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. George

    I am so happy with all you nut jobs in here. If this were to happen to the Bush twins, you could care less. You tell Mrs. Bush to get over it and stop her crying.

    In addition, to tell people if it were your kids you be upset. First, if it were your kids you do your best to get some money out of the deal.

    To most of you liberals you wanting to sue people is a form of lottery! You look for a big payday off the back of someone else’s hard work.

    You Democrats always know how to play the victim well. And Mrs. Obama is just being a good old Democrat like the rest of you.

    The company has done nothing wrong and if you don’t like it then don’t buy them. Stop acting like big babies!

    January 23, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  2. Linda32

    Guess what? The First Lady has a right to be upset about this blatant exploitation of her girls. Jon in CA, unlike Palin, the Obama girls were only "brought out" during special occasions and weekends. What the TY company did was wrong and those are their children. So to those bloggers that don't get it, I say get over yourself!

    January 23, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  3. Amanda

    I guess Mrs. Obama is ashamed of her country again. What a joke she is. She and her husband made the decision to place their kids in the public eye.

    January 23, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  4. elmo

    who cares...downgrade the palin kids but don't go near the O's kids...

    January 23, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  5. Donna

    Sasha and Malia are PRIVATE CITIZENS..they did NOT run for office so TY is out of line..and for them to LIE is another insult...Barack and Michelle are adults and entered into this willingly..the kids did not..

    Ty should be shame of themselves.....they couldn't think of any other names besides SASHA and MALIA???Puhleeze

    January 23, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  6. dave

    Ty just violated sasha and malia's publicity rights. This won't stand up in court.

    January 23, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  7. William

    Ty is full of idiots to think we are such idiots, but that said, I betcha 'chell has a set of dollies and the girls are tickled to be models.

    January 23, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  8. Independent in NC

    Personally, I'm more disturbed by the breasts on the dolls, given the ages of both girls.

    January 23, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  9. Jody Monroe

    Ty will take them off the market & the few that sold will be collector's items - worth a mint!

    January 23, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |

    Michelle just needs some Mydol. It's time to spread the wealth.

    January 23, 2009 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  11. Democrat who loves these dolls

    I disagree.....these dolls are great and my daughters love them.

    It's about time we finally have a doll that my daughters can relate to and can be proud of.

    Michelle and Barack are wrong on this issue!

    January 23, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  12. Ladont

    Contact Walmart and Toys-R-Us and tell them of your disgust with the dolls and Ty and ask that they refuse to sell the dolls or anything else made by Ty until the dolls are taken off the market.

    January 23, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  13. stephanie guinn

    You go Mrs. Obama! The girls should be strictly off limits just like the Clintons mandated for Chelsey.

    January 23, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  14. Chris Crocker

    The next youtube video should be Chris Crocker crying and screaming "LEAVE THE OBAMA'S ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!" hahaha

    January 23, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  15. G in BR

    To Bob(7:24pm), Tom(7:36pm), and some other commenting idiots:

    I think the main thing that is upsetting the First Lady is that Ty did not GET PERMISSION to issue these dolls in the likeness of her daughters. Let's look at it like this: If someone you knew (friend or acquaintance) created a doll that looked like your daughter and was named after your daughter without your PERMISSION, I would bet that would make you feel a little creepy wouldn't it? Just because you are in the public eye does not give someone the right to invade your families space without your permission!! Get a grip and think before you comment. Fools!!

    January 23, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  16. AP

    That's totally irrelevant here. Obamas knew that they were stepping into the public arena when running for the Presidency. It comes with the territory.

    Joe the Troll January 23rd, 2009 7:48 pm ET

    All these people telling her to "suck it up" and get used to it – you know very well that if it were YOUR children, you'd sue for a piece of the action.

    January 23, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  17. Susan

    I hope TY is sued to the max for what they have done. Their stupidity and lack of respect for President Obama's and Michelle's two girls is off the charts. In the meantime, suffice it to say DON'T BUY ANY OF THEIR PRODUCTS.

    January 23, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  18. Wow

    "Too bad, Michelle — you wanted the limelight — you got it!"

    Then I think to be fair they should put out a "Bulging Bristol" and a "Purse-totin' Piper".

    January 23, 2009 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  19. Carl in Atlantic City

    For the love of Pete, what's the big deal? This seems like a pretty flattering portrayal to me. Its not like TY made Sasha and Malia 'Bratz' dolls and hooched them all out or something. Then I could understand the furor over this.

    Look folks, the kids are public figures now and yes, of course, there are personal challenges that accompany that public role. But these two girls will also have a lifetime of benefits made possible by the fact that their dad is President.

    To my mind, the dolls are adorable and the portrayal is positive. No harm, no foul.

    January 23, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  20. flyer

    It's called free enterprise.

    January 23, 2009 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  21. PatR

    As in the past, Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton were not to be pestered by the press. The Bush twins were older and created some of their own drama; however, they were still entitled to privacy.
    The Obama girls are also entitled to privacy. Sounds like TY is taking advantage of the situation.
    ?? – Are the dolls produced in China? Are they safe? Are they outsourced by TY?
    You can be sure I won't be purchasing from TY now or in the future.

    January 23, 2009 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  22. MyAudacity

    I think the making of the dolls without the parent's permission crosses the line.

    For those who say it comes with the territory. Would it have been appropriate to make dolls of Sara Palin's children? Absolutely not!

    January 23, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  23. deborah, WV

    I agree with our first lady. If nothing is said, then any company can and will come out with Malia and Sasha bookbags, lunchboxes, pajamas, tee shirts . . . it would get crazy!!

    Personally I think these little girls are adorable and I would love to have a likeness of them in my home, but not at the expense of their privacy and without their family's permission.

    I won't be buying them either.

    January 23, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  24. Mona

    I think that it is sick that Ty is using the president's daughters for personal gain. LEAVE THOSE TWO GIRLS ALONE!!!

    January 23, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  25. fearful for my country

    omg! They should be grateful for the compliment. They are the first ever AA beanie babys, yet setting their own history. It's a freaking compliment! Go figure. You just can't please the AA's.

    January 23, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
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