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Daily Rant: I Hate Barbie

by Melissa Silverstein
April 10, 2012 11:10 AM
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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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  • 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:

  • 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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