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Daily Rant: I Hate Barbie

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by Melissa Silverstein
April 10, 2012 11:10 AM
7 Comments
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Katniss Barbie

I have to say that I am not surprised but am throughly disappointed that the news has come out that Barbie has created a Hunger Games inspired Katniss Everdeen doll.  It probably is a good business decision due to the tremendous box office, but it still sucks.

I know, I know.  There are many Barbie fans in the world.  I am not one of them.  Yes, Barbie does have many aspirational dolls.  There even is President Barbie.  There is also TV newscaster; vet; Soccer player; doctor.  There is even an Angela Merkel Barbie doll. 

But for every aspirational Barbie there is Ballerina Barbie; Barbie Tea Party Princess Doll; Barbie Royal Dress Up Doll; Beautiful Fairy Barbie Doll;  Princess Bride Doll; Beach Doll.

I hate that we need dolls for aspiration.  I hate that Barbies pervade our culture and that we get overwhelmingly excited when they create a non demeaning Barbie.  I just wish we didn't need these.  I wish that girls didn't get so freaked out with excitement about Barbie.  I wish that girls who hated Barbie were seen for their awesomeness instead of their otherness.  I wish that moms didn't have to fight to deal with the unrealistic body images when girls play with Barbies.

I will give them a couple of points for making Barbie look like Katniss in the actual games.  At least that's a powerful image.  But it still doesn't make it ok.

The Hunger Games: Mattel debuts Katniss Everdeen Barbie -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK (EW)

'Hunger Games': Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen Is No Barbie Doll - But She's About to Become One (HR)

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7 Comments

  • CJ | August 2, 2014 5:53 PMReply

    Not sure why a big deal has to be made over a toy. Whats wrong with a woman being a woman? Whats wrong with making Barbie be a Ballerina or at home drinking tea. You say you like that the Katniss doll portrays a powerful image for women. What message does that send to our young men? Its telling them that women are powerful and women are of equal strength of men. So guess what happens next these young men end up hitting women since they want to claim to be of equal strength and we have another Ray Rice situation. If women want to be equal then be equal across the board, not when its convent. The women who are crying about Ray Rice putting his hands on his wife, are the same ones saying that women are powerful and equal. Choose ONE, you can't have BOTH!

  • Chris | April 30, 2012 5:56 PMReply

    Since when is being a "ballerina" considered "demeaning"?? As a professional ballet dancer for 8 years, a student of the art for 26 years, and a successful IT Sales Operations Project Manager currently... I take a little offense.

  • Kate | April 15, 2012 12:36 AMReply

    I agree that there are some issues with Barbie, but I played with them every day as a child and never had any adverse effects. I never felt I had to dye my hair blonde or lose weight so I could look like her and I never felt limited because of all the girly options. Barbie was a wonderful tool for expressing my creativity and expressing my emotions. Not all girls who play with Barbies just use them for tea parties and beach parties: my Barbies went to war against each other, ruled kingdoms, and most importantly helped me work out my own problems through them. Barbie was a wonderful toy and a great friend; I can't imagine my childhood without all the wonderful stories I have created with her. Barbie is not going to badly effect children: their environment makes all the difference. Barbie allows kids to act-out different scenarios and learn. They don't look at a toy and think about the things adults think about - kids just want to play. Barbie is only a role model in absence of another one. Just let the doll be a doll, and the kids will be kids.

    A great article on Barbie that points out both sides: http://voices.yahoo.com/is-barbie-negative-model-girls-bad-toy-654012.html

  • J. C. Young | April 10, 2012 3:20 PMReply

    So, will there be other dolls with wounds?

    I find it curious that some may have an issue - considering the generations of action figures for boys, including the female ones that come with deadly weapons (G.I. Joe's crossbow-wielding Scarlet is a perfect example), but Mattel makes 1 Barbie with a bow... and watch out?

    Understandably, Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic setting, but even other tween products for things like Twilight and even Harry Potter are from world where the characters face very lethal threats.

  • Ashlie | April 10, 2012 1:32 PMReply

    It doesn't surprise me Barbie has decided to capitalize on this. Like you said, it will probably do wonders for the business. However, as I look at that image I'm more disturbed suddenly than I have been during all this Hunger Games hoopla about the bow and arrows she carries, and their representing something far greater than just a barbie doll. It goes back to what the Hunger Games are all about: children killing children for sport. You can debate for hours the justification for war, even how it's actually refreshing to see a strong female character in the midst of war depicted as something other than a sexual object for men, but on some levels it's still a story about kids hunting other kids, so what message does that send? And how does making a barbie doll out of it reflect that, if at all?

    Meh. Maybe I should stop wondering and just be thankful they kept her in pants and her tits aren't out on display.

  • candice frederick | April 10, 2012 12:12 PMReply

    I'm not sure if it's a matter of "needing" them, but it's nice to have a popular doll that a young girl may actually be able to relate to--be it by its skin color, "profession," "attitude," etc. i think they do more good than harm.

  • Linn | April 10, 2012 12:10 PMReply

    Melissa, I agree with you on everything but one point. I hate Barbies, too, and I barely played with them when I was little because they bored me, I prefered racing matchbox cars. BUT when you discuss the non-useful Barbies, I need to point out that "Ballerina Barbie" is a real career. The rest of those dolls in that list are not real jobs. And in case you've never taken a ballet class (I have studied it for 35 years) it's HARD. Not for the faint of heart. Just something to consider. :) Thanks for all your hard work!

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