Barbie is causing some controversy again. The logo of the world’s most famous doll is showing up on a Girls Scout patch, and some consumer advocacy groups are not happy about it. It’s pretty ridiculous that the Girl Scouts are basically selling ad space on their young members in the form of a Barbie patch.
From USA Today:
“Holding Barbie, the quintessential fashion doll, up as a role model for Girl Scouts simultaneously sexualizes young girls, idealizes an impossible body type and undermines the Girl Scouts’ vital mission,” says Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Another consumer group, Center for a New American Dream, is joining in the protest.
I ultimately feel Barbie is just a doll – an inanimate figure that possesses the characteristics we give her. When I was a kid, mine was a badass. She totally wore the pants in her relationship with Ken, managed a hair salon, and jumped into her purple Barbie corvette Dukes-Of-Hazzard style. I just really believe the work we are doing with young women – emphasizing the importance of positive body image, breaking down gender stereotypes and really pushing them to realize that they are not limited by their sex – may not be served best by Barbie. No offense Barbie – but I’m with the advocacy groups. The partnership doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. But the most offensive thing about it all is the fact that the badge would turn a scout into a walking corporate ad. Not good.
I imagine the Girl Scouts agreed to it for the money. While they won’t disclose the amount – I don’t think a precedent should be set that organizations that exist to boost up young girls are selling ad space on their bodies. If Mattel wants to support the Girl Scouts – fine. But don’t make our daughters your billboards via their Girl Scout uniforms.
For the two consumer groups, the core issue is the commercialization of childhood. In an Internet age, kids already are riddled with commercial messaging all over Web pages, blogs and Facebook pages. But a growing number of marketers, eager to reach into the moments that most touch us and influence our daily lives, increasingly are blurring the lines between real life and commercialism.
Corporations like Mattel should be invested in donating money to help organizations like the Girl Scouts. But should we make it the norm that such companies can expect a badge on a Girl Scout uniform? I say no.
“It is particularly troubling that the youngest scouts are encouraged to wear a Barbie patch on their uniforms, transforming them into walking advertisements,” says Linn. “While Mattel and the Barbie brand benefit enormously from the Girl Scouts’ endorsement, the partnership harms girls.”
I’m with the advocacy groups. Corporate logos have no place on a Girl Scout uniform.
(photo: Girl Scouts.org)