Barbie, the figurehead of the brand Mattel Dolls and Accessories, has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for fifty years, and has been the subject of numerous controversies and lawsuits, often involving parody of the doll and her lifestyle.
Here is the latest one. Mattel and Italy-based brand Tokidoki has launched a limited edition of the doll, which comes with tattoos across her left arm, neck and chest, something that has apparently prompted an outrage among parents.
A report in the Daily Mail suggests that angry parents are negatively commenting on the product. Daily Mail Web site quoted a commentator as saying, '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!'
The tattooed doll that is marketed at a $50 price tag sports a pink bob, leopard print leggings, a dog called 'Bastardino' and tattoos.
We do not know for sure if there are really such outraged parents out there or if they are the products of media fabrication. But the question is that even if they are indeed angry, is it really that big a deal?
Another commentator quoted by the report said: 'I think it is horrible and sends the wrong message to young people. In no way should a tattoo be honored. It is a lifetime brand which will fade and droop over time as the skin ages.'
And along with the tattooed babe comes her dog-like companion, named Bastardino.
Are tattoos really that bad an idea in comparison to the already controversy laden unrealistic body proportion of the doll? Can a small amount of blame for the anorexia-hit female population (including small children) be laid on this tiny role model doll that has been in the market since 1959?
On Barbie's official Web site, this new Tokidoki product has been described something like this: tokidoki® Barbie® doll is always ready for cutting-edge fashion! She pops on a pink miniskirt, logo leggings and black top with signature skull heart and bones, carries a large bag from the brand, then adds bracelets, a belt, and sky-high sparkly silvery shoes! This funky fashionista features trendy tattoos and a pink bob. With cactus friend, Bastardino, by her side, she's ready for fun in fashion-forward form!
If one has to go back to the story of the origin of the doll, one could see that Barbie is an adult. Ruth Handler watched her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls, and noticed that she often enjoyed giving them adult roles. At the time, most children's toy dolls were representations of infants. Realizing that there could be a gap in the market, Handler suggested the idea of an adult-bodied doll to her husband Elliot, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company.
So the point here to be made is that - Is it that bad to have an adult doll sport a tattoo when in reality, no one can stop their kids growing up seeing a lot of adults around them with various kinds of body arts?
Of course, it is not the first time that Barbie has been given tattoos. In 1999, Mattel's Butterfly Art Barbie was withdrawn from sale in the U.S. after parents complained. In 2009, the company released Totally Stylin' Tattoos Barbie with removable sticker tattoos and a 'tattoo gun' stamp. The company made good profit with the sales of this doll and refused to withdraw it from the market, in spite of public pressure. In a statement, it said: No intentions to discontinue the doll. The doll gives girls a chance to express themselves and be creative.
Deal or no deal, the limited edition of the doll is out in the market for sales and it's only with time and its sales that we will know the true public response for the fashionista tattooed doll.