Mon, Jan 26, 2009 - Page 4 News List

First lady not amused at Ty Girlz collection dolls

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , WASHINGTON

Ty Girlz collection dolls, Sweet Sasha, left, and Marvelous Malia, sit on the counter at Lamont’s gift shop in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Chicago on Thursday.

PHOTO: AFP

The company that makes Beanie Babies has introduced two new dolls, named Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia.

Hey, wait a minute, aren’t Sasha and Malia the names of the Obama daughters? Yes.

Coincidence? Ty Inc, the company in Oak Brook, Illinois, that makes the dolls said yes and no.

“They are beautiful names,” Tania Lundeen, a spokeswoman for Ty, said in an interview.

But, “there’s nothing on the girls that refers to the Obama girls,” she said.

But what about the fact that in addition to sharing unusual names, Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia are slender brown-skinned and brown-eyed dolls that bear a resemblance to the seven and 10-year-old darlings who just moved into the White House?

“It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls,” Lundeen said.

But the first lady, Michelle Obama, who has publicly described her role as “mom in chief,” apparently was not amused.

“We feel it is inappropriate to use young, private citizens for marketing purposes,” Katie McCormick Lelyveld, Michelle Obama’s press secretary, said in a statement on Saturday.

The first lady’s office declined to comment further. A representative for Ty could not be reached late on Saturday.

Ty released the foot-tall (30.5cm) dolls as part of its TyGirlz Collection, and they are featured prominently on the company’s Web site. Sweet Sasha’s dark brown doll hair is twisted in braids, while Marvelous Malia’s is of similar length but pulled into a long ponytail over her left shoulder.

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