“Kylie truly embodies everything Bratz has stood for since its inception 22 years ago — from being disruptive and rebellious to energetic and expressive,” Larian said. “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.”
But some longtime Bratz fans see this move as more of a snub to the doll’s legacy than an homage to a celebrity. Jenner and her sisters, who are white women, have been criticized for appropriating Black beauty standards, whereas the dolls celebrated them.
Introduced in 2001 as an alternative to Barbie, the dolls were came with cell phones ... and an edge. With their pouty lips, dramatic makeup and small waists, they also model the Instagram fashion that Jenner and her sisters are famous for.
Kendall Jenner once said her sister Kylie Jenner looked like a Bratz doll — and for these fans, that’s the problem. Bratz fans who saw themselves reflected in Bratz dolls more than they did in the Barbie alternative perceive this move as further proof of the Kardashian-Jenners' appropriation of Black culture.
“Giving Kylie (a white woman who modeled 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.
“It’s like you don’t even know us anymore,” one commenter wrote on the brand’s Instagram announcement.
Lysette Arnold, a 24-year-old policy and operations coordinator in Columbus, Ohio, and Chandler Foreman, a 26-year-old morning news anchor at ABC 2, tell TODAY.com they were drawn to Bratz dolls over Barbies. As Black women, they saw themselves more in the newer dolls.
“When Bratz came out, I could just tell that they were different — their outfits were so much cuter than Barbie’s to me, and their lips looked just like mine. Yasmin had the mole on her face, like me,” Arnold says.
Bratz’s diverse appeal was intentional: The first line had four friends of different ethnic backgrounds.
“They were fashionable and they were trendy — but they were also diverse,” Foreman says. “You have a relatively white doll (Chloe), you have a relatively Hispanic doll (Yasmin), a black girl (Sasha), and they were all friends.”
That’s why it was “a slap in the face” to Arnold when she saw the celebrity Bratz capsule that MGA Entertainment launched with Jenner.
“Culturally, it was the wrong call,” she says.
Foreman points out that the dolls’ skin is a darker shade than Jenner’s own in real life.
“I was like, ‘They can’t be serious.’ And all of my girlfriends that I grew up with were texting me and they were like, ‘God, did you see this? This is crazy,’” she says.
Kim Kardashian, Jenner's sister, has been criticized for darkening her skin tone in makeup routines.
People on social media said that there are successful Black women with a strong following that could have sold as many dolls as Jenner. One person shared a photo of “Black-ish” actor Marsai Martin in a pink outfit, and said, “This is a Bratz doll honey.” Instagram commenters suggested Rihanna and Teyana Taylor.
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,” Foreman says. “Or if we did want to choose someone more famous, I’m even going to go there and say, Ciara or Kelly Rowland.” Arnold suggests Zendaya (who previously got the Barbie treatment).
Foreman says Bratz’s move “significantly missed the mark because it catered more to what was most popular instead of going back to the Bratz dolls’ origin.”
Arnold adds, “They didn’t take into consideration their core audience and the people who made Bratz dolls the popular toy that it is now.”
Jenner, on her end, said Bratz dolls were a part of her childhood, too. “I have been a fan of Bratz since childhood and I’ve always wanted my own Bratz doll,” said Jenner said in a statement. “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!”