This topic has been gnawing away at me for the past few weeks. I know it's not about make-up, but it's about Barbie and I can't think of much that's more glam than that.
Recently, the Tokidoki Barbie was launched. I know BarbieCollector.com had had photos up for a few months prior to the release, so it was no big deal for me. Well, that is until I started hearing about the backlash over the doll. People are worried that we, as a society, have lost our way. Is Barbie having a midlife crisis? Her hair is pink! I've never seen that before! And tattoos!?!?! Shocking!!
But did you know that this is NOT the first Barbie to have pink hair OR tattoos? It's been going on for years. If people actually paid attention and didn't just jump on the hot-topic-of-the-moment-bandwagon, they would know this.
Way before Tokidoki, Barbies had tattoos. While researching for this blog, I discovered that the 1st edition, Generation Girl Barbie from 1999 had a heart tattoo on her ankle! And it was brought to my attention (thank you Kat Thompson) that there was the line of Butterfly Art Barbies released in 1998 and were apparently recalled very shortly after parents began to complain. Then there were the annual Hard Rock Cafe dolls. They were rock 'n roll all the way, their hair, their clothes and yes...their tattoos. (Please note, the 2008 doll does not have tattoos, but she does have questionable hair.) A couple of them have shoulder tattoos that are kind of large. One of them has a sleeve, another has a skull and crossbones and yet another has a barbed wire bracelet going around her upper arm. That one's pretty funny because it is so cliche! And what other famous person has an identical, albeit crooked, tattoo? Pamela Anderson. So do you think there is a subliminal message to kids about being like Pamela Anderson? If you said yes, you have bigger problems than this doll. You should be wondering why your kid knows who Pamela Anderson is. In more recent history, there's the Jacob Black doll inspired by the Twilight films and he bears his werewolf tribe's symbol on his upper arm. Oh and he's not wearing a shirt because when he becomes a werewolf all of his clothes are ripped off and he only carries spare shoes and shorts with him. Don't you think that's offensive too?
Pink hair has been around for years too. As a collector, I have a few dolls with pink hair. There were the Fashion Fever Barbies that were released around 2004. One had pink hair, that was cut long in the back and shorter in the front, not a mullet, but it looks like a bob in the front. She was also wearing a cheongsam dress/long tunic with jeans and platform shoes! Was she crazy?!?! Pants and a dress!?!?! Who does that?
Jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino helped design a Barbie bearing her name. Ms. Tarantino has pink hair, so naturally, her doll does too. (Please don't let the rainbow of hair colors below completely send you into a state of shock, Barbie's alternative ways are not limited to pink hair alone. OMG, green dreads!! AAAHHH!!!**with Muppet arms flailing wildly**)
Last but not least, the final pink-haired Barbie I'd like to discuss is based on the character who may have started the whole pink hair trend...Frenchie from Grease. There is a Frenchie doll with pink hair. But the character was so cute and sweet in Grease, I guess no one had a problem with it. If I were a nit-picking, whiner and complainer, I'd be more worried that Frenchie dropped out of high school AND beauty school! And while we're on the Grease dolls, let's discuss a couple of other things. There's a Marty doll, but wasn't she the tart who was coming onto the much older TV show host? There are at least 4 Sandy dolls, so pure and sweet, except for the post-makeover, bad girl Sandy. Oooh, what is that teaching kids? Dress like a hooker and you'll keep your man? Sheesh. Then there's Cha Cha, and she was just a mean, badass. Who wants a doll of a mean, badass? And we can't talk Grease without having Rizzo, the picture of grace and charm. Do you really want your kid to have a doll that promotes unprotected sex? I don't want my kid to get knocked up because there's a Barbie based on a character who thought she was! (And for those of you are hardcore Grease fans, have you ever listened to the words to "Greased Lightning"? YOU must be a terrible influence for exposing your kids to such filth! "You know that I ain't braggin', she's a real pussy wagon - greased lightnin'")
But that's not even the worst of it!! Tattoos, pink hair...these things don't compare to PIERCINGS!!! When the first Generation Girl Barbies came out in 1999, Chelsea had three earrings in one ear and only one in the other! And the most scandalous thing was that she had a nose ring!!! Gasp! Shock!! Horror!!! Apparently in the next edition, she only had one earring in each ear and the nose ring, but in the 3rd edition she had neither earrings or a nose ring. SEE, this just proves to all the naysayers that Mattel will sanitize it's products if you make a big enough fuss. But it's short-lived because the 2004 Hard Rock Cafe Barbie had a nose ring.
