Friday, October 21, 2011

The latest (yawn) Barbie scandal - Tokidoki's tattoos

It never ceases to amaze me how here, in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, how many people there are who don’t seem to appreciate precious freedoms. I am not talking about immigrants still learning our history, culture and customs, I am talking about people who were born and raised, here in the USA, who have,  presumably, been through our education system, read the constitution, and understand the rights that were earned by the Founding Fathers via the American Revolution.

Or do they?

Perhaps I have a different perspective, since I grew up with my father as a role model. He was originally from Czechoslovakia, a small country in Eastern Europe to which history has been most unkind. Dad barely managed to survive two brutal, absolute dictatorships, first Hitler, then Stalin. When he arrived in the US in the 1950s, well, let’s just say my dad discovered “Freedom of Speech” and made it all his own. He was a very opinionated soul, and was, perhaps by definition, what one could call highly conservative.

Except in one instance.

Maybe it was due to the regimes he lived under, but my dad had an absolute loathing of censorship. What really surprised him, coming from the background he did, to a country where freedom was the rule and not the exception, was finding so many people who wanted to take away the freedom of others to choose, because the naysayers found something offensive. To best sum up how my dad felt about this, I’ll even use his own words:

If that book or magazine offends you, don’t read it. If you don’t like that song or TV Show, either change the channel or turn off the player. If you don’t like the movie, don’t buy tickets to it. No one is holding a gun to your head!

Yes, I am aware this is a blog about dolls, and yes, I do have a point. Today’s target is the latest (yawn) controversy over a Barbie doll, specifically the Tokidoki Barbie, which  Fashion Doll Review's own Alison reviewed only a few posts ago.

What amuses me the most about the scandals that keep coming up about Barbie – which, sadly, don’t seem to be slowing down in the slightest – is how hysterical some of the alleged consumers get to be, as if there actually was a gun, held up to their heads, forcing them to fork over their hard earned money for these dolls.

The scandal specifically focuses on Tokidoki’s tattoos. Hand wringing, hair pulling  adults, this time led by a woman named Marianne Szymanski, founder of Toy Tips, an independent toy researcher, who was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor, which can be found here.

I am not belittling the Ms. Szymanski for being concerned about the toys her children and other children play with – though I am not a parent, I know I would be concerned with how age-appropriate a toy would be, and even more importantly, how safe the object would be for a young child. There are legitimate concerns – small pieces a child could choke on, lead paint, toxic materials, age appropriateness, and so forth.

But Ms. Szymanski is defeating her own self-appointed mission, namely the protection of her own and other children and risks making herself a laughing stock by her own words. She notes that Mattel points out that this doll is meant for adult collectors only, not children, which is stated on Mattel’s website, and is sold, not in brick and mortar stores that are easily accessible to children, but online, at select retailers who cater to adult collectors. Tokidoki is not available to collectors at the regular Mattel site which is frequented by children, but rather at, which is geared for adults.

How does she manage this?

“It doesn’t matter if it’s not for kids. It’s out there.”

“The argument that you’ll get from the toy companies is: ‘Oh, it’s for adults.’ But those companies need to know what parents’ concerns are.”

I really don’t understand this mindset. She has already defeated herself and her concerns. The item is clearly an adult collectible, she, herself says that is Mattel's official statement on the subject. Yet Ms. Szymanski, someone who is allegedly a parent, and the founder of what otherwise seems to be a very helpful organization for fellow parents, sounds incredibly naïve. Is someone holding a gun to Ms. Szymanski’s head, forcing her to purchase this doll? I find that highly doubtful.

There is a pattern at work here, which makes me wonder about a segment of "alleged modern parents." I say alleged, because I don’t want to demean genuinely good mothers and fathers who do their best for their children.

"Alleged modern parents" are people who do not stand up to their little darlings and being a parent,  saying to their little darlings, “No, you can’t have that.”  This variety of "parent" usually caves in to a carefully waged whining and/or tantrum campaign by said little darlings. Most times, they will finally buy the item just to get some peace; or so their children, “Won’t hate me,” or “View me as the bad guy.”

Instead of reflecting on how to actually be the adult in the relationship with their children, these "alleged modern parents" will create an uproar in the media, and/or file lawsuits against a toy company for an inappropriate item, such as a doll that is clearly not for children.

Perhaps the size of Mattel's bank account, real or imagined, is too much temptation for these "alleged modern parents."

I am not in the habit of defending a doll company or other large corporation, because these folks have their own legal departments who can do that for them; as well as publicity departments for handling inquiries from the media and other concerns. But the fact of the matter is, Mattel is clearly aware of "parental concerns," since they are marketing the item for adults only, and not placing these dolls in venues where children will see – and possibly covet them –  such as regular brick and mortar stores, Mattel’s Barbie website which is frequented by children, or online stores where they can be seen and purchased by children.

Perhaps Ms. Szymanski’s energies would be better focused on finding toys she finds appropriate for her children. After all, a $200,000 plus Ferrari, which is also an adult collectible, is inappropriate for children, yet she is not calling for a ban on those, is she?


  1. You know there seem to be more and more of this type of people. They are not part of the solution at all, they only criticize what is out there already. If it's not Barbie, it's Ben and Jerry's or Occupy Wall Street.

    Needless to say, TokiDoki is sold out on! Way to boost sales, Szymanski.

  2. I actually want to argue a related point:
    Why is a tattooed doll inappropriate for children? I'm 37, and while I do not have any tattoos myself, I know several of my peers who have tattoos and also have children of their own. My boss at work is my mother's age, and she has tattoos, too.

