It is claimed that it is against the law to sell dolls that do not have human faces in France.

It is illegal to sell an ET doll in France. They have a law forbidding the sale of dolls that do not have human faces.


France, which is a country that is known for creating some of the most lovely porcelain dolls in the world, has a strict law involving the creation and sale of dolls. All over the country, it is illegal to sell dolls that do not have human faces. This means that if dolls have human bodies, their faces must also be easily recognized as humans. As a result, you will never see a doll in France that looks like an alien or other kind of non-human creature. No matter the shop, any dolls that are sold must have faces that are human.


Is this true?

  • 3
    I wonder if this is a confusion about the definitions of "dolls" versus "toys", a.l.a. Toy Biz v. United States where there was a dispute whether X-men "dolls" were dolls or toys and therefore subject to different tariffs.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 4:25
  • 3
    Yes, for example somewhere it might say, "The law says that dolls must have a human face -- because otherwise they are 'toys' not 'dolls'".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 11:49
  • 1
    @Oddthinking I did find a regulation about toy safety controls which had an exception for products not intended for children, an example being “folkloric and decorative dolls”. So French legal terminology seems to classify dolls as toys by default. Nothing about the humanoidity of the face. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 21:27
  • By the way, one French website that collects such “strange laws” rendered it as “it is illegal to sell dolls that do have human faces”. Oops. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 21:34
  • There are many lists of "weird laws" on the internet, but I have yet to find a list with references to the actual laws they claim to quote. Even in the list linked to in the question, there are IMHO far stranger laws than this one with the French dolls. A very few lists actually add some background context, putting the laws in an understandable context, but does anyone know of there perhaps is a more comprehensive explanation of more of these weird laws somewhere? Why should it e.g. be illegal to carry an unwrapped Ukulele in Salt Lake City? Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 12:53

1 Answer 1


Here's an ET doll being sold on a French web site:


enter image description here

Maybe that doesn't cont as a "human" body, but whatever. I Googled for for poupee+stroumph and found them being sold on ebay.fr

enter image description here

IMO this shows that if there is such a law, it's not enforced.

There's this comment on a straightdope user forum:

Good suggestion, A Monkey With a Gun. It prompted me to do some googling. The first thing I found was actually a Canadian proposal (http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/1/parlbus/chambus/house/bills/private/C-374/C-374_1/361282bF.html) for a law making it an offense to sell a doll (poupée) with the encouragment to have it suffer degrading treatment. The explanation (http://www.parl.gc.ca/36/1/parlbus/chambus/house/debates/220_1999-05-03/han220_1105-f.htm) mentions:

Pourquoi a-t-on mis le mot «poupée» dans ce projet de loi? C'est parce que les mots ont un sens dans notre langue. En français, le mot «poupée» veut dire tout objet ayant une forme humaine.

Why is the word 'doll' used in this proposal? It is because words have a meaning in our language. In french, the word 'doll' (poupée) means an object having a human form.

This seems to confirm your suspicion.

Then I checked Legifrance (http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/html/index.html), which should contain all French laws. The search function only got me one law, the 'Arrêté 06 juillet 1995', listing movie titles, one of which was 'Maison de poupée' (Doll house).

Based on this, I do call bullshit, with the proviso that there may be a different regulationt that isn't law and/or isn't listed on Legifrance, or that the OP's source meant a different word (which would however be unlikely given the earlier Canadian quote).

I guess this is the best we can do at the moment, since it is hard to prove something doesn't exist. Maybe clairobscur, if he drops by, can enlighten us.

It suggests that perhaps there's a law which defines a doll as being "something with a human face".

The 3rd May 1999 edition of Hansard is where that legal definition was discussed in Canadian Parliament in French (in the context of a rejected law making it illegal to sell dolls towards which the buyers are encouraged to be cruel).

I confirm that my search for "poupée" on http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/initRechTexte.do using "Rechercher ces mots parmi les mots du texte (depuis 1990)" returns nothing -- or more precisely it returns 31 hits, none of which are related to the alleged law in question.

  • This one does say "Poupées représentant uniquement l'être humain" but what it's doing is saying that (among many other things) "dolls which represent humans" have a reduced tariff, in a trade agreement between Serbia and the EEC

  • This one says that "poupées" and "peluches" (i.e. "dolls" and "plush toys") are two of the types of thing made by the industry of games and toys.

  • Maybe internet laws are different? Maybe, it is meant that it is forbidden to sell in a physical shop.
    – ermanen
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 2:38
  • 1
    @ermanen Maybe it's fiction (or at best a misunderstanding). How do you expect to disprove it? A search for "poupée" on legifrance.gouv.fr returns nothing.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 2:50
  • Your answer is good. Just brainstorming. Maybe there is a related law as you mentioned also.
    – ermanen
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 2:52
  • There was a proposed Canadian law (in French), apparently. parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/… links to the text quoted above.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 14, 2014 at 2:58
  • 1
    @ChrisW So dolls get a different classification depending on whether they depict a human being or not in a law that implements a trade treaty with Serbia. That classification is probably reproduced from an earlier EU or EEC document. It would be very far fetched to reach the claim under discussion, but then all of these “strange laws” are far-fetched when their origin is known at all. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 21:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .