Bootylicious backlash!



    Sexy diva dolls for six-year-olds harmful to self-image and healthy
    development

    TORONTO, Nov. 14 /CNW/ - We've all seen girls as young as five years old
with the bottom of their shorts emblazoned with "Bootylicious", or
10-year-olds giving attitude parading around in cut-off tank tops with sayings
like "JAIL BAIT", micro-mini denim skirts, black fishnet stockings, and
makeup. Our culture and society have now reached the point where kiddy thongs
are but a low-rise glance away and girls as young as six are adapting the
veneer of womanhood.
    Mothers are the primary shoppers for young girls' clothes and these
fashions confirm the sordid state of affairs in the girls' clothing department
of some stores. Some mothers may think this is good for a young girl's
self-esteem and self-expression, but others shake their heads in disbelief and
know that something went wrong somewhere. Should we really be dressing our
7-year-olds in racy teen and adult garb?

    
     Like much of today's fashion, many dolls marketed to girls between
         six and 12 years old have fallen big, head over high heels,
               from sweet and innocent into 'hot' and raunchy.
    

    For example, Bratz(TM) dolls are dressed in sexualized clothing such as
miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. Although these dolls may
convey no more sexualization of girls or women than we observe in MuchMusic
and MTV videos, magazine covers, movies, the catwalk, billboards, and song
lyrics, a recent Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force
on the Sexualization of Girls states: "It is worrisome when dolls designed
specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult
sexuality.... The proliferation of these types of images is harming girls'
self-image and healthy development."
    Although powerful marketing propels annual global sales of Bratz products
over the US$2 billion mark, the tide is turning. Synovate, one of the world's
top global market research firms, conducted a 2007 survey of 1,010 mothers
with 4- to 9-year-old daughters. Eighty-five per cent of the mothers said they
were "tired of the sexpot dolls and characters" in stores.
    When Hasbro announced plans to market a new line of Pussycat Dolls
replicas, Brooklyn mother Lisa Flythe was appalled to discover that it would
be aimed at 6- to 8-year-old girls. Formerly burlesque performers, the
scantily clad Pussycat Dolls are a real-life pop music group famous for their
sexualized lyrics and dance routines. Flythe sent strong letters of opposition
to Hasbro's CEO and the director of marketing. She also contacted the Campaign
for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), a national coalition of health-care
professionals, educators, advocacy groups and parents. Together with coalition
member Dads and Daughters, the CCFC launched a letter-writing campaign that
generated 2,000 letters within 48 hours. Days later, Hasbro canceled
production plans for the dolls.
    Parents can teach girls to value themselves for who they are and what
they can accomplish, rather than how they look, by giving them dolls that
convey the same values they want to instill in their daughters.
    The Maplelea Girls(TM) collection of premium dolls promotes the
simplicities of girlhood and offers gentle learning and life lessons. Their
names are Taryn, Brianne, Alexi, and Jenna. Distinctively Canadian, these
traditional dolls are contemporary role models and celebrate Canada's spirit
and identity. A child will usually select her Maplelea(TM) doll based on
similar personality and interests. For instance, Brianne lives on a farm in
Manitoba, loves anything pink, has a Welsh pony, and might be a farmer or
ballerina when she grows up. In contrast, Jenna who lives near the Atlantic
Ocean in Nova Scotia, loves soccer, the fiddle, sailing, and reading stories
to senior citizens at a local retirement home. Alexi, with her pet cat, is a
downtown Toronto girl who loves to invent things and is computer savvy. Taryn
lives near Banff and loves wildflowers, butterflies, hiking and painting. The
dolls represent the potential for any girl to be bright, caring, energetic,
and proud of Canada. The Maplelea Girls are Canadian dolls for Canadian
girls(TM).
    Eighteen inches (46 cm) tall with long thick hair, the Maplelea Girls
stand on their own two feet and provide excellent play and life values, are
easy and fun to befriend, and inspire girls to be the best they can be. Each
doll comes with a 64-page story journal that reveals her biography, family
history, and thoughts. Each Maplelea doll's unique fictional life story
encourages the real girl to express her feelings, write about her own life in
her doll's journal, and to celebrate who she is at this time of her life.
Every new doll outfit comes with additional journal pages and fascinating
Canadian facts. Maplelea dolls give girls wholesome, imaginative, and
educational entertainment.
    Owner Kathryn Gallagher Morton of Newmarket, Ontario says that childhood
is short enough, and girls should be encouraged to savour every moment of it.
"They would grow in healthy, normal ways if their road to adolescence was
lined with the personal interests, hobbies, skills, and real-life concerns of
a child."
    Chris Maher lives in Kitchener, Ontario with her two daughters, ages
seven and 10. "They each have a Maplelea doll. They pretend that the dolls are
friends and play games like school with them. My girls can really relate to
the dolls because they are similar in age to the dolls' characters. I also
like the fact that the Maplelea girls have Canadian stories and journals to
teach my girls about different parts of Canada."
    She says her daughters love the dolls' clothes, real clothes that her
children would wear - not high heels and wedding dresses. "They also love
styling their dolls' hair in braids and ribbons or just dressing them," she
says, adding that her girls never liked Barbies when they were young. "They
couldn't relate to playing with a doll that looked like a grown-up with
grown-up clothes, cars, and concerns. I don't think a pre-teen should be that
concerned with makeup and the latest fashions."

