“The girls with a passion for fashion,” is the very motto that shaped the Bratz impact on millennial and Gen Z culture. From video games to dolls, the Bratz truly became a force in my childhood. As a child, I remember watching the Bratz TV show on Saturday mornings. My favorite doll constantly changed between Yasmine and Sasha. Those were the two dolls that I could truly see myself in. Sasha was this African-American inspired doll with a mocha-colored complexion that had beautiful kinky hair and sometimes straight.
However, not everyone could see themselves in these fashion dolls. I remember parents complaining about these dolls dressing “too grown.” These dolls had seasonal outfits. The winter outfits that they are famous for consisted of big jean jackets with faux fur and their famous knee-high boots. However, summer clothing is what most parents complained about. The Bratz dolls would have low rise jeans, cropped shirts, high heels, miniskirts and hooped earrings. These looks were sometimes paired with bucket hats.
These dolls were also known most noticeably for their full lips and wide eyes. As an adult, it always made me wonder if the Bratz dolls were too grown or just too ethnic? It is no secret that these dolls were inspired by people of color. With the exception of Chloe, With the exception of Chloe, all of the dolls were POC: the Yasmine doll was Latino, Sasha was an African American and Jade was Asian American. Jade was Asian American . As a little girl, the Bratz helped normalize ethnic features that were once looked down upon. Watching old clips of the Bratz commercials brings upon a certain nostalgia. The clothing reminds me of early 2000s R&B African-American and Latino female singers. Singers like Destiny’s Child, Tweet, Monica, J-LO and Brandy come to mind. The leather boots, the blue jean skirts, the hats, lip gloss and hoops all bring me back to being a little girl watching my mom getting dressed.
I came to the realization that the Bratz challenged the European beauty standards and that is why their impact will forever reign. These The dolls were also always portrayed as career driven in comparison to America’s favorite doll, Barbie. Even the fact that the Bratz brand was based on female empowerment and friendship while Barbie was loosely tied to Ken gives them bragging rights. On their own, they present a look on society and what is now deemed popular in pop culture.
In today’s culture, women empowerment is at an all-time high. We have the power to dress how we want, decide what is beautiful (whether that is wearing a full face of makeup or being bare face), if we want love or the freedom to have a career in the field that we so choose. The outfits that were once deemed too inappropriate is now considered our summer clothing.
Bratz are still so popular that clothing sites such as Dolls Kill have a special section of their website that sells Bratz inspired clothing. Even on TikTok, girls are doing Bratz inspired looks. The mere fact that Bratz was inspired by women of color makes this brand that much more significant. People of color have influenced so many trends, music and now aesthetics.
As a woman of color, I see a lot of brands and influencers whitewash my culture. The world tends to forget that the resurgence of these trends already has an origin story. We give people like the Kardashians the credit of bringing full lips and overlined lips into style when women of color popularized this in the 90s. However, the fact that it took a white woman to popularize black features shows a look into society. Even the Bratz doll had to have a non-POC inspired doll, to help with the popularization of the high fashion dolls.
The Bratz dolls are a great marker to understand the society that we live in whether that is in a negative or positive light. Truly the resurgence of the Bratz dolls allowed me to see just how iconic and impactful that these dolls were.