Another instance where Mattel self-censored for that part of society who doesn't understand that some of their dolls are for COLLECTORS ONLY would be the Farrah Fawcett doll. Take a look at the photo below and see if you can spot the difference, beyond the obvious mediocre likeness.
Did you find what makes one of these things not like the other? It's the thing(s) that made this poster so controversial. NIPPLES! See, if Mattel wanted to stick to historical accuracy, the doll would have nipples. Obviously this is a collector's doll, what kid would want a doll who can only sit, frozen in one position? Kinda limits the Barbie story lines that run through a girl's head. But because people are so freaked out by their own bodies and nipples are considered taboo, the doll is historically inaccurate. That should make you feel better. Happy?
At this point, I am not happy. It really bothers me how people are so quick to vilify something they have no idea about. It just perpetuates the notion that people are superficial and only care about what's on the surface of something. But only sometimes, right? There are the double-standards like tattoos being manly on men and trashy on women. Perhaps that's why there was no hoopla over the Jacob from Twilight doll. It's ignorance. It would only take a little bit of research to discover that other dolls have had all the things people are bitching and moaning about with the Tokidoki doll. But if we're going to get our knickers in a twist, then let's take a look at some other Mattel dolls from the past.
Totally Stylin' Tattoo Barbie came out a couple of years ago for Christmas. I know because my daughter wanted one. Basically, it has the water-transfer tattoos that you can use on Barbie's clothing or your skin. It also comes with a "gun" that holds the transfer in place and douses the back of the tattoo with water. Where were you whiners back then!?!?! See, I lead by example and rather than expecting the world to sanitize itself so I don't have to do my job as a parent, I simply stepped up and said NO to my daughter. And I didn't buy it. The end. It's just that easy, it really is.
Remember back when Cher had the "Turn Back Time" video and there was a huge uproar because she was wearing what was essentially a body stocking with some strategically places black strips of fabric? Oh, and don't forget that she's straddling stuff and fraternizing with sailors and acting in a way that's unbecoming of a respectable woman? Mattel made a doll of that too. Be sure to check out the doll with the throwback costume that pays homage to the "Half Breed" TV performance she did in the '70s. The sides are cut to where!!!???? Shocking. And I suppose if you really wanted to split hairs about whether Cher is a role model or not, you could delve into Cher's past and instead of looking at how she's overcome so many adversities, you could dwell on her romances, addictions, having a transgender child, etc.
These dolls were just recently released. One is Barbie dressed as Sinatra, the other is Barbie's take on Elvis. IF we were looking at these outside the realm of quirky collector's dolls, what message are these sending out kids? Is it saying it's okay to cross-dress? Is it acceptable to get famous, do tons of drugs, eat horrible foods and expire in the loo? (And I know I have simplified these things, but this is how ignorant people think, forget the stories that lay below the surface.)
It sounds crazy, doesn't it? Of course, I'm being facetious throughout this whole blog. But some people really think like this. And that scares me. Barbie is a doll. That is it. She is plastic, has sparkly and shiny things and has pretty hair to style. That's it. At least, that's the way I saw her as a child. I never considered her to be a role model. People are role models, not dolls. Parents should be role models. Don't expect the world to make itself a place where you can do nothing and "raise" (I use that term loosely when referring to these types of people) your child without something questionable popping up. That's what parenting is...being active in your child's life and aware of what they are exposed to. The fact is people are lazy, too lazy to monitor what goes on around them. Yet let them catch wind of something as ridiculous as a pink-haired doll with tattoos and watch them go wild! Imagine how much worse it would be if these people got hip and educated themselves!
The bottom line is Barbie is a plastic doll. Bratz dolls are even scarier and have a body type that is insanely unlike anything a human could ever have. The Monster High dolls are fashionable MONSTERS!! But what does this really matter when we are talking about kids, pretending to play, with TOYS!!?? It's pretend, not real. Give your kids some credit. I'm willing to bet they know the difference.
***Again, I would like to point out that this "hot topic" is moot since the doll is sold as a collector's doll, intended for adults. Most of the dolls mentioned in this blog are not intended for children either. The exceptions would be the Butterfly Art dolls, Fashion Fever dolls, the Generation Girl dolls and the Totally Stylin' Tattoo Barbie. I am solely discussing it to shed some light and provide new insight for those who don't know any better.***