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Hidden Potential of Bratz Dolls Revealed

For eight years, Wendy Tsao sewed and knitted softies based on children's drawings. It was a craft she pursued with passion, until she stopped.

A few months ago, she came across Australian artist and crafter Sonia Singh, whose Tree Change Dolls made her change the way she looked at the wildly popular (and not uncontroversial) Bratz dolls. Singh's repaired and upcycled dolls are given new life—and a more down-to-earth look complete with clothing suitable to adventure and fun.

Using Tree Change Dolls as inspiration, Tsao, too, is creating new life for Bratz dolls. She removes their makeup (meaning, their entire faces) and repaints the features. She peels off their skimpy tight clothing (And fishnet stockings! And heels!) and sews or knits up something more suitable for the lifestyle each doll will pursue.

The results are amazing, cute and require much less soul-searching for feminist moms watching their daughters unpack one of the wildly popular original Mattel dolls.

Tsao explains the process on her blog, where she also features images of her creations. Each Bratz doll that comes to her (she doesn't work on brand new ones) is washed with hot water and soap. Some come with "beauty marks" or "tattoos," the result of a former owner getting creative with a permanent marker.

She brushes their hair and dresses them in new clothes, which Tsao writes brings "back memories of forgotten childhood play." She makes all the new clothes either sewing or knitting what she needs.

Tsao says she figured out how to draw the faces back on through YouTube tutorials, including some posted by Singh. For her, it's a joy seeing the dolls' personalities emerge as she paints.

Tsao has made some in the likeness of famous women. Other dolls look like the adventuresome girl in your class, or at home, or next door, or even in the mirror.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Wendy Tsao

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