Saturday, January 5, 2013

Because you can be anything Barbie can be!

Barbie is an interesting figure. Yes, she's weird and blonde and has a torturously perfect body but she's also come a very long way from the first Barbie. I won't lie, I played with Barbie as a child and our Barbies had a lot of outfits and accessories, cars and houses. It was fun to play with Barbie. Now Barbie has a lot of different careers, she comes in different colours (not sizes..), and so she's supposedly supposed to encourage young ladies everywhere to be whatever they want to be because if Barbie can, so can they.

Barbie, I'm sure, has had some questionable careers over the years but when I saw this certain career path I was a bit surprised. Apparently there is a "Splash and Spin Dolphin Trainer Barbie" available.

I guess I was surprised by the complete and total lack of subtlety involved. This isn't just like "hey kids, you can be a "Dr." or a "Lawyer" it's " look how much fun it is to be dolphin trainer!" A dolphin trainer? Who encourages their children to be dolphin trainers? I don't get it. I'll get to the morals and ethics of it later but first, let's look at the product details.  

"Your Daughter can Pretend to Be a Professional Dolphin Trainer." Your daughter can be pretend to be a dolphin trainer, but God help you if your boy wants to play with this toy. This thing is so geared towards girls:  "dolls and accessories let girls play out different roles and "try on" fabulous careers, including professional dolphin trainer."  Girls don't just get to pretend to be a dolphin trainer, they get to be "stylish" while they're at it: "Barbie doll knows how to make a fashion splash! She wears a sparkly pink wetsuit and matching pink flippers, so she always looks stylish while twirling in the water!"  And Barbie doesn't just "swim" with the "pretty pink dolphins" she spins with them too! "Girls will love playing out all the the bathtub or pool!" 

The toy makes swimming with and training wild animals sound like so much fun, so safe, and so cuuuuuuuuute!!! In reality, dolphin training is just not cute at all. Dolphins, whales, and seals held in captivity for human entertainment are not "happy" nor are they even "cute" most of the time since they're usually sick, fatigued, and depressed. Maybe in the Product Details they should be more realistic: "Your daughter will love trying to force dolphins to come up for air while they're trying to commit suicide! Dolphins are voluntary breathers and often try to kill themselves by sinking to the bottom of the pool because they're so miserable so Barbie has an extra sparkly outfit for such occasions!!" "Your little girl will love withholding food from her animals to force them to do unnatural tricks on command so a corporation can make huge amounts of money!" Or, maybe "your daughter will have the time of her life escaping gigantic killer whales that try to hold Barbie under the water and kill her, then thrash her lifeless body around like a..doll!" Does this Barbie come with a kit for masturbating whales, which is essential for the perpetuation of the billion dollar breeding program for killer whales? Because if you're really seriously about letting your girl become a dolphin trainer she should probably be aware of the perks that will come with her "fabulous" new job.

Every single parent who buys their child this toy should have to sit through a mandatory viewing of "The Cove." Dolphins in captivity are often caught in the wild and a major source of captive dolphins are captured in Taiji, Japan during the annual dolphin slaughter. Animal "trainers" from around the world come to Taiji to pick out the "prettiest" and most show able specimens while they ignore the hideous and cruel slaughter around them.   It's annoying when toys reinforce gender stereotypes but it's more annoying when toys are encouraging children to enter a career by misrepresenting it. If Mattel were honest, this is what the Barbie Dolphin Trainer would really look like: 

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