The Bratz Effect: What Bratz Did For Culture And Fashion

Bratz Dolls


Even after two decades since their introduction, Bratz still have a significant impact on the world of fashion and beyond.


When Bratz dolls made their debut on store shelves in 2001, they were a breath of fresh air, embracing individuality far beyond clothing. Not only did they have killer style – signature chunky platform shoes, diamante tees and glam make-up – but they were also ethnically inclusive, with varying skin tones and hair textures. At the time Barbie, the dolls which had been dominating the toy industry for half a century, had yet to embrace such an inclusive vision and maintained a narrow representation.


This is one of the aspects that led to Bratz’s success. What attracted so many to the dolls was how they’re both extremely ethnically diverse yet ambiguous. Individuals from all ethnic backgrounds can see themselves in the dolls, being able to create their own stories and go on a journey of self-realisation through them.

Bratz Dolls PRIDE Couple


The OG Bratz girls Sasha, Yasmin, Jade, and Cloe were labelled as the “anti-Barbies” during their first release. With a fierce style and attitude, they encouraged uniqueness, individuality and a ‘passion for fashion’. Experimenting with fluffy fabrics, daring silhouettes and cropped tees, Bratz inspired young fashion enthusiasts to be bold and unapologetic with their style expression.


However, despite the positive message Bratz sought to spread, not everyone shared the same enthusiasm. The dolls sparked moral panic during the early 2000s, as some felt that they were overly sexualised for children’s toys.


It can be argued this perceived hypersexuality was heavily linked to racist and sexist ideas plaguing beauty standards. Though Barbie wasn’t as explicitly deemed as a sexual representation, both it and Bratz were subjected to levels of sexism, though at different levels. Due to the Eurocentric beauty standards that Barbie fit into, Barbie’s look and body were perceived as acceptable due to her whiteness while Bratz were viewed as unacceptable due to their racial difference.


Despite the misconception and conflict surrounding them, there is no doubt that the Bratz girls were ground-breaking and where the picture of representation that is so very needed. The resurgence of the dolls today is testament to that, with the now grown-up Gen Z and Millennials who used to play with dolls during their childhoods, still praising what Bratz stands for and drawing inspiration from what they represent.


Bratz have not only reclaimed their status as style icons but are becoming even stronger symbols of inclusivity, in a time where such voices are needed.

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