Getting Some Ink

Whenever you need some good old-fashioned overreaction, it’s hard to beat Barbie.

There was the infamous “math is hard” Barbie, which set off a debate about the things we teach our girls to strive for.

There’s the perennial body image argument, shaped (sorry) by a doll with an improbably narrow waist but with certain prominent advantages to compensate.

Now it seems it’s time for Mattel’s party girl to set the chattering off again. This time with a bit of ink.

That’s right. There’s now a tattooed Barbie.

Let the apocalypse commence.

“I think it is horrible and sends the wrong message to young people,” one online commenter opined.

“Why not put a cigarette and a beer bottle in her hand while you’re at it?” another asked.

“Is the New ‘Tokidoki’ Tattoo Barbie Inappropriate for Children?” U.S. News and World Report pondered in a headline.

Mind you, this is a limited edition doll, priced at $50, that’s specifically aimed at adult collectors. It’s not meant to be a children’s toy.

That said, I have to wonder. After all, tattoos are far from unheard of in the world of children’s entertainment.

There’s Popeye the Sailor Man with his prominent anchors (a point also noted by Scott Hollifield of the Winston Salem-Journal).

There’s Hefty Smurf who would wear his heart on his sleeve if he had sleeves – so he wears it on his arm instead.

Kermit the Frog had a chest tattoo in “Muppet Treasure Island.” They’ve been seen on bouncers in “Spongebob Squarepants,” or on a villain in “Kim Possible.”

In fact, as I go through the list, one oddity jumps out. With one exception – Lydia the Tattooed Lady on “The Muppet Show,” created specifically for her namesake song – all the mass media fictional characters with tattoos appear to be male.

Are we not as worried about little boys?

Is it more “appropriate” to think about a guy with a tattoo than a gal?

Or is it just a bigger deal when it appears on a doll who has no other identity beyond what she looks like and what she wears?

I don’t know.

I do know that I’m not especially worried. A hard-to-get $50 doll is about as likely to drive little girls to ink as I am to drive to the Yukon tomorrow. If this is the greatest danger our kids face, the next generation is in great shape.

Maybe, sooner or later, the worriers will get the point.

After all, it looks like Barbie already has.

One Reply to “Getting Some Ink”

  1. Tattooing is a venerable art form that has deep roots in numerous cultures. I’ve noticed that the strongest resistance to the art form comes from those with the most fundamentalist and close-minded attitudes. When I see someone with tattoos I always ask them about them and there’s a (detailed) story behind every single one. It’s a form of expression – free speech on the skin so to speak. Stop being fearful folks, no one’s demanding you get one – just asking for a little tolerance. Ask someone about their tattoos, you may be surprised what you learn.

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