Newest Mattel Toy Lets Little Girls ‘Barbie-fy’ Their Faces With Digital Make-Up

barbie make-upThere are a whole lot of really awesome hi tech toys for little kids. This amazing dollhouse comes to mind pretty quickly. But there are also some serious tech fails when it comes to digifying the toy-making process. Remember when Disney thought it wouldn’t be creepy at all to put your child’s face on a mini princess figurine? Yikes. Well thanks to Mattel and the 110th International Toy Fair this week, we have a whole new bit of awkward tech to shake our heads at. It’s the digital Barbie make-over mirror.

The newest toy in Mattel’s Barbie empire is a pink vanity mirror with lights that parents can snap their iPads into. By downloading the accompanying app, little ones can start to smudge glittery eye shadow all over their faces, except without the mess of actually touching glittery eye shadow. They take a brush, dip it into the color they want, and just start painting their face. Some super cool recognition thingy-ma-bobber recognizes what you’re doing and applies the pretend cosmetics. You can glop as much make-up on as a Barbie without actually using any make-up.

I suppose, as a mother, I should be thrilled about this little gadget. It’s the fun of a little girl playing “make-over” with her mom’s make-up and none of the clean-up. You don’t have to worry about your three-year-old drawing all over her brother with your $50 tube of Marc Jacobs lipstick.

At the same time, I have to admit that I have a few issues. First, if there’s anyone whose make-up I don’t want my daughter replicating, it’s a Barbie’s. Have you checked those girls out lately? It’s like a little glitter rainbow on their eyelids. They’re wearing more make-up than a Comic-Con attendee. The whole point of playing in mom’s make-up is looking like mom, or ya know, a normal human adult.

Secondly, doesn’t the fun of playing with make-up kind of come with the mess of playing with make-up? All the brushes and textures and ridiculous stuff you can draw on your face. It’s really a tactile experience. I feel like virtual make-up application just isn’t the same.

Listen, I’m a mom who has no problem with her daughter playing in make-up. I don’t have an issue with Barbie. My daughter plays with her Dream House on a weekly basis. And yet… I’m hesitant about this toy. Digital dress-up just doesn’t sound all that great. Virtual make-up is just not the same as a bunch of brushes and my mom’s huge Mary Kay case, with 20 different eye shadows and four different blushes. If I don’t have to dunk my daughter in the bathtub after she’s played with my make-up, was it really worth doing at all?

Sorry Barbie. I think this is one hi tech toy that simply can’t compete with the real thing.

(Photo: Barbie)

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  • K.

    Sigh. I’m a little more freaked out that we assume some kid out there would want to virtually paint their face over actually painting their face. You’re totally right–makeup is tactile. It would make me sad if my kid said, “Mom, I’m no longer interested in digging in real dirt–can I please dig a virtual hole?”

    “You don’t have to worry about your three-year-old drawing all over her brother with your $50 tube of Marc Jacobs lipstick.”

    True. But you do have to worry about your kid handling the $600 iPad :)

  • bumbler

    This is akin to working in photoshop. Photo manipulation is a legit skill, one I wouldn’t mind my kids dabbling in. You can see it as depriving your kid of a hands-on activity like applying make up (but let’s face it, they’re probably going to get into your stash anyways), or you can see it as them taking a step towards a relevant modern skill. I don’t think this app would actually replace dress up. This is a stretch, but I could also see it being used by kids with strong sensitivities to real make up, or maybe kids with motor reflex/coordination problems, who might otherwise jab their eyeballs out with a mascara wand?

  • TheLily

    I remember my mom buying me make-up for tween girls before I got to that age. I actually lost interest in make-up after my mom told me I could wear it for special occasions. I’ll probably do the same for my children, but I’ll have to send them to my make-up artist brother if they want to actually learn how to put it on!

    I agree though. I would have wanted to wear make-up more if I had been forced to pretend to put it on.

    And is there really $50 lipstick?