Because Barbies and Bratz dolls are so popular with young children, the products regularly get flak for revealing, sexualized clothing. [The Black Canary Barbie, for example, provoked outcry, which we covered in a previous post.] Old Hearts Club Dolls consciously set themselves in opposition to Barbies and Bratz. The About page on OHC’s Web site states:
Unlike any other doll, Only Hearts Club™ dolls combine detailed and realistic facial features with soft, fully-poseable bodies. The dolls bodies and clothing actually look like those of the young girls they are intended to be. The dolls’ fashions are hip, based upon what real girls are wearing, and are also age-appropriate.
“Realistic facial features” are in contrast those of Barbies and Bratz, who feature stylized, large eyes and lips. The “soft” bodies of OHC dolls are explicitly different from the hard plastic used to make fashion dolls. Finally, “age-appropriate” is code for “non-sexualized, non-revealing.”
While other alternatives to the popular fashion dolls have tried and failed to get off the ground [see August 15, 1991 New York Times article about the Happy To Be Me doll], OHC dolls have been going strong since 2004. For example, I have seen them in independent toy stores around the Boston area; toy stores have even sold out of them, much to my frustration when I want to purchase one. You could use the story of these dolls in a conversation about portrayals of femininity in toys or current debates about “modesty” in fashion.