January 24th, 2009
10:05 AM ET
3 months ago

Michelle Obama: 'Inappropriate' to use daughters to sell dolls

Ty, the maker of Beanie Babies, is introducing two new Ty Girlz dolls named Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha.
Ty, the maker of Beanie Babies, is introducing two new Ty Girlz dolls named Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – They’ve been in the White House less than a week, but the first daughters have already been co-opted by marketers — and Michelle Obama isn’t happy about it.

Ty, the toy company responsible for the popular Beanie Babies dolls, is now marketing “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” dolls.

The first lady’s office said Friday Ty was out of line. “We feel it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes,” said a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama in a statement.

A Ty representative told CNN the company generally avoids naming dolls for “any particular living individual,” because doing so might interfere with how kids use their imaginations to play with them. But they wouldn’t reveal the source of their inspiration for the new figures, telling CNN that information relating to the development of the company’s merchandise - including how it comes up with products, product names, and trademarks – is proprietary.

Related video: First lady miffed by 'Malia,' 'Sasha' dolls

–CNN White House Producer Becky Brittain contributed to this report.


Filed under: Michelle Obama • Obama family • Popular Posts
soundoff (966 Responses)
  1. frankie

    Malia and Sasha are hardly unique names...come to santa monica and you will find a few!

    January 23, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  2. BB

    Hey – corporate understands one four letter word $$$$

    That's all they understand.

    January 23, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  3. Arvind

    Sure, their lives are private and no one knew their names until Ty brought out the dolls. Obama should not have brought them to the inauguration if he thinks their privacy might be violated.

    January 23, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  4. Alex

    Wow, some of you people are really heartless and sick. I am shocked to see so many mean-spirited remarks here. I GUARANTEE that if the Bush twins would have been target, these same people that are telling the First Lady to "get over it" would be claiming that this was shameful and disrespectful. What a bunch of hypocrites. I don't even have children, but I can certainly understand why a parent would be upset at the use of their young children's names and images used in such a manner. For those of you claiming that they wanted the "limelight", you are obviously sore-loser Republicans. Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan want the "limelight". People that are OUR public servants are not the same. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for thinking it's okay for a company to exploit two innocent and young children simply because you don't agree with the political leanings of their parents.

    January 23, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  5. bill

    I do think when you're in the public eye and put yourself there you gotta take the lumps. But I do not think for a second that it's okay to exploit kids who did not choose to be in the public eye. These two little girls have been exploited by greedy executives.

    January 23, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. Peter

    I think it's about time that we teach big business a lesson and BOYCOTT the TY company. Think of how you would feel if they were your children.

    January 23, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  7. tennisguypitt

    This is completely unnecessary, forget that, it's downright wrong. I would be suing these guys if they were my kids!

    January 23, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  8. Dewey Sharkey

    TYME OUT !
    Ultimate bad taste...leave the girls alone! Do not distract the family with such...There is too much to be done.

    January 23, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  9. dsl

    The President of the United States is not the only person in the world who lives a "public life". So do all politicians, ministers, movie stars, etc. Each to a different degree of popularity & maybe to a different crowd or even to different ethnicities. In each of these the whole family is put in a FISH BOWL & every one of them are watched.
    How many pictures were taken when Sasha or Malia looked bored during the long inauguration parade? Let's face it, if these kids pick their nose, it's going to be on a magazine cover somewhere or SNL will do a skit of it.
    Is it right? No! My children live a semi-public life & much is expected of them because of their "daddy's job", does that make it right that people expect too much of my children? No way! Do I get mad? You bet I do! Can I change it – NO. Neither can Michelle Obama & this is only the first week!! Good luck Michelle, it's not going to get any easier.....

    January 23, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  10. Julia

    Oh, please. Surely Ty does not expect us to believe that they just happened to pick the names Sasha AND Malia out of a hat. For one, these names are not all that common (particularly Malia) and especially not as a combination. The dolls are beautiful, but it is shameful that this company would use President Obama's' daughters in this way to make a buck and then not even have decency to acknowledge what they've done. Shame on them. Michelle Obama is right to be angry.

    January 23, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  11. Dawn

    It should be up to the mother, not the Ty company to make beanine baby Obama Girls. I know that they are living in a bubble, the worlds children will be watching every move, but any good mother, whether you are First Lady or the working mother or the homemaker has the right to protect their children.
    By the way did anyone hear the message from the Bush Twins to the Obama sisters. It was very beautiful and it did come from the heart. From sliding down the banisters to a pool party to sleepover to traveling around the world with their parents, not to miss out anything while your father is in the white house. It was very touching, no matter what you thought of Dubya, his daughters wrote a very heartfelt.

