Story highlights

An artist is transforming sexualized Bratz dolls into inspiring women

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai is one such subject

Wendy Tsao hopes the dolls will inspire children

CNN  — 

There are plenty of dolls shown traveling the world in high heels, with makeup layered on so thick, it’s like Halloween all the time.

But how about some dolls children can admire, like Malala Yousafzai? Or primatologist Jane Goodall, author J.K. Rowling and actor/activist Waris Dirie?

That’s the idea behind Vancouver artist Wendy Tsao’s “Mighty Doll” project, in which she takes Bratz dolls – the hypersexualized figures known for their garish makeup, high fashion and heels – and turns them into women she wants children to admire.

Tsao was inspired by Australian mom Sonia Singh’s “Tree Change Dolls” project, in which Singh removed the makeup and skimpy clothes from Bratz and other dolls to show what child-like dolls look like.

“I was fascinated by the ‘make-unders’ – down-to-earth transformations of the Bratz doll – by Sonja Singh, and she encouraged others to try it,” Tsao wrote in an email. She took Singh’s encouragement to heart and started “Mighty Dolls” about two months ago.

“My Mighty Dolls came about from reading the ongoing disparaging comments about Bratz dolls and Barbie dolls, i.e. do these dolls negatively impact a child’s body image?

“I don’t know the answer to this question. But it made me consider the alternative or opposite: Could a child could learn something positive from their dolls?”

Barbie gets more real

She decided to make dolls of inspiring women as young children and hopes to start selling them on eBay in the next few weeks.

“I wonder if a child plays with this doll – will she have other conversations with her friends or family about this inspiring person, and think about and learn things that she might not have if she played with say, a Bratz doll or Barbie or Disney character doll?” Tsao wrote.

“Will she understand while playing with a young version of Jane Goodall, that Jane was a child once – like herself – who grew up to do things that were important to her? Will this have a positive impact on the child’s idea of what happens when we grow up?”