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These girls aren’t playing around.
JANE GOOD-DOLL

This woman is giving feminist makeunders to hyper-sexualized dolls

Kate Groetzinger
By Kate Groetzinger

Ideas fellow

Wendy Tsao has created a collection of feminist dolls all women will want to play with. Jane Goodall, J.K. Rowling and Malala Yousafzai stand among the ranks of Tsao’s “Mighty Dolls,” a collection of repurposed Bratz dolls meant to inspire young girls to greatness.

“The dolls we find in toy stores today are often licensed Disney characters or the heroines of Hollywood blockbuster movies that capitalize on the pull of fantasy, fictional characters to young consumers. But there are real-life people who are heroes too, with inspiring stories of courage, intelligence, strength and uniqueness,” Tsao wrote of her work in Bored Panda.

Dolls can often work against mothers’ efforts to raise their daughters with a healthy self-image. Barbie’s feet, for example, are molded at a 45 degree angle to fit her little pink stilettos. Bratz dolls’ eyes are each approximately the same width as their waists. They also come with tiny crop tops (to show off their infinitesimally small waists), lipstick, cell phones and a spoiled attitude befitting their name. (There is even a Bratz #SelfieSnaps doll available online.)

It turns out, people are actually more interested in dolls that look realistic. Australian native Sonia Singh made waves earlier this year by repurposing used Bratz dolls to look like real girls. She posted the transformations on her Tumblr page, Tree Change Dolls, where the dolls caught the eye of major media outlets including The Today Show and Cosmopolitan.

Inspired by Singh’s Tree Dolls, Tsao put her own spin on the trend by explicitly addressing the opportunity children have to learn from their toys.

“As a parent, I’d love for my child to play with a young J.K. Rowling or Malala and have conversations about them,” she wrote.

Many parents feel the same way. Singh’s Tree Change Dolls fetch anywhere from AU$300 (US $219) to AU$1,600 (US $1178) in auctions on eBay. Tsao says she plans to list her “Mighty Dolls” on eBay in “a few weeks.” Mothers and fathers, stay tuned.

Wendy Tsao/wendytsao.com
Jane Goodall, 1934- , British primatologist, UN Messenger of Peace
Wendy Tsao/wendytsao.com
Malala Yousafzai, 1997-, Pakistani activist, youngest Nobel Prize laureate
Wendy Tsao/wendytsao.com
Roberta Bondar, 1945- , first female Canadian astronaut
Wendy Tsao/wendytsao.com
Waris Dirie, 1965-, model, author, social activist
Wendy Tsao/wendytsao.com
J.K. Rowling, 1965-, British novelist best known for Harry Potter series
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