Gali Girls ad promotes questionable "Jewish values"
The creators of the Gali Girls Chanukah video want you to think it's funny. (It actually says "It's Funny" on the website next to the video.)
The cartoon opens with a little girl in a pink midriff top and short pants, wearing make-up and playing with what I gather are supposed to be Barbie dolls. "I want to be just like you," the little girl says, eliciting a gasp for her stereotypical Jewish grandmother, who bemoans the unlikelihood that her granddaughter will grow up with "strong Jewish values" if she keeps playing with these "trashy, scantily clad" (voice of the announcer) dolls.
Gali Girls, which closely resemble the American Girl dolls, are "beautiful," "kind and compassionate" "vibrant," and most importantly, modestly dressed, "not like those other dolls." (When I looked at the outfits sold on the website, I found two that involved pants, all the rest were composed of skirts. There's also a "Sabbath bride" dress, which is frankly creepy. It looks like an actual bridal gown.)
At the end of the advertisement, the once skimpily dressed little girl has transformed into one who wears long sleeved shirts, long skirts (like all the Jewish women in the video) and lights Shabbat candles. Each Gali Girls comes with a Shabbat kit. This, and their modest clothing, are part of the Jewish values that the video assures you will be absorbed by those who play with them.
The Barbie franchise is problematic, to say the least. Her body is unachieveable, the race politics around her are deplorable, and after all this time, Ken is still anatomically incorrect. On the other hand, you know what Barbie has that the Gali Girls don't? Endless possibilities. She's been an astronaut, a rock star, a doctor, a viking princess (I checked the Barbie collector website, it's a thing), a figure skater, and a million other things. She can do and be all these things and still wear whatever she wants. (Barbie was also created by Ruth Mosko Handler, a Jewish woman.)
The truth is, even if we’re talking about a more nefarious doll, like one from the Bratz collection, perpetuating the idea that the way a woman dresses means she shouldn’t be taken seriously, or that she deserves to be ridiculed, discarded or harmed is misogyny at its worst. The Gali Girls are supposed to inspire pride in Jewish girls, but the foundation of this pride is the devaluing of other women and girls who do not look and dress like them. ("What do Gali Girls got that we don't got?" wonder the other dolls after they’ve been abandoned for the supposedly more morally upstanding ones. “Uh, clothes?” says the teddy bear in the corner.)
Surely there’s a better way to sell Jewish values, since apparently, we have to be in the business of selling them. Gali Girls come with a Shabbat kit, but what if she came with a book or a protest sign or a tool box? What if her Jewish identity was built on something besides the value of being modest? What if what made her Jewish was not the way she dressed, or her frumkeit, but the story and the identity that a girl gave to her? Indulge me, here. What if she could be anyone she wanted?
How to cite this page
Dubofsky, Chanel. "Gali Girls ad promotes questionable "Jewish values"." 23 December 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 30, 2015) <http://jwa.org/blog/gali-girls-ad-promotes-questionable-jewish-values>.