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. Chuck

    So Michelle doesn't denounce the Obama Girl – that OK, but she's bent out of shape about dolls for kids? She is a knucklehead.

    January 24, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. SG

    Whoosh! This country is going down the toilet.

    January 24, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. Alex Palacios

    As a father of four, that is disgusting by Ty. And if they think this is just a coincidence that 2 names, names that are not like John Smith, Jane Doe, Mary just happen to inspire them. I say boycot TY and explain to our kids why we are boycoting them

    January 24, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. Get Over It, Public Figures Families are Public

    Get over it Michelle, Barak decided to run for the Presidency, you agreed with him, and in doing so also agreed to all of the publicity and figure marketing that will end up coming out of this. This happens with every public figure, so in deciding to be public, you decided for yourself that your family was fair game for the media and marketers and the like. You agreed to expose your children to the media through millions in ads before the election, to try to hook the public on a family themed presidency, and now you want them all out? Can't have it both ways. Not in today's society, every other president's family has been treated similar, why is yours different?

    January 24, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  5. meemaw

    Unless any of the Obama's signed a licensing agreement with any vendors using their image (just like athletes and entertainers) and are receiving a percentage it is wrong.

    January 24, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. WH DC

    Everybody just shut up. You all make me sick for feeding into this nonsense just to stir things up. It is disgusting.

    January 24, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  7. Ray Fisher

    This is no more inappropriate than the plates, T-shirts,etc... from the inauguration. Why not have an official endorsement like sports teams and use the money for our nation??? We could begin paying off our debts with proceeds from official Obama memoribilia!!!

    January 24, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. merlisa

    The Obamas did not exploit their children. They only made public appearances five or six times in the entire 2 years he was running for office.

    It is tradition to bring the entire family on stage when you are at a convention or receiving a nomination. That is not exploiting.

    What bugs me is you know there are sickos out there and when your children are in the public eye you don't want to give sickos anything else to obsess about. The dolls look nothing like the girls so I doubt they will be that popular.

    January 24, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. Baker

    Typical double standards. The President and First Lady used their daughters during the election to help them win votes, now they don't want look-alike dolls made of them? They're no longer private citizens. Get over it.

    Liberals attacked Palin's kids during the election, saying awful things about them, even suggesting the youngest was not Sarah's, but her daughter's.

    Double standards.

    January 24, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. I told you so

    I thought the Obamas' wanted people to worship them.... I am happy to see that they are protective of their children though.

    January 24, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. I told you so

    No Hillary = No Obama,

    i could not have said it any better.

    January 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. mere observer

    I would imagine that if Obama's promise of change does not start to show true signs of materialising in the first 100 days, these dolls will up for a Buy-One-Get-One-Free sales pitch in no time.

    January 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  13. sally brown

    I think that TY should donate all profits to a charity chosen by the Obamas maybe a Military Wife's charity. The people of America need to understand that we do not own those precious children.

    January 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. jim love

    Well, Michelle, welcome to reality. The country is in a financial death spiral, as she well knows, and even if her nest is well-feathered right now, the rest of us are doing what we can to keep the bills paid. Selling babydolls of famous children is not exactly a heinous barbaric activity. I well remember when the Obama kids were trotted out during the convention for all to see and the one girl, probably coached, kept saying "I love you Daddy" over and over again. Apparently that was okay. but marketing these toys is not. Michelle, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

    January 24, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. abby

    If the Obamas claim their daughters "private citizens" and that they shouldn't be in the limelight, then why did they ever release the letter that Barrack wrote to his daughters? That should have been a private letter... oh wait, he probably only wrote it so he could release it to the press!

    The Obamas have already set a precedence for their daughters being "public figures".

    January 24, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  16. Sharon

    My best advice is to get over it. In your position (and that of your family) it is a given that much worse things can come along that will grieve your spirit. Your family is now a target for not only good things, but also actions that can destroy you. The girls will take "their dolls" in stride, just as they will the ugly things that crop up because you have trained them well.

    January 24, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  17. Ronnie Patrick

    I agree for God sakes let those children be. Take those dolls off the market and find something eles to do.

    January 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  18. Ruth Lothammer

    Michelle Obama you Rock! Keep telling it like it is.......not only was it out of line, but totally nauseating, trying to capitalize off of children. Go bury your head in the sand TY!

    January 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  19. rottencorpse

    Im sorry to say that her daughters are NOT private citizens anymore. Once the Obamas started parading their daughters in front of the cameras while they were campaigning and at every other media event they lost that status. i would be honored if someone made a doll that resembled my child. It would seem that there are worse things to get upset about then this.

    January 24, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. Carole

    Tonya's comment is absolutely right. Ty could stand to lose a few customers!

    January 24, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. Eddy

    Children are off limits. Let our politicians serve without involving the children. That means the children of Obama, Cheney, Bush, Clinton, etc. We need to focus on policy not children when watching politicians.

    January 24, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  22. Julie & Mark Ferguson

    Ty is holding true to the typical corporate smug & greed with their stance. What arrogance and idiots. Given the circumstances, my husband and I have opted to replace all of our kids toys with similar products from another manufacturers, and the one's were chucking won't be donated anywhere... they're being destroyed then dumped in the garbage can. One way or another, corporate America is going to find respect, dignity and responsibility to people and it begins here and now.

    January 24, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  23. sweet suzy

    Those are cute dolls.

    I think I'll buy a set.

    Why don't they name a doll after me?

    That's just not fair.

    January 24, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  24. No Hillary = No Hillary

    No Hillary, unlike the President, who is a public figure, the daughters are private citizens. The first lady is right to make the distinction.

    January 24, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. Geraldine

    I will boycott Ty

    January 24, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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