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Did the Barbie Doll Finally Go Too Far?

Did the Barbie Doll Finally Go Too Far?

Barbie is 50 years old this year (which means she’s turning 21 again in doll years), and to celebrate, she’s doing something a little different.  She’s putting on MORE clothes, and a lot of people are unhappy.It’s Barbie in a burka, as it’s been dubbed by the yellow press.

Wearing the traditional Islamic dress with a mesh eyehole, she went under the hammer along with 500 other Barbie dolls dressed in unique outfits at an auction in Florence, Italy, at the renowned auction house Sotheby’s to raise funds for Save the Children. 

The auction, held in late November, was part of the celebrations put on for Barbie this year as she celebrated her 50th anniversary.

The doll has started a feud between those who think it is important for every girl, regardless of her cultural background, to feel that she can have a doll that represents her, the the other camp, who feel that the doll is a “’mockery of disempowered women’ who…have been ‘stripped of human dignity.’”

Is dressing Barbie up in what many consider to be the symbol of oppression of women in the Muslim world justified by the idea that every girl deserves to have a Barbie that “looks like me?”  Perhaps.  But I’ve noticed no one seems to use that as a reason to, say, make a doll with a little more realistic proportions.

Maybe when she turns 100.

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143 comments

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2:39PM PST on Jan 28, 2010

I went to the Middle East over Christmas and I was told by friends who live and work in Saudi, that Barbie is banned there, because men find the doll to be too erotic. You heard me right, that is grown men, who find a doll to be erotic, because it shows more skin, fake skin, than any woman they see on the streets. If they made a black Barbie doll, whatever her name is, why can't they make a Barabie for every culture. You might think it is against women's rights to wear the burka, but it is their religion. What if I started that circumcision is against men's rights? How awful it is to have that done.

12:30PM PST on Jan 5, 2010

Hummm... ??

1:44AM PST on Jan 2, 2010

i agree w/ abby

11:17AM PST on Dec 30, 2009

Let Barbie be Barbie.....

5:33PM PST on Dec 29, 2009

While many of us might have reservations about Barbie (the clothes, the figure), children in the United States and elsewhere are being fed an image of the west as a cultural mesh; a non-discriminatory Mattel-land of high heels & mini skirts. Let's face it. We're different. We come from different backgrounds and wear different clothing. But hey, most of the time we do exist quite peacefully. Shouldn't an AMERICAN toy be representative of the global AMERICAN perspective? There are serious women's rights abuses that need to be addressed, but the hijab isn't always reflective of abuse, oppression, etc. Shouldn't Muslim children have a representative role model? Is a blonde, blue-eyed "American" doll all they're going to look up to?

9:38AM PST on Dec 25, 2009

Barbie just won't go away. Her unrealistic proportions give girls a body complex before they even have a woman's body. Having said that, I had Barbies, and I loved them. Not saying they didn't warp my little mind, but as long as she is around, she might as well represent a diversity of cultures. She's alread a tool of oppression for women, but girls still love her.

11:43PM PST on Dec 24, 2009

"Muslim people wear BURKAS!!!"

Technically it's the hijab, but the burkha is a form of hijab.

11:41PM PST on Dec 24, 2009

I have mixed feelings on this. On one side I think it's good that Barbie is involved with every culture in the world, because all girls are different so all dolls should be different to represent each girl. On the other side, I'm not so keen because the burkha has been associated with oppression and violence against women, in addition it basically hides the women's identity. It's like, how do you really know that it's a woman under there? Why should girls feel good about themselves but also have to hide themselves at the same time?

7:47PM PST on Dec 24, 2009

I think Barbi should be every woman of the world

10:13AM PST on Dec 24, 2009

To Daniel W: To anyone who thinks being "liberal" means saying "all cultures are equal" doesn't know what progressive minded people believe.
I (and others who think like me) don't feel all cultures are equal, we are simply against the kind of "xenophobia" we see and hear so much of (xenophobia means fear of strangers). Some cultures are thousands of years old and have deep seated traditions that we are in no position to judge. We are not the world's judge, policeman or arbiter-we americans have been taught since kindergarten that we are the "best", our culture is the only one worth reading about, the only one worth emulating. Most kids in High School today can't find Nicaragua on a map (or Iraq either).
We need to learn tolerance. That's the operative word: tolerance. We are NOT better than every other country on earth (why do we have so many homeless people?) and in some cases we are worse (why do we still have the death penalty when only Iran and North Korea and some African countries are the only ones that also have it)?
Maybe WE are the barbarians!

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