The Bratz are back in town

The Bratz Boyz help bring gender equality to the world of inappropriately sexualized dolls.

By Thomas Rogers

Published July 17, 2007 10:30PM (EDT)

On Aug. 3, in the most highly anticipated doll-inspired film event since this month's "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mystery," "Bratz: The Movie" will bring everybody's favorite sexually suggestive doll line to the big screen. Since its inception in 2001, the Bratz brand, which is, apparently, wildly popular among 6-year-old girls, has expanded to include a cosmetic line, board games, and even a line of padded bras. And it's been attacked frequently for its sexualized aesthetic.

But in the interest of gender parity, we'd like to draw your attention to the comparatively obscure, and just as freaky, Bratz Boyz line of male dolls. The "Boyz," like their female equivalent, have a "passion for fashion" -- as proven by their wide assortment of garish metrosexual ensembles. Each doll comes with a "4 piece Mix-N-Match Fashion Outfit," a hair accessory, shoes, a personal backpack and hairbrush. Additional themed outfits, like "Funk Out!" and "Tokyo A-Go-Go," are available at extra cost.

Like the female dolls, the Boyz -- each with a sassy nickname -- have a sexual savvy that far outstrips their target demographic. Cameron, aka "the Blaze" -- "because [he's] hot"-- has a rippling six-pack, bleached hair and, when he's dressed in his "sun-kissed summer" beach outfit, a twinkified aesthetic that wouldn't look out of place in a surf-themed mid-'90s gay porn movie.

Whereas Mattel's Ken dolls have always had a similar surfer-boy look, they still managed to be blocky and functional. The Boyz, however, have a well-defined musculature -- with bulging biceps and a V-tapered lower abdomen -- that suggests an intensive gym regimen and an obvious concern with personal appearance.

Given the fact that most Bratz Boyz consumers are still girls, these dolls probably don't pose a threat to young boys' body image. But if this is really what young girls are being taught to expect from guys, it doesn't bode well for the long-overdue disappearance of the "metrosexual" male. While women have been exposed to unhealthy toy-form depictions of themselves for decades, having the same standard applied to their male equivalents hardly counts as progress.

Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

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