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Barbie Millicent Roberts is 52 years old. She still has the teeny tiny waist, the long legs, and the big boobs. Her smile is as energetic as ever and her eyes still as bright. But Barbie, much loved plaything of little girls all over the world, has had a makeover. Her blonde lengths have been chopped and dyed into a sugar pink bob, and her flawless skin has been decorated with beautiful tattoos. A mid-life crisis perhaps?
This little doll – Tokidoki Barbie – has parents up in arms. They don’t want their princesses playing with a doll with tattoos and pink hair. With her near-impossible to achieve proportions, setting unrealistically high examples of beauty for little girls and teaching them the best they can hope for is a Prince Ken, Princess Barbie is perfectly acceptable. Create a representation of an independent woman with her own sense of more alternative style, and Tokidoki Barbie is causing havoc.
Parents argue that the tattoos and the pink hair set a bad example. I’m sorry, but little girls have played with Barbie for 52 years – a doll that if she were a walking, talking, living doll, would lack the 17-22% body fat necessary to menstruate. Her body proportions are simply unhealthy, there’s no getting away from it. That is a bad example. And parents are worried about tattoos? Instead of being so concerned about aesthetics, mummies and daddies should be teaching their little girls that beauty is only skin deep. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. It’s also worth noting that she’s sold for the adult collector. She’s a collector’s item, not a toy.
Barbie’s constant reinventions of herself are of course to generate more sales. Sales are generated by appealing to the customer. Appealing to the customer makes use of inspiration from popular culture. Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattell, promotes Tokidoki Barbie as a ‘funky fashionista’. Little girls all over the world are singing Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Does that mean little girls are going to aspire to be carried around in an egg everywhere and walk around in catsuits?
Guess what grown-ups – children can think for themselves! Just because their dolly has pink hair doesn’t mean little girls are going to grow up to be covered in tattoos and piercings and a tendency to change their hair colour every week. Even if they did – it doesn’t mean they’re going to end up unemployed on drugs and turning to prostitution. Body art is not a direct route to the gutter.
How can these parents defend their ancient morals? Body art isn’t taboo anymore. It’s never really been taboo – In fact, around 25% of under 30’s have tattoos. It’s apparently just taboo for a Barbie doll. Parents seem to be forgetting – it is they who are bringing their daughters up, not Barbie.