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. Katie

    So we wouldn't want any company to be making money now, would we? If they wanted the kids kept private we shouldn't have known who designed their clothes, what they like to eat, where they go to school, who their favorite band is. You cannot have it both ways as a celebrity. But they always want it both ways.

    January 24, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  2. margaret

    reading again all these comments about "they've been in the press, Palin's children got written about" - that is a totally different matter. Press is hard to control. Multi-million dollar companies taking the names and "likenesses" of two children without their consent and making products out of them - that shouldn't be so hard to control, if said companies had any decency.

    January 24, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  3. Robert- GA

    One word- Pathetic!

    January 24, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  4. jay



    January 24, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  5. Lyle

    The Obamas should be thrilled that a toy manufacturer has devised a way to brain-wash more children and bring them into the Cult of Obama and as we know, the Obamas love being admired, so what is the problem?

    January 24, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. mom

    Michelle Obama is 100% correct. Any marketing concepts, ideas, products that depict or are even similar to the children of the President should be completely avoided. We should boycott this product out of respect for the First Children.
    This company crossed the line.

    January 24, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  7. Shay

    There should be a boycott of these dolls and the TY company.

    There were no Bush girl beanie babies dolls, no Clinton girl beanie baby dolls.

    This company is just trying to make money on the backs of the Obama girls. It is a disgrace!

    January 24, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  8. faye dale

    the companies that make themselves rich by other peoples names should have to have their permission. greed has no limits.

    January 24, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. ANGIE

    It is all about the dollar for ty. shame. The girls did not run for office and their parents have every right to protest and protect their daughters. The children of ANY polictial figure should be off limits. PERIOD!!!!!!1

    January 24, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. dharmas

    this is outrageous, Is there no law against coopting names of famous individuals

    January 24, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Pat

    Many people are saying that this is OK and to be expected because the Obama's are public figures. One of the big differences between our country and other places in the world is that WE DO NOT EXPLOIT CHILDREN. We don't use them for child labor and our job as a society is to protect them. Ty did not get the message. Apparently neither did a lot of other people in the country. If your candidate did not win this election GET OVER IT. Would you think it was OK if it was your child? No of course not.

    January 24, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. nayda


    January 24, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. MC

    Mrs. Obama, honey, I feel for you. It would make me mad too. But you and Mr. Obama chose to make this run. You chose to put yourselves– and your girls– in the national fishbowl. You're going to have to accept that your babies are now celebrities– with everything that implies– and learn to deal with it. They will learn from you– God help them if you cope poorly.

    January 24, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  14. JS

    How typical. What's the big deal? I bet she is no longer proud of America.

    January 24, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  15. Rob

    It's time to grow up America. Obama and Michelle publiciaed themselves just as everyother politician has. BUt children, whether thrust into the spotlight or not, cannot make decisions on their own, and shouldn't be blamed or persecuted becuase of that very fact. Lay off the kids, let them be. Ty should pull these dolls and everyone else, leave the kids alone. People Like No Hillary = No Obama obviously don't have children of their own, so do us a favor and don't reproduce. Youe type of ignorance which is willing to sacrifice children for money is one we don't need

    January 24, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Dee

    I cannot believe how mean spirited some folks are on here. Whether you like the Obama's or not, this is exploitation at its worst!
    Because people in public office are in the public eye does not entitle anyone to exploit their children.
    The US economy is in the tank as a result of greed and this is yet another example of irresponsible corporate greed...anything to make a dollar! Are there no longer any moral values we as a society adhere to?
    I think people should speak out and boycott TY products! Unless we speak out against this type of greed we can only blame ourselves for the type of unethical & valueless society we live in!!

    January 24, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. Xavier

    Impeach Now,
    On one side you have two girls who are still in elementary school, and havent engaged in such behavior as getting drunk in public, having sex out of marriage and such. On the other side you have the daughter of a publicity hungry individual with delusions of becoming president. She taunts her christian morals, yet her high school daughter engages in pre-maritial sex and gets pregnant. You have a young man who still hasnt married the girl who is carrying his child. I understand that there is no law that says that he has to marry her, but according to the morals that republicans keep bringing up isnt that what he is suppose to do? Wow, you must really be a moron if you actually try to compare the two cases.

    January 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. lucy

    wow, the hatred in these letters is really, really frightening. these are children and any parent is likely to object to commercial use made of their child, over which they have no control the dolls are a little creepy but the larger issue is what someone else might do with their images, if no objection is raised. and i have to add that, although there was some media buzz when the child of an anti-sex-education parent got pregnant, i have never heard anything unkind about Trig ever, and except when one of the (adult) Bush girls got caught breaking the law, the press has pretty muc kept quiet about the kids. all of who showed up at some time or another during the campaigns. if you guys are the "Christian" right, you had better start reading and understanding the bible.

    January 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. ms

    I agree...the kids are off limits

    January 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. nayda


    As wild and crazy the bush twins are, you never saw them sold as toys or on girls gone wild videos!

    January 24, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. Jim

    Only Michelle should be able to shamelessly use those two girls. She's done a good job so far.

    January 24, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. bill

    Boycott Ty toys!!!!

    Boycott Ty toys!!!

    Boycott Ty toys!!!

    Say no to exploiting children!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 24, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Barry

    Listen to me America, I voted for Obama I am proud that I voted for a man who changed history forever. On the other hand the Obama's are constantly using there children as props through the whole campaign, what did they honestly think was going to happen. Now on to TY, they must think we are completly stupid making up a story saying that it was just by chance they were named that. BULL CRAP!!! I do love that Obama won but they need to understand, if you are going to use your children as props to get elected then you have to pay the consequences later.

    January 24, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. demecowen

    To TNmom: Sarah Palin during the elections talk that she had more all-american values than Obama. While her daugther Bristol Palin is an underage teenagers that is having a child, where was Sarah value to teaching her daughter?

    Mike: The Bush girls, really? After getting in trouble with drinking under the age many times, just making George Bush look bad.

    The Media rip them apart, but they brought on themselves, they should have known better.

    Both of you are going to say fair game to for little girls to be use as maketing ploy without the even the parents say in the matter?

    January 24, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. willem

    i'm not into dolls much, any chance there will be any obama cars soon?

    silly americans... weird weird..

    January 24, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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