    Generally speaking, if the doll's tattoos are not vulgar, I can't see any reason why a child can't play with a doll that emulates reality.

    My tattooed peers and coworkers who have children are great parents, by the way. I'm not talking about trashy people dragging their poor offspring through miserable lives; I'm talking about teachers, store managers, stay-at-home moms, and computer programmers. My own stepfather has tattoos, for goodness' sake. He's a lovely patriotic fellow who did a turn in the Navy as a young man. My boss has tattoos which are memorials to family members who have passed away. A former teacher of mine had a tattoo placed on her chest after her cancer surgery.

    Tattoos are no longer exclusively the domain of the fringes of society. They no longer represent unsavory, law-breaking people. I've encountered parents of college students who helped their adult kids pick out their latest Tattoo.

    Tokidoki Barbie is obviously geared toward an adult market, but if I had a little girl who asked me for it because she wanted to add her to the collection, I wouldn't have a problem with it. (As a large present, not a whim.) As it happens, my little girl would rather have a new Ipod. :D

  3. May favorite quote in this article is, '“It doesn’t matter if it’s not for kids. It’s out there.”

    Honestly, I think the US in particular loves polarization. We like to put things in two boxes, black or white, good or bad, right or wrong, left or right. Mention something might not be so easy to classify, and oh boy!

    Barbie is easy to classify this way, if you consider her a toy for little girls, and not as a doll to collect. My question would be--why would people make a stink over a cute doll with pink hair and a pretend totally nonexistent creature on a leash, when they could be complaining about another lingerie doll? I mean, "“It doesn’t matter if it’s not for kids. It’s out there.”

    If people are so afraid of what is "out there," maybe they shouldn't have had children. I hope they don't watch television, or ever drive past any billboards. Because there might be something much more offensive on those billboards than a cute little pink-haired doll with a tattoo.

    And for the record, I actually do have tattoos. And even worse, my hair is dyed robin's egg blue and black right now. It changes almost monthly. (It cover up the "sparkles," as my girls call them. ;)

  4. And Blue. A Ferrari? As "inappropriate"? I almost peed! ;)

  5. This reminds me of the Pregnant Midge scandal. Remember how upset some parents became about Midge being pregnant? Little girls would see the pregnant Midge doll and as soon as they could, they would get themselves pregnant. Older girls who had moved past Barbies, would return just because Midge became pregnant. Oh, now those teens would become pregnant. Unwed mothers are Mattel's fault. Pffft.

    Just as those parents needed to look to their own lives and the lives of the people around them before blaming a toy company, so this woman and her hysterical friends need to look to their lifestyles. If the parents have tattoos or the children watch programs where there are tattoos, then that is part of the child's background.

    What's saddest about this pointless Mattel and adult collector bashing is that these protest groups could use their power for GOOD. They could work toward something positive, something beneficial. Like doing something to help hungry children in AMERICA.

  6. Readers, thanks for your comments.

    I think the problem is, society is turning into a bunch of wimpy, spoiled whiners who really are just too lazy to think for themselves.

    LOL, I can just HEAR my dad's snarling about the idiocy of today's parents - even though I was a spoiled brat only child guilty of a LOT of whining campaigns. Of course, I might have gotten away with that, because I was something of a tomboy, and dad might have been holding out hope that interest in Barbie just MIGHT turn me into the "Young Lady" he wanted me to be. Silly dad!

    I have absolutely no problems with tattoos, or things that might be otherwise considered offensive, because dad was adamant that if I didn't like it, I didn't have to look, read, listen to, watch, buy or whatever. His life experiences were downright terrifying, and actually make me appreciate the freedoms we have.

    Oh, and Alison? Hope you had a mop handy! ;^D

    The Ferrari comparison came up because I was traveling through Redmond (home of Microsoft) which is, I guess, Washington's equivalent of Beverly Hills, and I saw a Ferrari pass us, which actually had a "Student Driver" sign on it! All I could think was, "No,no, NO!! Let the little darling learn to drive something MUCH cheaper, BEFORE you let them have a spin in the Ferrari, jeez!"

  7. simply put:

    people are on crack.

  8. Oh ladies, go comment on politics on your own blogs. Don't even get me started. My socialist politics will cause my doll readership to decline sharply! ;)

  9. I couldn't help but notice that one of the first lines you posted within this entry is sited at the following link, with a posed question.

    They don't mention the author, but I quickly recognized the quote.

  10. I can't speak for Miladylue, the author of this post. However, from the tone of the article, I'm pretty sure she is being ironic throughout. Especially with the paragraph in question being followed by the sentence, "Or do they?"

    Thanks for the link, Cat.

  11. I asked the Sprog if she thought that a tattooed Barbie was inappropriate for kids and she said "No, I mean, YOU have tattoos Mum, and YOU'RE appropriate."

  12. I appreciate the comment Alison.

    I'm not really an immigrant so I can't really say on behalf of the immigrants whether or not the statement was offensive.

    To be honest with everyone, I sincerely believe that the Miladyblue did not intend to be mean or offensive that is why I was trying to separate the actor from the action.

  13. As a regular reader of both Niel's blog and MiladyBlue's post, I don't think that either of them meant any malice. Niel was curious about something; MiladyBlue was stressing which people she meant.

    (Ooops, Judge Judy might have me for "calling for knowledge of the operating of their minds" - not guilty, just saying what I feel was intended based on my experiences with these two cool bloggers.)

  14. I am not surprised this thing happens. It comes from the land where someone sued McDonald for making her obese. Of course, it's out there! It's about making the right choices and sometimes the right choices are not the most fun. Just be grateful that most of you have choices!


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