Barbie Has an Image Problem
Most pre-teens feel it’s “cool” to torture the doll
Originally uploaded by death is a picnic.
Girls aged seven to 11 seem to have particular venom for Barbie, but is hasn’t seemed to harm the sales of the doll.
In a study conducted by academics at the University of Bath’s school of management girls and boys reserve a special hatred for Barbie.
“Actual physical violence and torture towards the doll was repeatedly reported, quite gleefully, across age, school and gender,” said Dr Agnes Nairn, who led the research.
“The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving,” she added.
Analysis of the children’s comments indicate that Barbie is hated because she is ‘babyish’, ‘unfashionable’, ‘plastic’, has multiple selves and because she is a feminine icon.
“Whilst for an adult the delight the child felt in breaking, mutilating and torturing their dolls is deeply disturbing, from the child’s point of view they were simply being imaginative in disposing of an excessive commodity in the same way as one might crush cans for recycling,” said Nairn.
All I can say about the study is that Matel obviously knows how to make money and Barbie is at the top of the heap as a money-maker.
They also protect their brands.
I once got a call (the week before Christmas in fact) from a Matel lawyer to find out if the manufactured housing industry had been “harmed” by a Barbie that had been dressed in a skimpy outfit, had a baby and a cigarette in her ring hole.
The doll was named “Trailer Trash Barbie” and the caption “My Daddy says I am a great kisser” was printed on the box.
They were going after the person who was selling the illicit Barbie. After the call, I prayed I would never be called as a witness in for that trial.
And for the record, I think I did pop the heads off of most of my Barbie dolls. The ones I didn’t, my brother finished off for me.