If Bratz dolls–pubescent Barbies dressed for an afterparty in Vegas–seemed a little sad in their 2007 heyday, imagine how they look piled up in thrift shop bins. One woman couldn’t take regularly seeing them in such a state, and decided to do something about it.
Illustrator and scientist Sonia Singh was a casualty of a huge round of lay-offs at Australia’s CSIRO last fall. After seeing so many discarded Bratz dolls in shops around her town of Hobart, Singh decided to take on a project she called Tree Change Dolls. It’s a full-on rehabilitation program for wayward dolls–at once repurposing them as new, less sexualized dolls to give to children, and at the same time commenting on a culture that would inspire/demand those dolls in the first place.
Sonia bought up all the older and used dolls she could find and began refurbishing them. In a process she’s keeping somewhat mysterious, she removes the makeup–think blue raccoon eyes and a bright red duckface pout–as well as the form-fitting clothes and high heels. As she told radio station 936 ABC Hobart, for some dolls the severe makeup features are molded into the plastic more than others, making the “makeunder” process more difficult. While Singh enjoys repainting the dolls’ faces, her mother knits modest sweaters and floral print dresses for them.
Although pictures of the Tree Change Dolls surfaced online only a week ago, the creator has said she’s been flooded with immediate interest from all around the world. So far, Singh has only made a dozen of the dolls, but she’s planning on opening up an Etsy shop soon. Until then, have a look at more images of these dolls in the slides above.