Picture this: You’re a parent of a 9 year old girl who downloads a game on their Apple or Android device where she performs plastic surgery on a plus sized woman using liposuction and facial incisions to make her more “beautiful”.
What kind of message do you think this little girl is conceptualizing about this game?
Such a game exists, or at least used to until it was taken down from the App Store and Android Market. Plastic Surgery Barbie held its description as, “This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her. In our clinic she can go through a surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful." And this game was targeted towards 9 year olds.
How objectifying, derogatory, and borderline sexist.
The concept of plastic surgery being aimed at girls who may or may not have even hit their menstrual cycle yet is dizzyingly baffling. This takes the Honey Boo Boo pageantry mentality of self and peer cosmetic degradation, and shoots it into the stratosphere. This is a hop, skip, and a jump from one of the most frightening words I can ever imagine a parent hearing, “Mom! Dad! I want plastic surgery!”
But this isn’t just about little girls growing up so fast that they’re contemplating controversial procedures, this is about the game’s appalling messaging about self image. How do you think a plus sized pre-teenager would internalize this whimsically portrayed specified solution to a subjectified problem?
Dieting is difficult for all ages. Adults struggle with not seeing instant results all the time. However children are far less patient, and the worlds “…that no diet can help her” can easily validate her doubts in healthy eating, let alone look at plastic surgery as an option. What’s equally damaging is the description’s ignorant meaning of the world “beautiful”. This resurfaces and even exacerbates the challenge millions of girls and women have faced for decades: if you’re obese, “chubby”, or can even grab a small handful of belly fat, you’re unattractive.
It’s important to note that after Plastic Surgery Barbie was struck down by the digital stores, a new game Plastic Surgery Barbara was erected likely dodging unauthorized and/or inappropriate use of the Barbie brand after Barbie manufacturer Mattel publically distanced itself from the game. The reskinned, renamed “Barbara” was struck down too. With the same assumption that these two games were from the same developer, it just goes to show how sad, desperate, irresponsible and unethically driven this studio is.
The standardized integrity of the industry is to wish every game to succeed. However in the case of Plastic Surgery Barbie and the ghost “Barbara” follow up, I can candidly say I’m glad this game has been terminated from the mobile digital space.
Sources: BBC News