Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
Barbie is adding a new hobby to her resume: she’s joining the Girl Scouts. As the dolls roll out in stores this week, real life scouts can also earn a Barbie “Be anything, do everything” participation patch—the first time Girl Scouts has ever worked together with a corporate sponsor. And as you can expect, some consumer groups are upset about the partnership, saying that putting the unrealistically perfect Barbie in the wholesome uniform sends a bad message.
“Barbie is basically a terrible role model for girls, and she’s not about what the Girl Scouts’ principles are, which have to do with leadership and courage,” Susan Linn, a psychologist and direct of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, told Today.
Both the Girl Scouts and Mattel stand by the new doll, saying that Barbie inspires young imaginations and encourages girls to follow their dreams. In fact, earlier this year, Mattel released Entrepreneur Barbie, and in the past, the doll has been everything from a presidential candidate to a firefighter. It seems only natural that she would don a green patch-covered vest eventually.
Yet the debate continues.
If the Girl Scouts feel the new doll fits their ideals, why can’t that be good enough for everyone else? As a child, I played with Barbie dolls often. I wasn’t looking for a role model; I simply saw it as a chance to invent new characters and stories with my sister. The toys allowed our imaginations to bloom. (We were both Girl Scouts at the time, and I’m sure we would have loved to dress our dolls like us.)
As for the little ones who aren’t involved in a scouting program, this new doll will raise awareness about the organization. If it encourages youngsters to check out the Girl Scouts and learn more about leadership and courage, then really, what’s the harm?
That’s not to say that none of the concerns are legitimate. I do understand the worries about shoving product placement in front of young children, and sure, I’ve never seen such a stylish Girl Scout uniform in real life. But let’s face it: little girls are going to continue playing with Barbie dolls. If my 5-year-old niece develops an interest in becoming a Daisy Scout after picking up one of these toys, I’d say the good far outweighs the bad here.
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