Courtesy of The Black Snob, I learned that Ty’s controversial Sasha and Malia dolls are being pulled from the shelves. If you visit Ty’s website, the dolls show up at the bottom of the page with a big red stamp next to them that says “retired.”
About time if you ask me.
As someone with more than a passing interest in dolls and playthings for children of color, I was seriously disheartened by the cynical and exploitative move by Ty Inc. from the get-go.
In case you missed this story, here’s what went down. After releasing the dolls and upsetting the First Lady, Ty tried to deny the dolls were named after the Obama girls in the first place. This despite obvious in-store displays indicating otherwise. In response to the controversy, Ty put the dolls into retirement — no wait, the just went ahead and renamed them. Now instead of â€œMarvelous Maliaâ€ and â€œSweet Sasha,â€ the Ty Girlz collection will include â€œMarvelous Mariahâ€ and â€œSweet Sydney.â€
Cynics could argue that Ty got what they wanted out of this deal (headlines, attention, sales) and collectors are spending beaucoup bucks on these newly pulled-from-the-shelves collectors items. Game, set, Ty.
As the President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama have elected for a life as public figures, and that comes with commemorative coins, teeshirts, calendars, and collectibles. But their children haven’t. I love that two little black girls are living in the White House, but when cameras follow them to school or news anchors reveal what they have for lunch every day or what toys they’re playing with, it irks me. They’re America’s first family, but we need to fall back and let these kids be kids. I sincerely hope that they get that opportunity.
I liked the anecdote that Emily Bazelon of Slate revealed at the end of her Obama doll article:
“I heard a reassuring story, third-hand, along these lines: Soon after Sasha showed up for school, the mother of one of the boys in her class couldn’t resist pumping her son for details. What was the president’s daughter like? His answer went something like, “I don’t know. She’s a girl. I don’t talk to girls.” That’s the best news I’ve heard yet about Barack Obama’s girls since they moved to the White House.”
That’s how it should be at school. These kids shouldn’t be regarded as little celebs, they need to live life and make friends just like regular kids do.
Like the rest of the world, I’m absolutely fascinated by Sasha and Malia and their dog and their clothes and their seemingly magical lives. I can’t wait to watch them grow up before my eyes. But they aren’t our little dolls. They’re not little commodities. They’re real children. Lord have mercy, I just imagine how I might have acted at that age, in their position. It wouldn’t have been pretty, or doll-like, or befitting of my father’s new job.
Real kids get cranky and tired, they might act bratty or misbehave, and they need the caring attention and guiding hands of their parents, not the burning eyes of a curious nation, or the grasping hands of companies seeking to exploit their image.
But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?