A Girl Scouts-themed Barbie doll is coming to stores this week. And, as one would expect, it is not going over well with parents who think that Barbie is not the best role model for little girls.
The relationship between Mattel and the Girl Scouts was actually forged last year, when the Girl Scouts began to offer a “Be anything. Do everything” patch, the first time the group signed on for a corporate partnership.
“Barbie is basically a terrible role model for girls, and she’s not about what the Girl Scouts’ principles are, which have to do with leadership and courage,” Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood tells the Today show.
However, the Girl Scouts have defended the partnership.
“Girls and moms alike associate this doll with the outdoors, camping, giving back in your community, and we think that those are really positive messages to all of our girls,” Kelly Parisi, spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the USA told the morning show.
The partnership appears to be a mutually beneficial one. But some women can’t get over the fact that a good chunk of Barbie’s appeal is superficial.
In 2013, the Girl Scouts reported that it has been battling some serious financial troubles, with hundreds of millions in deficit because of its pension plan and declining sales of its very popular cookie lines. For them, the $2 million value of this partnership with Mattel is probably very welcome. I was “asked politely” to leave the Girl Scouts when I was a child due to a perceived lack of enthusiasm about some activities and a certain roller skating incident involving a girl in another troop. Despite this unfortunate experience, it pains me to hear that this worthwhile organization might be struggling.
Barbie, meanwhile, has been on a mission to shift her reputation. Earlier this year, we were introduced to Entrepreneur Barbie which launched with a Twitter chat and a LinkedIn profile. The doll was accused of “pinkwashing.” Even though she was talking business, she still had her unreal figure. And there was still lots of emphasis on her outfit, even though her accessories included a tablet device.
It should also be noted that, Barbie was also featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue this year.
Many of the same criticisms of Entrepreneur Barbie are greeting Girl Scout Barbie; she’s not a good representation of real women and girls or anything that they should aspire to.
However, there are defenders, chief among them, little girls and their moms. Based on the feedback on the Today show and the fact that, after 55 years, Barbie is still going strong, it’s clear that many girls still love their Barbie dolls. As long as that’s still the case, chances are we’ll continue to see different iterations of the iconic doll. And if Barbie really is trying to shift its rep to keep up with modern women while still looking like the same decades-old doll, she’ll continue to get hit with negative chatter.