Encouraging Creative Expression…with Barbie!

24 Oct

Barbie has been given a controversial  contemporary overhaul in a new limited edition doll released by Mattel.

As you can see from the picture below, the doll itself does not form what can be called your ‘stereo-typical’ image of Barbie, and has consequently incited fresh complaints from parents claiming that her tattooed look will create the impression that tattoos are cool and  encourage children that is okay to have them.  However, with the doll and brand having evolved  over the fifty or so years that it has been running  in order to fit its own times, is it not time that Barbie had a more fresh and contemporary revamp? After all we now live in a time when creative expression is not only encouraged but exemplified in every one’s own style and fashion choices.

Tokidoki Barbie

Is it even right that these parents are complaining when a lot of the ‘real’ role models in their own children’s lives are celebrities with drug habits, unhealthy addictions, eccentric lifestyles and of course tattoo’s?

What this Barbie is, is essentially a product of this type of society.

Not so long ago, critics and parents were complaining of Barbie’s inaccurate bodily proportions and asserting that these would give young children (to which the doll is originally aimed) unnecessary body hang-ups and insecurities, if this is the case, why not just buy your child a different type of doll? As parent’s it is you I am afraid that is ultimately in control of what your child is exposed to and I know a lot of you parents have tattoo’s yourselves.

It is important to remember that Barbie does not just have an immature following but a mature adult following too. (Yes, people like myself) and by putting this contemporary design into a rather more top –of –the-price-range, limited edition doll, it is not really the immature market that are going to be purchasing or playing with this item is it? Therefore what are we complaining about?

Of course, if you’re a Barbie fan then you will know this is not the first case of an inking crisis for Barbie. In both 1999 and 2009 dolls were released by Mattel with removable sticker tattoos for the doll and it’s user. In 1999, the ‘Butterfly Art’ Barbie was withdrawn from sale in the US after complaints similar to the above. Conversely I simply think it’s a case of control and of course hypocrisy on the part of parents who sport their own inking’s and dye their own hair, perhaps the problem is a little closer to home than you think…

Mattel maintain that ‘ The doll gives girls a chance to express themselves and be creative’ and whilst back in my own day creative expression as a child was encouraged in drawing and making models with Play-Doh , I think what we really should be worried about here is that Mattel limited their market to just ‘girls’ in this statement.

In all seriousness though, what type of impression do we really think a busty, slim blonde doll will give to an eight year old girl or boy for that matter? Tattoo’s or no tattoo’s it is agreeable that Barbie has always been and will continue to be controversial. But perhaps it is time we started worrying about that Cactus-covered acquaintance of hers pictured above. With a name like ‘Bastardino’ I can’t see the controversy ending there.





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