When I was in sixth grade, Bratz dolls hit shelves with such provocative, caricatured excellence that they actually stalled my adolescence. You see, with their sardonic expression, hair (filled not simply with secrets, but also with deception), and short skirts, these “cool” dolls became a surrogate, able to act on mine and every other American girls’ middle school fantasies. Besides, one was named Yasmin, which is probably the closest I will ever come to having a semi-action figurine named after myself.
So, my best friend and I started collecting these dolls, which we would use to conquer our wildest inhibitions—which, to be honest, really only included going on dates and taking trips to the mall. The world at large, however, hasn’t always been kind to animated friends. In recent years, Bratz dolls have come under fire for propagating unrealistic body expectations, inspiring young girls to prematurely sexualize themselves, and putting too much focus on appearance. Their oversized features, including even the size of their massive feet, have also become a source of dissension: In her article “Being Corrupted By Bratz Dolls,” Catherine Bennett writes, ”...my own reservations have more to do with the Bratz dolls’ disturbing, detachable feet; a facility that soon results in the toys having to pursue their grueling timetable of getting dressed, accessorizing, grooming, disco-dancing and shopping on no more than a pair of plastic stumps.”
While these claims may hold validity in the eyes of worried parents and perhaps even some children, they did not and do not apply to my experience. Instead, the Bratz provided a vehicle through which I could prolong my childhood and maintain my innocence without feeling that I was missing out on the experiences my peers were engaging in.
So when it was announced that Bratz dolls would return to stores, I was somewhat excited. Unfortunately, they didn’t bring with them the edginess that I had expected. MGA Entertainment, the company who manufactures the dolls, was playing it safe (although it did not sacrifice the previous hem length) and while that’s okay, it feels like there needs to be some representation of 2015′s different subcultures imagined in Bratz proportions. Click through the gallery to see what we wish Bratz dolls would look like today.