    January 23, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  12. tennisguypitt

    This is completely unnecessary, forget that, it's downright wrong. I would be suing these guys if they were my kids!

    January 23, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  13. Dewey Sharkey

    TYME OUT !
    Ultimate bad taste...leave the girls alone! Do not distract the family with such...There is too much to be done.

    January 23, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  14. dsl

    The President of the United States is not the only person in the world who lives a "public life". So do all politicians, ministers, movie stars, etc. Each to a different degree of popularity & maybe to a different crowd or even to different ethnicities. In each of these the whole family is put in a FISH BOWL & every one of them are watched.
    How many pictures were taken when Sasha or Malia looked bored during the long inauguration parade? Let's face it, if these kids pick their nose, it's going to be on a magazine cover somewhere or SNL will do a skit of it.
    Is it right? No! My children live a semi-public life & much is expected of them because of their "daddy's job", does that make it right that people expect too much of my children? No way! Do I get mad? You bet I do! Can I change it – NO. Neither can Michelle Obama & this is only the first week!! Good luck Michelle, it's not going to get any easier.....

    January 23, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. Sensible Joe

    It is utterly disingenuous for Ty to claim it dreamed up two dolls named Malia and Sasha - who "just happen" to be black - on their own, with no reference whatsoever to the Obama family. Shame on Ty!

    January 23, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  16. Deb

    I totally agree with Mrs. Obama. It is extremely inappropriate to market dolls based on the real lives of our present President's daughters. Isn't there a moral, public-relations/press rule that children of high dignataries are off limits! Especially in our society which unfortunately consist of wing nuts! Imagine the perverted senarios some may perform? This will unfortunately initiate obessive behavior!

    January 23, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  17. Michelle

    To the posters saying too bad – look at the Palins. There is a difference folks – Sarah Palin is a proponent of no sex education except abstinence. Well that didn't work out so well and people wanted to point that out to her!!! her daughter was living proof that 'just don't do it' doesn't work! I thought Bristol was a nice girl that should have been at home in school. But she unfortunately became the poster child for why sex ed is important. This issue is about a toy company using images of people without their permission, not just that the President's children are some sort of public property. Ty can deny that the Obama girls are the inspiration all they want – we know the truth.

    January 23, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. bill

    I do think when you're in the public eye and put yourself there you gotta take the lumps. But I do not think for a second that it's okay to exploit kids who did not choose to be in the public eye. These two little girls have been exploited by greedy executives.

    I will not by any Ty toys again.

    January 23, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  19. Woody

    These people are our elected officials. They are no longer "private citizens" The courts have found that paparazzi have every right to capitalize on the rich and famous, Obama dolls,shirts, bobbleheads,pictures,and any items that can be made and sold will be.
    Everything they do and I mean EVERYTHING will be a matter of public scrutiny for the rest of their lives.
    Anytime the Bush girls did anything , the press was right there, same as Caroline Kennedy, she still can't get away from pictures taken in 1962.
    All I can say is you started the parade during the election,placing the children out like trophies "see our kids" aren't they great??
    As Bush said and everyone went along, "There is no government guarantee of personal privacy"

    January 23, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  20. Barbara

    Go, Michelle! Yes, it's totally opportunistic, tacky, and invasive of the Ty Corporation. And insulting to all of our intelligence not to "reveal the source of inspiration for the two figures" while saying they "generally avoid naming dolls for any particular living individual." So this is just coincidence???? And besides Bodacious Bristol, as someone suggested, where were Jolly Jenna and Bubbly Barbara? Cheery Chelsea? One could go on... Ty won't get another penny of my money.

    January 23, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  21. walstarr

    while don't think this ty bunch should get into making money from the little obama girls. Being a great grandfather, let these kids go on with on with their lives.

    January 23, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  22. Sheri

    Mrs. Obama needs to get a grip. She says that it isn't right to use "private citizens"? Is she for real.....she put those girls in the line of fire...get over it, and get used to it...this is America...oh yeah, that's right, we have to keep reminding them where they live, and who they are supposed to be defending...instead of setting terrorists free....get ready America....

    January 23, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  23. HandsomeElvis

    Hasn't this company made enough money marketing usless crap? The dolls are not even the girls' likenesses and appear to have boobs.

    Time to email TY.

    January 23, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  24. Matt

    Hey, First Lady! It all comes with a price. Cruel fact. Name a president's child that hasn't been a victim of "invasion." Maybe you and your hubby should have considered the kids' best interest instead of your own, eh?

    January 23, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  25. jen

    i think this situation wouldn't be so bad if the toy company had consulted the obama family ahead of time. at least get their input and permission first. the obama's might have supported the idea with a certain percent going to charity.

    January 23, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
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