Controverisal Barbie Dolls - From Boob Jobs to Tramp Stamps!
As a young girl there was no greater joy than visiting my best friend. We would spend entire summer afternoons playing with our dolls. Our favorite was a Barbie knock-off named Lindsey, who boasted similar measurements. It seemed each Christmas we'd find new accessories in our stockings, and one year my grandma painstakingly sewed a whole wardrobe out of outdated clothes stored in her attic -- complete with tiny zippers and snaps in all the right places. Fortunately we never tried looking like Barbie in real life, and somehow the controversial Barbies below never made it into our collections.
Barbie: The (Not So) Perfect Woman
One of the biggest controversial points made about Barbie is her unrealistic body image. Her measurements are 39-18-33. In April, 2011 one high school student created a life-sized Barbie with these measurements for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and later blogged about it on the Huffington Post.
"Barbie represented beauty, perfection and the ideal for young girls around the world. At least, as a seven-year-old, that is what she was to me," blogged Galia Slayen.
This misconception stayed with her as she grew into teenage years, especially as a high school cheerleader. Frustrated with the pressure to look and act a certain way, she gave up her position on the squad and turned the energy into a way to use her own life experiences as a way to teach others -- and hopefully help to keep them from making the same mistakes. What she once saw as the perfect woman now serves as Slayen's tool for educating others about negative body images and eating disorders.
Boob Job Barbie
Tee-hee. She's not really called "Boob Job Barbie" but that's what she boils down to. Children lucky enough to own Growing Up Skipper could turn the doll's arm to watch her grow from a little kid to a graceful young woman -- complete with a woman-sized bosom. I can just picture it....
Barbie says, "Skipper, the boys would notice that new dress if your boobs were bigger." And Skipper replies, "A boob job? You'd have to twist my arm first!" Barbie gleefully says, "Okay!" and much to everyone's surprise, each time she twists Skipper's arms the young girls breasts go up an entire cup size.
It probably didn't happen like that. But that's exactly how this doll works! It makes me wonder how many young girls owned this -- and how many of their brothers ended up sneaking off with it.
Amazing Race Barbies
As if the 60's weren't controversial enough, Mattel went and introduced a dark-skinned Barbie. Sadly, aside from her extreme tan she didn't look that much different than the original version. Even the "Black Barbie" introduced in 1980 had white features. A more recent version marketed as "So in Style" dolls supposedly create a more realistic appearance with appropriate features.
Other Barbies of a race other than Caucasian include (but certainly are not limited to) the following:
- Miko, from the Pacific Islands
- Christie, Barbie's first African-American friend
- Kira, an Asian version of Barbie
- Teresa, a Hispanic version of Barbie
- Cara, another of Barbie's African-American friends
- Celebrities M.C.Hammer and Diahann Carroll
Even though they didn't always hit the nail on the head, Mattel deserves an "A" for effort in their attempt to be proactive with race-themed toys.
Tramp Stamp Barbie
If boys can have a toy tattoo gun that slathers temporary tattoos all over their precocious little bodies, why can't girls do the same? Thanks to Mattel creating Totally Tattoos Barbie, they can! The doll was not only accompanied by her own tattoos, but also provided child-sized temporary body art. Having never owned one myself, I can't confirm if a tramp stamp was included for just the doll, or for both the doll and the lucky child who owned one. An overprotective group looking out for the rights of minors complained that playing with this version of Barbie might provoke children into wanting real tattoos. Personally, I don't see it happening.
There are many more versions of Barbie that created controversy throughout the years. A handicapped Barbie's wheelchair didn't fit in the Barbie house elevator. Folks feared video Barbie would encourage child porn. It's no wonder that Saudi Arabia outlawed the sale of all Barbie products, opting instead to promote a more modest line of dolls and accessories.
My favorite version of Barbie isn't controversial at all. (At least, I don't think it is!) It's the art teacher from the "I Can Be..." series. Please share your favorite version -- controversial or not -- in the comments below, and thanks for taking the time to read my article!