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. annoyed

    HI, no Hillary=no Obama,
    Did you bother to comprehend the article before commenting??? The problem is not that the "Obama" name was used. The problem is that the young Obama children are being used as a marketing tool for a toy company. Shame on them for doing that and shame on you for trying to turn this into something its not. RIF

    January 24, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. anonymous

    I agree with the First Lady, if permission was not given then the doll maker is shameless in their exploitation of the president's daughters.

    January 24, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Naomi, NC

    I agree with Michelle, the kids aren't animals. Use other names for the dolls. Also, they may be the subject of taunting with these dolls. It is simply wrong.

    Now, when the kids become adults and they want to allow their names to be used, and get paid for it, that's different.

    For right now, not a good idea, and TY should know better.

    January 24, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. KofTX

    The negative comments on this post astound me....some people are so blinded by vitriol that they ACTUALLY believe that Barack and Michelle's love for their children is limited to exploitation! That says more about you than it does about the President and the First Lady.

    January 24, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. yoyolite

    The Obama girls were NOT out to often during the campaign. One rarely saw them tramping on stage or all over the country as the Palin Kids were. THe Obama girls were in school. So all those people writing that they were being used during thr campaign you obviosly did not follow the OBAMA'S CAMPAIGN..

    January 24, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. AJ

    I agree that it's a bit tasteless but Michelle Obama and her husband chose to be on the spotlight and now they have to live with it. Michelle needs to stop whining.

    January 24, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  7. jose a. aldrich

    Too many manufacturers and advertising companies in the United States use children for profit. They don't respect their inocence, much less their dignity.

    Have you seen the add that puts a man's voice on a baby and shows him vomiting on TV?

    This is the case of this doll manufacturer who cinically pretends to mute the obvious fact that these dolls are meant to be the President's children by alleging private "property rights". You're right folks, this element of fortune is claiming property rights on private people's looks Of course, let's all buy patent rights on our faces so they have to pay us royalties everytime they sell our copied resemblance.

    dorado, puerto rico


    January 24, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Clare

    It seems inappropriate to me, even if the girls are now part of the public domain.

    January 24, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  9. Corey Gillingham

    The minute Obama and Michelle trotted their daughters out on the stage with them those girls became fair game. You cant have it both ways Michelle, and you should have realized it at the time.

    January 24, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Ryan Bathe

    President Obama was very clear in his demand that Sarah Palin's children be left alone and his campaign never once talked about her family. Say what you want but his record on that matter is obvious.

    I know that there are people who are very angry about the election, about President Obama and about Democrats/liberals/the left. I get it. But try and separate "the left and the media and the kooky liberals" from the President and his record on matters pertaining to the rights of the children of people who are in the public and political eye. A company should not have the right to make dolls bearing the names of two girls without their permission. And Sarah Palin's children had just as much time on the campaign trail as did Malia and Sasha Obama.

    My fellow, Americans, please let us return common sense and at least the appearance of fair play to our debates. Does the right really hate the left that much?

    January 24, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  11. JL

    complete with bumps on there chest...what A- holes. Next stop...

    Ty :
    "we need a bail-out.....toys aren't selling."

    January 24, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. fuk ewe

    come on, naming toys after negro´s is common troughout the world.
    Golly Wogs (england) Coonie (america) kunta Kinte (Africa) is normal,.

    So what if ty makes dolls after the illegitimate offspring of the Kenyan citizen Barak Hussein Obama (Yes, his parents were NOT married at the spawns birth) so what. if Ronald (The Idiot) Regan can be president, why not some illegal, islamist illegitimate???
    (ps editor, i´m sure you won´t print this, because you are also an Illegal Immigrant)

    January 24, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Ty is out of bounds. Bush and Cheney's daughters, and Barack Obama are adults and can fend for themselves and make their own life decisions and suffer the consequences. We're talking about children here, and it's too bad that Ty is exploiting them to make a buck. At the very least they could have consulted with the Obamas first. With opposition from Michelle they probably could have struck a compromise.

    January 24, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. martinlm

    Funny how the liberals say that becasue the parents put the girls in the spotlight, they can't complain about it. Wasn't this the same arguement the Dems made about Palin kids, yet the liberals were up in arms about the attacks on them. Lets just all agree to leave the kids out of the media, it's not really a party issue.

    January 24, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. C.

    We live in an opportunistic world .How about all the coins, and memorabilia thats already getting hocked over the first Black man to run, then become the president?
    It isn't going to stop..It's been going on for years..and years..
    She needs to just accept her kids are now considered public domain.. And that sucks..
    Surely she must have known this would happen~?~!

    January 24, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  16. Toni

    You wanted the job, this is what comes along with it!

    No one came to Bush's daughters when they were put through the ringer and he didn't run them out for the election. Now you are going to call foul? Tough darts!

    January 24, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. TJM

    If this isn't representative of the GREED that got America into the current financial mess that we are now in, I don't know what is. To say that this is capitalism at it's best leaves out entirely the subject of ETHICS. Again, the lack of which is responsible for the current crisis we are in. This is the climate that has presented us with a woman who is selling her virginity online and is being offered 3.8 million for it. Ask yourselves: Is this the kind of world you want to live in?

    January 24, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. Baby Ray Ray

    Michelle my Belle is just envious that she is too homely to be made into a doll

    January 24, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Why not make dolls of the Bush twins, circa the college years? Each doll could come with its own bottle of beer.

    January 24, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. raberyleti

    Unfortunately, even though it's tacky, President Obama made them a 'target' when he decided to run for the most public office in the world. Having 3 sons of my own in addition to my husband having a high profile job, I totally understand Mrs. Obama's outrage. However, think of the consequences to your children BEFORE you make a decision.

    January 24, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Online reader

    The difference between the Obama girls and the Bush girls/Cheney's daughter is obvious: THEY ARE MINORS. Juveniles. Underaged. THAT'S why they should be left alone. Anyone who doesn't get that is either stupid or a Republican. Oh, wait–that's redundant.

    January 24, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. jason

    "These people are our elected officials. They are no longer "private citizens" The courts have found that paparazzi have every right to capitalize on the rich and famous, Obama dolls,shirts, bobbleheads,pictures,and any items that can be made and sold will be."

    i don't remember electing the obama girls to do anything. they never asked to be in this position. and, as far as what the courts say, law and ethics have never been synonymous with each other. the law can't police everything. and, as far as the comment about the bush twins and the publicity they received, you're right. they should have been left alone, and it wasn't right that everything they did, whether right or wrong, was scrutinized. but, that doesn't make it alright for future children.

    January 24, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  23. Obama 2.0

    The girls should sue the toy company.

    January 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  24. Toni

    Oh my gosh! These dolls are terrible – they put these children in a terrible light! How will the girls ever over come the mockery these dolls make of them – Look, these dolls are just toys. They don't show the girls in a bad light. These dolls don't have crack pipes in their hands. Michelle would have been wise to just ignore. I am going to look for these dolls and if I see them, I am going to buy them. They will be a part of history.

    January 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Dr Drey

    How about a Moose Michelle doll?

    January 24, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
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