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The Gaslighting Done to Amina Mucciolo

Mixed with Black, White, Native American, Jewish and Asian ancestry, Koriander is not afraid to tackle issues of race in media.

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A rainbow in this cloud

Lisa Frank and MGA may seem like rivals in the doll aisle, but they actually have plenty in common.

Both captivated younger Millennials with a vast assortment of stylish school supplies, toys and fashion accessories for those who were too cool for Barbie but not old enough to stay up after midnight.

Both have caused controversy for depicting young girls - especially tweens - in inappropriately provocative ways, MGA with their questionable line of Bratz, Bratz Kidz and Bratz Babyz where little girls are seen in skimpy outfits, and their current line of L.O.L. Surprise dolls with color changing lingerie, and Lisa Frank with a surprise turn in the 2000s with a line of posters and products featuring tween girls in crop tops and low rise outfits. Both companies also have featured tween girls as wearing squeamish amounts of makeup and have done quite a bit of time walking the proverbial tightrope between innocence and smut peddling.

But one other thing they have in common is a beastly level of bullying leveraged against Amina Mucciolo, a style icon for the modern era who has been dazzling her followers for more than half a decade.

Half a decade? Yes. You may have just balked at that sentence, because if you believe the smear campaign of Lisa Frank, but more loudly MGA, you might have believed the lie that this is just some random fan girl on Twitter trying to hog a spotlight. Even the unicorns on a Lisa Frank folder aren't this far away from reality.

Using hand drawn art the old fashioned way, Amina Mucciolo and her husband Salvatore started Studio Mucci and Tasselfairy several years before you likely heard about their GoFundMe.

Amina was not an overnight starlet on your daughter's tablet. She got to where she is off of basic hard work after overcoming a suicide attempt, bulimia and bullying over her race. With carefully crafted artwork and a style she made all on her own, her image has attracted interviews with MTV, Allure, L.A. Weekly and a variety of other magazines throughout the 2010s and into the 2020s. Jessica Alba is a fan. Celebrities point to her Instagram. Amina is an icon taking the world by storm.

And that old school determination has irked major companies who are trying to profit off of the hard work of this homegrown mermaid.

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Lisa gotta have it

In May of 2017, Amina posted videos and pictures on her YouTube and Instagram accounts of her rainbow apartment, which she designed and built herself. The Today Show aired a few pictures, saying the apartment feels like spring all year round. Metro, Teen Vogue and many other news programs and magazines praised the DIY apartment, sharing the sugary hued home with people the world over. People loved the cloud covered oven, the candy colored cabinets and relished in the amount of care Amina put into every rainbow decoration.

Everyone wanted to go to Amina's Cloudland apartment.

And that included Lisa Frank.

In several now-deleted posts, Lisa Frank via Twitter praised the apartment, sharing article after article about Cloudland and even reaching out to Amina between 2017 and 2018.

So imagine her surprise when Amina finds out that Hotels.com has teamed up with Lisa Frank to open a pop up penthouse attraction, and early ticket buyers flood Twitter with pictures and videos, showing that Lisa Frank has lifted Amina's apartment, room for room.

Like a creepy stalker in a horror movie, Lisa Frank has copied every detail, even coloring the cabinets in the same color pattern as Amina's DIY kitchen and arranging their own plush dolls in the exact same way.

More creepy? The apartment is directly across the street from Amina. So every morning after they invited her to "see how it's supposed to be done" when she opens her window, she has to see a mirror copy of her own home she designed.

As if this wasn't enough, despite paying her rent on time and in full, her landlord suddenly refuses her rent payment, as if her American currency isn't good enough.

The reason?

The neighborhood is being gentrified, and she and other tenants are facing eviction, because "their look" doesn't fit the smoothed out, manufactured look Lisa Frank wants around their attraction.

An attraction based on a Black woman's home.

When confronted about their theft and the creepy levels of corporate stalking this had to take, Lisa Frank initially dodged questions for an entire year, before resulting to name calling, accusing Amina of being "opportunistic" of "using their fame" to deflect attention away from "her own failures" it a blatant smear campaign meant to gaslight the women they stole the identity of.

And a rival company decided to join in on the fun.

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A stolen surprise.

As if finding out that a major childhood staple is stalking you and trying to run you out of your own home wasn't enough of a nightmare, imagine finding out another toy company has stolen your image and is using it on a doll meant to mock you?

In June of 2019, parents and doll collectors alike alerted Amina to the fact that MGA had stolen photos of her and made an L.O.L. Surprise doll in her likeness.

Rainbow Raver with her pink, bubble lips, sports the exact same mint and teal pigtails with rainbow braids that Amina had already been sporting on Instagram for nearly two years at the time the doll had come out.

Amina had already been seen on nationwide television with these locks. Everyone knew Raver had lifted Amina's image, but MGA like rival Lisa Frank, was dodging questions.

And why not? At the same time the Rainbow Raver doll was hitting shelves, MGA was already under fire for Raver's friends, as a bulk of the L.O.L. dolls were alarming parents. A quick search on YouTube will produce dozens of videos of parents showing the dolls in color changing lingerie and bondage gear with anatomically correct body parts.

The theft of Amina's looks was only one in a long line of doll controversies going back to 2000, which also includes lines of Bratz dolls with age inappropriate clothing, dolls with giant, peachy bubble lips like a racist 1940s caricature, dolls of adult Bratz men being paired up with tween age dolls as boyfriends, vapid cartoons with jokes about bulimia and using men for cash and a whole assortment of toys aimed at very young girls with adult themes.

It makes sense that a company with such a sordid past would resort to theft to sell a doll line.

A timeline of the doll's design was plastered on MGA's Instagram in a post that only served to solidify the accusations.

A full year after the allegations came out, MGA's founder decided to harass, threaten and slander Amina in a series of now deleted tweets, calling her a "disgrace" simply for speaking up about this company having stolen her image.

And to make things even more twisted, both MGA and Lisa Frank chose to make their statements slandering Amina during the Black Lives Matters protests, taking the gaslighting against this woman to an astonishing low.

Both of these companies now face a day of reckoning not just in court, but also with their fans who feel disgusted in having grown up loving establishments that have mimicked, mocked and profited off of ethnic women for two decades.

Amina's life is not here for them to trademark.

© 2021 Koriander Bullard

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