January 24th, 2009
10:05 AM ET
9 years ago

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/01/22/obama.dolls/art.sasha.malia.dolls.ty.jpg caption="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. Ella

    I find it stupid that the dolls were named like Obama's girls. Do they really think they'll get rich selling these dolls just because many people like the Obamas? Com' on! Matter of fact, I guess many decided to ignore these dolls because they were name Sasha and Malia. Boomerang!

    January 23, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  2. Ronnie King

    I think that the First Lady is correct- other celebrities have control over
    their images and can sue if they are unhappy. I THINK WE SHOULD BOYCOTT TY CORPORATION FOR THIS BLATANT AND OFFENSIVE FAUX PAS! Maybe they will make CAYLEE dolls next (gross!)

    January 23, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  3. Anonymous


    January 23, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  4. Bill Hewett

    Why would anyone support a company that operates like the evil right racial republicans. This idea just might have roots in the NRC. This is just the beginning from those who hate and attack good people including their children.

    January 23, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  5. Matt

    If you think being a family member of the President puts you off limits you realy are dumb. If this is the worst to every happen or be said about the Obama family from here to the end of time they should be happy. The Bush daughters has their moments too. I'm waiting to see if Letterman and Leno have the balls to rag our new President as they did our last. Don't think so though, the NAACP and others will run them out of show buisnees if they even try. Equality for all, I don't think so.

    January 23, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  6. Maggie

    Welcome to public life, Michelle. Get use to it, and don't complaint about it because you asked for it.

    January 23, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  7. Arden

    I will not be buying merchandise made by the Ty Corp. and they should be forced to discontinue the dolls immediately.

    January 23, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  8. The Truth

    1) Nobody cares.
    2) Would anybody seriously buy those?

    January 23, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  9. nancy

    I think these dolls are a wonderful inspiration for all young girls to make it seem an everyday thing for the father of these two girls, a black man, to be president. It allows much younger children access to the whole concept. The real problem here is the clearly inarticulate spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama who displays an extraordinary lack of education or a very isolated lifestyle: "We feel it is inappropriate to use your private citizens for marketing purposes. " "Your private citizens"????? This is the kind of grammar used by Archie Bunker and people with minimal educations or limited contact with mainstream educated people and it is grossly inappropriate for the spokesperson for a First Lady.

    January 23, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  10. Arwen

    This product by Ty is totally tacky and utterly uncalled for. Ty should be ashamed of itself. Why did we not have the Bush daughters as Ty Beanie babies? It's a matter of very simple respect. Ty doesn't seem to have it.

    January 23, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  11. rita

    PROPRIETARY! they are children, not a commercial entity, and aren't for sale in any shape or form.

    And furthermore children are to be protected, not exploited.

    ok, i've run out of nice words.

    January 23, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  12. Linda

    To Lawl: Surely you're not comparing what is being here to the Obama girls to Sarah Palin's daughter?! Give me a break!

    January 23, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  13. AnneRice

    Who cares? They are public figures, they should have thought of the exposure of the kids long before stepping into the limelight. Zero sympathy.

    January 23, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  14. Whatever

    Who cares? Seriously – dolls make the front page... There is a lot more pressing matters in the world than the first ladies beanie babies...

    January 23, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  15. Simmy

    To the Three Amigos: Ernie in LA....... Jon in CA......... Lynn

    Loss of privacy is one thing; exploitation is something completely different. Ty is capitalizing on a market created by the popularity of the First Family, and using their most precious treasures; their children, for their profit. That is sick and disrespectful.
    Why is it that Republican bashers only dominate the blogs when the subject is "Obama"-related? You really need to find hobbies or do some type volunteer work to get your minds off your loss. You sound like haters of this country rather than citizens. You should be venting your anger on your former president. Look at the mess he left you in!


    "All things are lawful...not all things are expedient." Free speech is a right that you are "privileged to exercise. Just because you can say it doesn't mean it should be said. Your comment was in very poor taste.

    January 23, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    They look Hispanic and they have little boobs. Effin' creepy, Ty. Seriously.

    January 23, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  17. Donald White

    When they started dragging those kids onto the stage and using them in "warm spots" during the campaign the children became notorious persons subject to characterization. The parents, by their putting the children in the limelite, threw open the door for this action and, I dare say, much more in the future.

    January 23, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  18. Stephy

    And we I was thinking we could not have hit a new low...

    January 23, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. Juliane

    Hillary should go home, and Michelle should be Secretary of State

    January 23, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  20. wow, they are asking for it

    is there no fear of government?

    January 23, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  21. nancy

    go michelle. the kids did not run for office, their dad did. the kids are to be left alone and allowed to be kids. ty was wrong.

    January 23, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  22. Rufonso

    Ty should close their doors. How greedy and disrepectful.

    January 23, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  23. Kate WA

    Now this is funny! American ingenuity capitalizing on the anointed one once again. This is just as much fun to sit back and grin over as all of the American flags the Obamamaniacs defaced for the inaugural celebration with his face printed on the flags. That was likened to "free speech" and free commerce, so they say, so this must be the same thing as that. So, "Go get 'em Ty! ".

    January 23, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  24. couple

    Ty knew what they were doing. What strikes me is the lax reply from the company, and a lot of people.

    There were no dolls by a major makers of the Bush twins. I mean TWINS, they could be friends of Barbie.

    Or what of McCains seven children. Collect them all!

    Would we have seen Palin family dolls? Or is that what is over the line?

    This is the new racism in America. We are expecting this First Family to be more taken advantage of and exploited, and then astonished when they say no, not this time.

    January 23, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  25. Rally

    or it was probaly cnn's moderators. as they are good at doing stupid things. like deleting reasonable comments.

    January 23, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
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