As if the world doesn’t have enough problems as it is, the newest wrinkle in the fairy tale dream that is the Obama family is the hullaballoo over the Ty Company’s decision to release two new, soft bean-bag dolls. Word on the street has it that the First Lady is violently opposed to “Marvelous Malia” and “Sweet Sasha” making their debut as the newest Ty Girlz. Michelle Obama feels the sale of such items is an invasion of the girls' privacy. The dolls in question have large dark eyes, soft brown skin and their long dark hair is tied back. For those out of the loop, the Ty Girlz brand is a blatant take off on the infamous Bratz dolls.
You might remember the Ty Company as the driving force behind the Beanie Baby phenomenon. I happened to have been a mom of small children at the time the craze was at its frenzied worst, and while I didn’t use fisticuffs that time Nordstrom opened their latest shipment right on the retail floor and all hell broke loose (with TV news cameras rolling), I did make weekly treks into the Canadian wilderness (Windsor) and procured and smuggled Beanie Babies back into the States in the deep recesses of my super-huge Ford conversion van. (Those were the days, my friend…)
Yes, I am ashamed to say this now, but I know my way around small, bean bag toys. I once frequented Beanie Baby chat rooms, and that is, in fact, how I met the oldest friends I have on the Internet. One entire wall of my basement is lined with storage containers stuffed with Beanie Babies. Of course, like my foray into the stock market, my purchases are all worthless now, what with the Beanie Baby market having taken a tumble around seven years ago. Well, they are worthless until I am presented with grandchildren; only then will they come in handy.
For those who are unaware, the Ty Company has long practiced the snagging of nomenclature of pop icons for the names of their creations. There was Garcia, the peace loving bear in tie-dyed splendor. A person could almost score a contact high just by looking at him. He was highly desirable; I think I paid $85 for that one. Supposedly his quick retirement was due to a lawsuit by the heirs of Jerry Garcia, but who knows. There was Princess, the purple bear, obviously taken from Princess Diana after her untimely passing. They shared the same birth date, July 1. Ty donated the proceeds from the sale of the limited edition bear to the Princess Diana Memorial Fund. I had to travel to Canada to get that one.
There’s Blue Beanie Shoes, a bear with an uncanny resemblance to the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. There are bears named after movie characters (Frankenteddy, from the Frankenstein movies), beanies named after book characters (Catsby – Gatsby), beanies named after candy (Chocolate Kiss), beanies named after toys (Frisbee) and famous rodents (Punxsutawn-e Phil). There are beanies named after political persuasions (Lefty the Donkey and Righty the Elephant) and beanies named after cities, states and countries. There are sadly no beanies named after me or anyone I know.
Other Ty Girlz dolls are named Lindsay, Britney, Paris, Jenna and Hillary. So far, there is no word on any of those celebrities complaining of the hijacking of their first names.
The First Lady must think she has first dibs on the names Sasha and Malia. I hate to be the one to break it to her, but I happen to have heard of others with those exact same names. She probably won’t believe it. The one Sasha I know is even male!
If the First Lady succeeds in halting the production of the dolls, she will be setting a new precedent. The history behind your fellow Americans and the rest of the world following presidential offspring and turning them into playthings is nothing new. Recent history brought us the Amy Carter paper doll kit, now fetching a handsome price on eBay and elsewhere. Looking back, even Tricia Nixon was paperdolled. The prestigious Madame Alexander doll company also offered a porcelain Caroline Kennedy doll. That one appears to be a baby doll goldmine, currently selling for $10,000. The Baby Ruth the candy bar was said to have been named after Grover Cleveland's daughter, although there's some who swear the candy was named after baseball slugger, Babe Ruth.
Even if this is a rip-off of the President's daughters, the manufacture and sale is benign at worst. Little girls are consumers in smaller clothes. In my distant past as a little girl, and with one in the household, I know that they long to have something or someone to relate to. When they see anyone they can turn into a hero, a role model, they are quick to respond. It's better that they are portrayed as nicely dressed little dolls rather than Paris or Britney.
Through my discerning eye, the Ty dolls are admittedly not obnoxious, and neither one resembles the First Girls in any way except by name. However, since I’ve been on the Beanie Baby 12-step program since 2003 and will not be knocked off the wagon no matter what Ty comes out with, I will definitely pass on the purchase of these stuffed dolls.
Personally, if I were Mrs. Obama, I’d be more concerned about state of our economy, health care and education issues than I would be the Sasha and Malia Ty scandal. I'd definitely be more concerned about the manufacture and sale of Obama thong underwear more than I would the naming of two small, plush dolls.