Barbie is a little more badass these days.
A $50 limited-edition Barbie, tokidoki Barbie, has caused some anger among parents for promoting positive images of tattooed women, apparently. Well, I guess kids have to learn at some point that they’ll be judged for their looks! Right?
In addition to her Manga-inspired tattoos, tokidoki Barbie has leopard-print leggings, a sweater sporting a skull and crossbones, a pink pleather-looking skirt, platinum-pink hair, and a really awesome dog in a dragon costume covered in sharp spikes. Or something. I think the dog might be my favorite part, actually, although he probably shouldn’t heel too close to Barbie unless she wants her leggings shredded to smithereens. Or maybe you’re supposed to use the dog to shred her leggings to smithereens! It’s all part of the marketing! Barbie’s dog Spike can be used to give Barbie’s outfit even MORE badass street cred!
Those who appreciate tokidoki Barbie’s style argue that the doll promotes acceptance of different conceptions of beauty and sartorial choices. One commentator on Ms. Twixt, a parenting website, wrote “Good for you Mattel for making a doll a little more like the rest of us. I consider it a tiny step in the right direction.” If more of us had humanly-impossible body proportions, sure, sure. Like the rest of us.
Others weren’t quite as pleased, as another person wrote, “Encouraging children that tattoos are cool is wrong, wrong, wrong. Mattel why not put a cigarette and a beer bottle in her hand while you’re at it!”
Of course, aside from that minor issue, a larger problem is that despite the outcry, this isn’t really being marketed to children. It’s a collector’s item, the kind that remain hermetically sealed in their boxes for maximum appreciation on investment. In fact, one comment on the Ms. Twixt website wrote “there was a barbie in the early 1990s that had a butterfly tattoo on her belly. they discontinued it bc of back lash. I have the doll as a collector. Its worth a lot now.” Maybe this could be not so much a lesson about acceptance and more about ROIs.