A new collectors edition Barbie doll has tattoos. Her name is Tokidoki and she has short pink hair and tattoos all over her body.
Parents are not on board with this.
Says one mom, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for little girls to be having Barbies with tattoos all over.” Another says, “I think it sends all the wrong signals for young girls.” Doesn’t anyone see the absurdity here? A popular doll that boasts completely unrealistic and unattainable body proportions and influences the young girls who play with them everyday is all of a sudden inappropriate now that she has tattoos?
Oh bother. I’ve written about this before (here’s the link) but I’ll repeat it here. Activists and feminists have time and time again pointed out how damaging the Barbie doll can be to little girls who are developing ideas about what roles girls and women play in society. They are constantly bombarded with messages in the media showing them how girls are “supposed” to look and act, and Barbies, which are directly marketed to them, are certainly part of the problem. In 2007 a high school student named Galia Slayen created a life-size Barbie to show how terrible of an influence she is to young girls — many of whom already struggle with poor self-image and eating disorders. Galia produced the true-to-size doll for her school’s participation in National Eating Disorder Awareness Week:
She stands about six feet tall with a 39″ bust, 18″ waist, and 33″ hips. These are the supposed measurements of Barbie if she were a real person…
My Barbie’s role is simple. She grabs the attention of apathetic onlookers and makes them think and talk about an issue that thrives in silence. In the last four years, Barbie has surpassed my expectations, attracting attention and sparking conversation among listeners and readers across the nation…
During NEDAW, she reminds people that eating disorders and body image issues are serious and prevalent. Holding an awareness week in high school or college is just one way to get students to discuss these important issues. However, constant discussion and education is key to dealing with and overcoming eating disorders.
Despite her bizarre appearance, Barbie provides something that many advocacy efforts lack. She reminds of something we once loved, while showing us the absurdity of our obsession with perfection.
Says parent Latifa Zyne in an article on CBS Local’s NYC site, “Maybe if a little girl sees that she also wants a tattoo and I think it’s not good.” She’s right. If a little girl plays with a doll with tattoos she might grow up thinking tattoos are cool and that she wants some one day. That same little girl, however, could also grow up thinking that her Barbie’s tiny waist, large chest, absurdly long legs and lack of rib cage are how a woman is supposed to look. And that’s a real problem. Because, see, tattoos you can get, and tattoos you can remove. But body image issues are life long struggles for girls that are exacerbated by images of impossible perfection pumped out by magazines, movies and commercials.
So, no. A Barbie with tattoos is not going to fuck up your daughter for life. And let’s get real: if you’re considering spending $50 on a plastic doll for your daughter, a few tattoos are the least of your problems.
Let’s get this straightened out: a doll with a ridiculous and unrealistic body is just as dangerous as a doll with a ridiculous and unrealistic body and tattoos.
And on that note, Miss Representation airs TONIGHT on OWN Network (Oprah’s new channel)! It’s a powerful documentary by Jennifer Siebel-Newsom that exposes the damage that popular media is doing to girls, and explores the limited roles that are available to women in the public eye. It features people like Margaret Cho, Geena Davis, Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, and Rachel Maddow, as well as young girls who are greatly effected by these images. Check your local listings for air time, and visit http://www.missrepresentation.org to learn more about the film!