White House Girlz

Sasha and Malia make their debut as creepy teenage dolls.

By Amy Benfer

Published January 22, 2009 2:08PM (EST)

It’s pretty much impossible to fault anyone for getting all melty at the sight of our new first daughters. Even if they weren’t, by all indications, charming, smart, beautifully raised children (which they most certainly are), there’s some sort of reflexive human impulse to get especially mushy at the sight of wee innocents at the center of history. (And yes, each time the camera panned to those little girls in their colorful coats, say, snapping candid pictures of their father’s inauguration, I did point and shriek a bit.)

But already our collective fascination with the new first family has given rise to some odd forms of flattery. Actress Anne Hathaway told People magazine she would like to be “First babysitter.” Corbin Bleu, star of “High School Musical,” and "American Idol" runner-up David Archuleta have offered their services as White House entertainers -- an honor that all three Jonas brothers, who showed up at the end of the girls inaugural night scavenger hunt, have already achieved. Usher, according to People, is already talking about marrying them off to his stepsons, Ryan, 9, and Kyle, 7, the children of Tameka Foster (who, according to my vague recollections of Hollywood gossip, has had a bumpy few years). “Based off of what I know about Michelle and what I've seen from Barack, Sasha and Malia are going to grow up to be two incredible, beautiful young ladies," says Usher, adding with a grin, "that my sons will marry!" 

Setting aside their unlikely future as the child-brides-in-law of an R&B star, one of the more dubious honors bestowed thus far may be the reported debut of "Marvelous Malia" and "Sweet Sasha" from Ty Girlz dolls. (Ty Inc.  is the company that brought us Beanie Babies.) This line shares the notorious Bratz dolls infatuation with the letter “z,” visible lip liner and skimpy clothing of questionable taste. According to the Web site: “Sweet Sasha is one of the nicest girlz you could hope to meet! With her pigtail braids and clever combo of shirtdress and leggings, it’s easy to see that this sweetheart has style!” (Though her hot pink rhinestone earrings and yellow, lime and pink mini-dress isn’t nearly as stylish-- and classy -- as that orange and pink coat and scarf combo.) Her sister, “Marvelous Malia,” is “ready to look stunning in spring” wearing “a long-sleeved shirt with butterfly detail and crapri” -- yep, that’s what it really says -- pants. Oh my. Just wait till spring when when we all break out the White House-inspired “crapris”!

Unfortunately, as a post at Packaging Girlhood points out, the dolls are part of the teen line and thus come complete with breasts, which seems a little odd in dolls named after two little girls who are now 7 and 10 years old. The poster at that site asks: "Couldn’t they have just portrayed them as they are now, perhaps as two little girls with a dog and a leash?"

Poking around the site a bit lends itself to some pretty surreal fantasy play. The collection also includes Bubbly Britney (“In her favorite pink hoodie and jeans, this fresh-faced charmer is here to have fun with all her BFFs!” -- to which we might add at the bar!) and “Lucky Lindsay” (whose “sun-streaked” hair looks a bit more like a bad case of Sun-In to me). I figured I’d found another back-handed nod to positive female role models in “Happy Hillary” (yeah, it could be a nod to Duff as well, but she has a different spelling). But if so, the compliment is even more back-handed than creating a tarted-up cloth likeness. According to the copy: “No one likes hanging around the house more than Happy Hillary, dressed in her fleece plaid pajama pants and white furry slippers!” Something tells me a certain other Hillary is going to see very little of those fleece pajama pants over the next four years.


Amy Benfer

Amy Benfer is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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