Monday, May 11, 2009

Leave it to Barbie

Barbie is getting hip. Or rather, she is getting something on her hip. In celebration of her 50th Birthday, Barbie has been given a tattoo.

Awww, how positively special. Who knew Mattel felt the need to start marketing "Trailer Trash Barbie"?

Apparently the dollmaker thinks this little addition will bring Barbie "up to date", promoting the new "Totally Tattoos" line of the iconic toy to little girls who can share in the fun of Barbie's temporary tats.

Now, quite honestly, I see nothing wrong with a temporary tattoo, or having your face painted at a carnival, or other little-girl entertainments like stick-on earrings and lipstick and plastic high heels. But is it really a good idea to provide sexy {heart} Ken stickers that are meant to be plastered to Barbie's backside?

It's, as my brother once pointed out, the difference between Disney's Ariel or Princess Jasmine and those "Bratz" dolls. We don't mind the fact that Ariel is swimming around in seashells or that Jasmine's whole middle is on display because the point of the dolls is not to encourage immodest and inappropriate behavior. On the other hand, that is the express purpose of "Bratz" dolls. Why do you think they are called "Bratz" after all?

A little washable heart tattoo is not going to warp a young girl for life (and neither is playing with Barbie, for that matter, regardless of what the body-image crowd may say). But it's the idealization of a reckless lifestyle and making tattoos look exciting and fun that bothers me. I don't want little girls to think getting a tattoo is a sign of maturity or intelligence. It seems to me that permanently inking oneself signifies exactly the opposite.

Barbie should steer clear of tattoos. (And so should everyone else, frankly. I don't care if they are pictures of cuddly little bunnies or hearts with "MOM" emblazoned in the middle. They look ridiculous, they could damage your career aspirations, and they will not seem so totally awesome when you are thirty-five and coming off your third c-section).

But I guess I should just be grateful that Mattel hasn't come out with "Teen Pregnancy Barbie" or "Hangover Barbie".

Then again, give them a few more years and they might.

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