New Tattooed Barbie Sparks Outrage with Parents

Who accuse manufacturer Mattel of “dumbing down”

By Elena Gorgan   April 30th, 2009 09:40 GMT
On the 50th anniversary, blonde doll Barbie and her brunette friend Nikki have gotten a makeover. However, unlike the one that implied being dressed by legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, this one has already gotten parents all up in arms, since it’s telling young girls that tattoos are cool and stylish, as the British tabloid The Sun sums it up.

The latest edition of Barbie dolls from toy maker Mattel is called “Barbie Totally Stylin,’” and comes with no less than 40 stick-on temporary tattoos that little girls can apply to the dolls to make them look more like their idols. Whereas this move could possibly prove successful with the girls, parents are not taking it that well, saying that Mattel is “dumbing down” by sending off the message that tattoos are cool and everyone should get one, the aforementioned publication claims.

Consequently, parents have already rallied up against Mattel, asking for the dolls to be pulled off the market. “Whatever will they bring out next? Drug addict Barbie? Alcoholic Barbie? Tattoos are common and if it leads girls to get one, they might regret it for the rest of their lives. It is dumbing right down – Barbie should be at the high end of fashion not the chav end.” one clearly upset parent tells The Sun.

Mattel, on its part, stands tall and argues that, far from making Barbie a chav, the tattoos will “update” her, upping her coolness factor by a lot thanks to the possibility of making it now look more like British pop stars, such as Jordan, Cheryl Cole and Amy Winehouse. But these three are far from being role models, no matter how much talent they may or may not have, parents insist, livid at the idea that their girls will now be able to stamp their Barbie with “The Stamp,” as the lower back tattoo is known, and that comes with Ken’s name.

Ed Mayo, chief executive of the watchdog Consumer Focus, agrees that tattoos on Barbie are too an inappropriate accessory. “A multi-million-pound industry is now targeting children and the cynic would say that Mattel is simply courting controversy in order to give Barbie more of an edge. There is always a fine line to draw with toys for young children, but my personal view is that this launch will make life harder for parents – including those that were once Barbie fans themselves.” Mayo says for the Daily Mail.

“Totally Stylin’” Barbie is now on sale in the UK for £13.50. Mattel’s previous attempt at launching one such tattooed doll ended in disaster in 1999, as it was forced to pull it off the shelves. A pregnant Barbie also stirred the same controversy, and was consequently taken off the market. 

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