If you haven’t heard, there’s a new Barbie on the shelves and she has pink hair and tattoos. The limited edition doll has been designed by Tokidoki for Mattel, running for about $50. Collectors are already scrambling for the new Barbie, but parents are apparently livid about her new look.
One commenter, on the Ms Twixt website for parents of Tween-age girls, wrote: ‘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!’
Another wrote on the same website:
‘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.’
I agree that since the doll is marketed towards children, what the doll represents and details on her person should be of the utmost concern to parents. But equating body art with smoking cigarettes and alcohol consumption assumes a lot about who precisely is getting tattoos these days.
Personally, I don’t have any tattoos and I don’t want any. But I know enough people who have them to know that they aren’t all alcoholic floozies who chain smoke. Plenty of people with tattoos maintain healthy lifestyles, go to college, pursue careers, and become dedicated parents. (I’m clearly not talking about Miley Cyrus or Lindsay Lohan here.) And while not all professions are permissive of tattoos, there is nothing about the expression that prohibits young people from applying themselves to their education, being kind to others, or respecting their health — provided that they get such a tattoo in safe, clean environments.
In no way do I think tattoos should be made available to kids under 18 and I’m often disappointed to see really young teenagers with them. But telling kids that the “only people” who get tattoos are cigarette-addicted booze hounds sells them a bill of goods that undermines the many lovely tattooed-folk they have yet to meet.