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)

    CNN, this is bs, a non-story and you ought to close comments already.

    Oh wait, you've already accepted the dollars from the corporate freaks that own you.

    Wolf, Campbell, Crowley, and the rest of you hacks are cut from the same cloth as Hannity and the jerks at Politico.

    Grow a pair, drop the sensationalist stories and try JOURNALISM.

    January 24, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |


    January 24, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. James

    Sorry Michele you have not been annoited Goddess of America yet. Where was all of this anger about Palins family???

    January 24, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. E.White, Houston,TX

    I'm trying to remember if Tyco came out with some "Barbara" and "Jenna" dolls after Bush took office the first time.

    Nope. Don't think so.

    This should be stopped in its tracks.

    The exploitation of two young girls is unnecessary, and totally inappropriate.

    January 24, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Johnny Boy

    Judging from the comments thus far, the only people who will buy these dolls are Republican trolls. And, of course, they won't.

    I hope people boycott ALL of TY's products until they withdraw these and apologize.

    January 24, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Walter

    No matter whether the Obama's like it or not, they've transformed their kids into two of the most famous children in the world by becoming the First Family. That's why most politicians wait until their kids have grown up before they put them thru the wringer. Sasha and Malia, by virtue of being Obama's kids, are probably more famous than Hannah Montana is right now. Fame is something you can't take away. Just because Obama doesn't want his kids to be famous, doesn't mean that they aren't. Like most politicians, he used his kids as political tools (to soften his image or what have you) and put them on a national stage. They've been all over television, magazines, newspapers and up on stage with their dad, etc... Basically, just because you say something doesn't make it so. Obama's kids are famous, thanks to him, whether he likes it or not.

    January 24, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Sarah

    If these dolls are not off limits then neither is a Downs Syndrome look-alike doll named Trig.

    January 24, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Urkiddme

    I can't believe TY. I would be furious too! I'm with you Mrs Obama!! NO EXPLOITATION!!!

    January 24, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. missatlantaga57@hotmail.com

    She should stand up and say to marketers and everyone else, our kids are off limit, they are not my husband are me. Let them live their lives while they are kids, and by the way why do I keep hearing Mr. Obama are Barack Obama as of January 20th 2009, did he not become the President of United States. So President Obama are President Barack Obama, is that not the way he should be respected.

    V. C.

    January 24, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. grrrl

    It would be one thing if the parents had been given the opportunity to sign a contract allowing the girls to collect royalties on all sales OR to decline the "opportunity" to turn the girls into a commercial venture.

    Regardless of how you feel about the Obama's decisions regarding their children...the bottom line is they are THEIR children. This should not happen to any child without parental consent.

    All the Brittany Spears and Miley Cyrus dolls were money makers and done with legal contracts. Why should these children be treated any differently? Dolls are money makers. If a company is going to profit, the girls should benefit IF thier parents feel it is even appropriate to have dolls in their likeness.

    I don't buy that Ty just "happened" to be "inspired" to create two African-American dolls who coincidentally have the same names as the President's daughters. Get real.


    And...I think it's nice having children in the White House again. It brings a sweetness with it...if only everyone would play nice.

    January 24, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Dianne

    Good for First Lady Michelle – we need more people to take a stand and speak out. I hope people will boycott TY toy's and unite in respecting the children's privacy while they grow up in a very public place. I hope through the steadfast dlilgence the First Lady uses in raising her children that the example she sets will become an example to all families in raising their children.

    January 24, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. earle,florida

    Capitalist Pigs once again encroaching on individual rights,no wonder the rest of the world looks away from us,...

    January 24, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  13. Inga

    I'm not buying TY dolls for my daughter.

    January 24, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  14. couple

    As far as the clothes thing, which people are still bent on, there is a huge difference form having a clothing company say, "We will make clothes for you at our expense", then going to a high end store and spending $150,000 of RNC government issued MONEY (ie our tax dollars), as well as Government money for family members, instead of using allocated funds to run their champaign.

    HUGE difference. That no one will pay attention to.

    January 24, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Randolf Shaooperinin

    Michelle...get used to it........this is your "public" life!


    January 24, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Anonymous


    January 24, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda

    I really don't think they are being malicious about this. They saw a marketing opportunity and yes of course away to make a buck or two. BUT, they were out of line in not getting permisson to do so. Shame on them. A way out of this is have ALL the proceeds go to a charity of the girls chosing. A tax deduction for TY and a way for little girls of colour to have a piece of history, and someone to look up too.

    January 24, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. tcaudilllg

    Obama should sue them and use the money to pay for down the deficit.

    January 24, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. Cross

    The First Lady has every right to be upset. She's not only defending her girls but all African Americans across the world. The Ty Toy Company has never created two African American Dolls and African American Citizens please don't be fooled.

    And For those who keep repeating Sara Palin (She will Never BE The WOMAN) of First Lady Michelle Obama. She's alot educated with the society today...

    God Bless

    January 24, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. M. C.

    I don't see the big deal with having some dolls with likeness of the Obama's children. What I am offended by is the way Ty acts like people are dumb enough to believe their BS that the naming of these dolls has nothing to do with the Obama's children. F–k them. They're -ssh–es for thinking they're smart enough to get people to believe a load of s–t like that.

    January 24, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |



    January 24, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Brenda

    I wonder if Michelle thought it was inappropriate when newspapers and tabloids made money off selling photos of the Bush twins...I doubt it.

    January 24, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Ozarknana

    Well, after the new CPSIA law goes into effect on February 10th, unless these "dolls" are CPSIA certified they will be considered "hazardous", thanks to our wonderful clueless lawmakers.....and as far as the dolls? VERY poor taste....

    January 24, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. lou

    Since Michelle has finally gotten around to "being proud of America" for the first time in her life, perhaps she will catch up with the fact that the taxes paid by Ty from the sales of these dolls will help fun her husband's attempts to "lead" America out of its troubles. In addition, I think its quite a compliment to the girls that they are already being made into role models. Michelle should get a life. She's apparently a bigger harpy than Hillary. Good Grief!

    January 24, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Gambi

    Shame on Ty you know better.........Michele Obama's wishes regarding her children should be respected by all, no exceptions. They are children and should not be exploited by anyone.

    January 24, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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