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After their release in 2001, Bratz dolls carved into Barbie’s previously monopolistic share of teen doll sales. Amidst their growing popularity, cultural critics expressed a host of concerns about Bratz dolls, especially over how they sexualize youth, but the line grew to include a host of products like costumes, makeup kits, games, books, clothing, and movies. It also inspired new, similar doll lines from other toy companies. In this article, we situate the Bratz’s popularity in a specific cultural moment tied to the history of modern feminism. We use a content analysis of the Bratz movie series to explore the feminist and post-feminist thematics it contains. We identify the images of girlhood that are being marketed through the films and explore how the series repackages not only girlhood but also feminism itself in a way that encourages girls to exchange political power for purchasing power.

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Media, Culture & Society

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Sarah Becker is also an affiliate faculty member of African and African-American Studies.