Do Barbies have a pernicious influence on how little girls dress? Are they more responsible for the sexualisation of little girls than high street retailers?
Have you paid attention to what Barbie dolls look like lately?
No, me neither, until I saw several of them being played with by my adorable four-year-old granddaughter Sadie.
I concede that, even when my daughters (one of them Sadie's mother) were playing with Barbies 30 years ago, the plastic creatures were etiolated, distorted versions of femininity, but they at least looked fairly wholesome, and their clothes were princess costumes or tennis outfits, or impossible-to-put-on trousers and little shirts.
Not any more.The ones Sadie was playing with have big, tousled hair, exaggerated eye make-up and pouting mouths glossily painted hot pink.
Their clothes varied from a skimpy mini dress to a hot-pink crotch-length skirt plus plunge-neck top with silver straps, revealing most of this Barbie’s plastic “breasts”.
Sadie had them seated in a circle and was feeding them tea from little plastic cups. But they looked more like they were ready to glug down a Mojito and snort some coke before falling into a cab at 3am.
So, why is SoSensational exercised by this? Because these little plastic creatures are, inadvertently, fashion and lifestyle role models for millions of little girls, who play with these dolls and may believe that this overtly sexual hooker-style dressing is normal and acceptable.
We have been blaming magazines, clothing manufacturers and high street retailers for the sexualising of little girls, but these slapper Barbies surely play a role, too.
Such clothing send an insidious message that girls have to dress this way to fit in with their peers and to be “fashionable”. Barbie (and that means you, Mattel), you have been named and shamed. You need to get your fashion act together. Get rid of the glossed pouting mouth, the overmade-up eyes and big hair, lose the plunging necklines and the crotch-length skirts. Demonstrate that girls don’t have to look like slappers to be “one of the girls”.
Does it matter how dolls are dressed? Do tell us what you think.