Another week, another consumer uproar. Mattel teams up with tokidoki (cute name) to launch a collectible Barbie with pink hair, leopard-spotted leggings and a body full of tattoos. She’s a gorgeous, edgy cartoon.
Enter the complainers, who say that the doll sends the message to young girls and tweens that tattoos are okay and to them, that’s wrong. Well, look around; lots of people have tattoos. A Pew research study from 2006 found that 36 percent of adults 18 to 25 have at least one, so do 40% of adults ages 26-40. Body piercings are popular, too. That doesn’t make them bad people.
Mattel had to have anticipated this firestorm. An article in the UK Daily Mail helpfully outlines a history of tattoed Barbies that raised a ruckus with consumers. There was Butterfly Barbie in 1999 and Totally Stylin’ Tattoos in 2009, the tattoos were stick-on. The 1999 gal was pulled from the shelves after parents complained. Totally Stylin’ stayed on shelf, which is too bad because that name is just too awful. I’m not sure that I would have wanted to buy my daughter anything labeled “Totally Stylin.’”
This time around, Mattel isn’t budging. They issued a statement noting that the doll is aimed at collectors. Naturally, major media have joined in to fill in the blanks. Is a tattooed Barbie going to harm young girls? Doubtful.
Taken at face value, this new Barbie shouldn’t be raising the attention that it has. Barbie breaking boundaries is old news. Tattoos on Barbie is twenty year-old news. That a tattooed Barbie would raise the ire of some parents and be accepted by others is so predictable. There is nothing, absolutely nothing new.
But news it is, and the Mattel + tokidoki team is standing firm: this doll isn’t being marketed to kids. It was sold on the Barbiecollector.com site. The only puzzler is that the doll was released pre-holiday. I’m sure that a few of the complainers scratched Barbie off their holiday lists as a result of the so-called controversy. But there are lots of other gifts that could have worse impact on young kids: iphones for 10 year olds, say.
Oh, one more thing: her pet, a dog dressed up to look like a cactus, is called ‘Bastardino’ and her silver sparkly shoes are sky-high platforms. Total fun. Unfortunately, she’s sold out.
What do you think of the fuss around tokidoki Barbie?