In the harsh fluorescent toy store lights, Barbie glowed — her luscious blonde hair, thin cinched waist, and perfectly tanned skin created one of the first beauty standards I was ever aware of seeing. Would I look like that in the future, I asked into the void at age nine. Then my eyes landed on her.
Sasha, a Bratz doll, wore a sparkly silver mini dress with matching heels and clear bangle jewelry. In her, I saw myself, the Black girl standing in a sea of white faces. But Sasha differed from me at the time. She was powerfully standing in her individuality instead of feeling ashamed of it. I grabbed Sasha, said goodbye to Barbie, and thanked her for the memories. Then, I immersed myself in the world of Bratz.
Sasha was my gateway to the Bratz universe: I collected many versions of her, along with Cloe, Yasmin, and Jade, the other original Bratz dolls. I watched Bratz movies like Bratz: Rock Angelz (2005), Bratz Passion 4 Fashion – Diamondz (2006), and Bratz Girlz Really Rock (2008). I even had a Bratz TV. One of my guilty pleasures was ordering PC and GameCube games online without my parents’ permission, which I justified by wanting a game that was meant for me. Even though I did enjoy playing video games with my brothers, I was tired of always watching them play Mortal Kombat or Soul-Kaliber.
Bratz impacted a generation of kids who are now adults, offering them an alternative way of self-expression and an ever-growing world to escape into. In the past couple of years, the brand has experienced a resurgence — in 2021, the company launched its 20th-anniversary collection, bringing back the iconic original versions of Sasha, Jade, Cloe, and Yasmin. The latest iteration of that regrowth comes with a brand new Bratz game, Flaunt Your Fashion, out November 4, 2022. The Girls with the Passion for Fashion live on, as do the fans who grew up with them.
Years ago, I found my place in the Bratz Rock Angelz (2005) PC game, where I explored the fictional town of Stylesville and performed simple objectives like shopping for wardrobes, taking photos, and organizing magazine layouts. Rewatching the gameplay as a 22-year-old makes me realize part of the gameplay I thought was fun, playing as Jade and interning at Your Thing magazine, was actually a very toxic work environment run by Burdine Maxwell. After three hours of interning, Maxwell fires Jade, and the Bratz girls excitedly decide to create their fashion magazine. The game left an impression on me, showing me that I could create my own space and opportunities when things don’t go according to plan.
Now, I can do it all over again. Video game publisher Outright Games shared that the game will follow Yasmin, Chloe, Jade, and Sasha as they pursue a career in fashion media. A trailer shows the Bratz girls playing stylist, attending fashion shows, interviewing characters for the fictional Bratz Magazine, and competing in photography challenges, all objectives reminiscent of past Bratz games. Could Flaunt Your Fashion tie together everything that made the Bratz games and cartoon movies so enjoyable? What is the legacy of this franchise, and what makes Bratz more relevant than ever in 2022?
The Nostalgic Sounds of the Bratz Universe
The Bratz soundtracks are outstanding. Even if you do not recognize the artist’s name or song title, hearing any of the songs will bring back a flood of memories if you are a Bratz fan.