    Shop and Compare: Positive or Provocative?

    Before buying a doll for a young girl, parents or grandparents may want
to shop and compare. Would she prefer a doll dressed like a hooker, or a doll
that resembles a real 8- to 12-year-old dressed in trendy age-appropriate
clothes? Should she have a doll that promotes a sexy, diva lifestyle amid a
frenzy of vacuous shoe shopping "experiences", make-up, makeovers, glitter,
celebrity worship, and partying? Or should she play with a doll that shows how
true self-esteem comes from inner beauty, empathy, family ties, friendship,
healthy activities, positive choices, developing talents, strong character,
and community involvement?
    "Maplelea Girls are age-appropriate products that honour childhood. The
dolls are all different but they're all positive and they all come with a
personality, a history, a family, likes and dislikes," says Dawne Edwards of
Langley, B.C, and mother of an 8-year-old who has the Taryn doll. "Maplelea
dolls teach values of individuality, of taking pride in yourself, of finding
your own identity, and of valuing everyone for who they are."
    "I think all young girls are impressionable. The Maplelea dolls present
good role-modelling behaviours, and the dolls' personality profiles encourage
activity and creativity. Like my daughter Jessie, Taryn's favourite colour is
green and she's enthusiastic about the environment. The doll allows my
10-year-old to enjoy being 10," says Lorrie Reynolds of Bond Head, Ontario,
pointing out that last year Jessie saw Taryn in the Maplelea catalogue and put
her on her Christmas wish list. "The quality of the Maplelea doll is
outstanding and the workmanship is very detailed. Jessie also likes the
intricate details on the outfits: 'It's like they take real people clothes and
just shrink them.' Taryn will stay in our home and most likely be passed down
from Jessie to her daughter."

    Visit www.maplelea.com. Then visit www.bratz.com and www.be-bratz.com.

    Maplelea Girls(TM) are created by Avonlea Traditions Inc, an
award-winning Canadian company that has been in business since 1988. Maplelea,
Maplelea Girls, Canadian Girl, Canadian dolls for Canadian girls, Real Girls
doing Real Things that Matter!, Taryn, Taryn Brady, Brianne, Brianne Kovac,
Alexi, Alexi Nelle, Jenna, Jenna McAllister, and all related indicia are
trademarks of Avonlea Traditions Inc.

    TM & (C) MGA Entertainment, Inc. BRATZ and all related logos, characters,
names, and distinctive likenesses are the exclusive property of MGA
Entertainment, Inc.





For further information:

For further information: Kathryn Gallagher Morton, President, Avonlea
Traditions Inc., (905) 853-1777, kathryn@avonlea-traditions.com,
www.maplelea.com

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AVONLEA TRADITIONS INC.

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