THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Dolls resembling daughters displease first lady

By Mark Leibovich
New York Times / January 25, 2009
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WASHINGTON - 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, Ill., that makes the dolls said yes and no.

"They are beautiful names," Tania Lundeen, a spokeswoman for Ty, told the Associated Press. 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 the names, Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia are slender brown-skinned, brown-eyed dolls that bear a resemblance to the 7- and 10-year-old sisters who just moved into the White House?

"It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls," Lundeen told the AP.

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 yesterday.

The first lady's office declined to comment further. A representative for Ty could not be reached late yesterday.

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