LONDON – The iconic plastic doll Barbie often is mutilated at the hands of young girls, according to research published Monday by British academics.
“The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity and see the torture as a ‘cool’ activity,” said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. “The types of mutilation … range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving.”
Researchers questioned 100 children about a range of products. They found Barbie provoked the strongest reaction, with youngsters reporting “rejection, hatred and violence,” Nairn said.
“The meaning of ‘Barbie’ went beyond an expressed antipathy; actual physical violence and torture toward the doll was reported repeatedly, quite gleefully, across age, school and gender,” she said.
While boys often expressed nostalgia and affection toward Action Man – the British equivalent of GI Joe – renouncing Barbie appeared to be a rite of passage for many girls, Nairn said.
“The most readily expressed reason for rejecting Barbie was that she was babyish, and girls saw her as representing their younger childhood out of which they felt they had now grown,” she said.