News sources and the new first lady Michelle Obama pounced on Ty Company, the marketers for Beanie Babies, this week for producing Sasha and Malia dolls that resemble the first daughters. The first lady objects to the use of young, private citizens for marketing purposes.
The Ty Company claims that the resemblance and choice of names is coincidental. Tania Lundeen, spokeswoman for Ty, told the Associated Press that the Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha names were chosen simply for their beauty. She noted that nothing on the dolls indicates that they represent the First daughters and claimed “it would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls. They are not.”
One blogger scoffed at the notion that the Sasha and Malia doll name choices and resemblance to the first daughters was coincidental, pointing out that on the Social Security Administration’s list of popular baby names, the name “Sasha” is number 350 and “Malia” number 405. The idea that Ty selected these relatively uncommon names for dolls whose race and overall appearance mirror that of the Obama children is a bit hard to swallow.
But not matter the stance on Ty’s apparent effort to capitalize on the popularity of Sasha and Malia Obama, Ty is not the only maker of Sasha and Malia dolls. Etsy is selling a First Family doll set that includes the President, the First Lady and Sasha and Malia.
And these companies are not the first to try to cash in on cute first children. There is a long tradition in this country of First Family dolls. Didn’t the Obamas know this before moving into the White House?
In 1961, 5 year old Caroline Kennedy and her toddler brother John-John were depicted in paper doll sets. Madame Alexander sold that year the “Precious Kennedy” Caroline doll, a doll that today is a collector’s item.
Did Amy Carter get any more privacy that Sasha and Malia in the doll market? Nope. Amy Carter paper dolls hit the market in 1977 when her father Jimmy Carter was the president and Amy was 10 years old.
Long before the Sasha and Malia dolls, there were the Chelsea Clinton paper dolls.
Although their children were much older, the Reagan family were the subject of at least one paper doll set as well. That paper doll set depicted Nancy, Patti and Ron, Jr. along with their Presidential parents.
Is the Sasha and Malia doll controversy much ado about nothing?
Sources: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/parenting/detail?&entry_id=34975; http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/; http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=19413845; http://www.rubylane.com/shops/carolynstt/item/060176; http://books.google.com/books?id=0at7tQfeIhgC&pg=RA1-PA7&lpg=RA1-PA7&dq=chelsea+clinton+doll&source=bl&ots=MZHdg9G_p6&sig=NTelJlhHExFEuEhujwcfhhz5PeM&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPP1,M1; http://www.misfittoys.net/forsale/dolls/pdreagan.htm; http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/alltherage/2009/01/the-obamas-aren.html.