Girl Scouts Asked to End Partnership with Barbie

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Girl Scouts Barbie
Mark Lennihan/AP
By DAVID CRARY

NEW YORK -- A few weeks after her foray into the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, Barbie is entangled in controversy again, this time over her ties with the Girl Scouts.

Two advocacy groups often critical of corporate advertising tactics -- the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for a New American Dream -- on Thursday urged the Girl Scouts of the USA to end its partnership with the doll's manufacturer, the Mattel (MAT) toy company.

The partnership, announced last August, includes a Barbie-themed activity book, a website, and a Barbie participation patch -- the first Girl Scout uniform patch with corporate sponsorship.

"Holding Barbie, the quintessential fashion doll, up as a role model for Girl Scouts simultaneously sexualizes young girls, idealizes an impossible body type, and undermines the Girl Scouts' vital mission to build 'girls of courage, confidence and character,'" said Susan Linn, director of the Boston-based commercial-free childhood organization.

She said the Barbie patch -- targeted at 5-to-8-year-old Daisies and Brownies -- would transform these girls into "walking advertisements."

"This is product placement at its worst," said New American Dream's executive director, Wendy Philleo, who described herself as a longtime admirer of the Girl Scouts.

"Our children are already being bombarded by marketers' pitches at stores, at home, online, on TV, and in school," said Philleo, whose Charlottesville, Va.-based group tries to counter the commercialization of American culture.

The Girl Scouts' national headquarters in New York rejected the groups' appeal.

"Our partnership with Mattel focuses on career exploration and teaches girls about inspiring women in a fun way," its statement said.
"We stand behind this partnership, as it helps us bring to over 2 million Girl Scouts the message that they can do anything."

That's the essence of the Barbie uniform patch -- a bright pink oval with a gold-letter slogan stitched on it: "Be anything. Do everything."

Barbie -- still slim-waisted and long-legged after 55 years -- had pursued roughly 150 different careers, and she stretched her boundaries again in February by posing along with real-life supermodels in Sports Illustrated's 50th anniversary swimsuit issue. Anticipating the criticism that ensued, Mattel promoted the campaign with the catchword "unapologetic."

In announcing the partnership with Mattel last August, Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez depicted both her own organization and Barbie as "American icons."

"Together, we are teaching girls that their futures are wide open with possibilities," Chavez said at the time.

The Girl Scouts haven't disclosed the monetary value of the partnership with Mattel.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said that a game on the Girl Scouts' Barbie-themed website encouraged girls to identify careers based on attire -- "from a veterinarian in a frilly miniskirt, to a pink-suited U.S. president, to a race car driver in stilettos."

Said Susan Linn, the campaign director, "The website is little more than an interactive ad for Barbie promoting the brand's insidious message that women really are what they wear."

Due to their size and high profile, the Girl Scouts have been a frequent target of criticism over the years, notably from certain conservatives who contend -- despite the Girl Scouts' repeated denials -- that the organization tilts toward the abortion-rights side of the national abortion debate.

Last month, some anti-abortion groups launched a boycott of the Girl Scouts' annual drive to sell cookies.


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49 Comments

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john&jan

this doll has been around longer than any group, it is a waste of time and money to go after a doll,there are real kids in this world who in fact have nothing to wear or eat,where is a group to go help those real kids. it is a doll people.

March 07 2014 at 6:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
smokert5555

I think this group (and other similar ones) are overthinking this. It's just a doll, not a role model. It's nice Mattel went to the trouble of creating many jobs for barbie, but no kid wants to be like barbie as an adult any more than they want to be like GI Joe with the kung fu grip as an adult, or a cabbage patch doll, etc. Don't you think it's silly that an inanimate object (barbie) has more influence over the kid than their parents do? I know, there are instances where this does happen, but we're talking very rarely here. Most kids will play with the doll, then move on.

March 07 2014 at 6:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
patriot1too

It looks like the girl Scouts are jumping on this politicaly correct bandwagon. Shame on them. They are destroying the minds of our youth turning them into little politicaly correct victim wannabe consumer drones with a chip on their shoulder. Typical feminist nonsense.

March 07 2014 at 6:19 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
LA is Best

The GS used to be a great Christian organization that molded girls into young women with good values. Today's GS's teaches that homosexuality and abortion are great things therefore you can keep your cookies and Barbies!!

March 07 2014 at 6:12 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to LA is Best's comment
belpugs1

Next......Cabbage Patch kids. those little bass turds are ruining our children DIE Cabbage Patch scum.......Hey what about those girls who wanted to be Ken?????????? Get Ken and let's play guillotine Get that Bass Turd he's making our girls into lesbians!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 07 2014 at 6:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tieboe

You know what...lets start making dolls that are ugly and fat just so litle girls can have self esteem. Society has gotten rediculous. I grew up with Barbie and not for one minute did I feel about my body because it did not look like hers. People (Women in particular) need to get with the program...

March 07 2014 at 6:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
skibuff52

your nothing but a pain in the ass from the day your born to the day you die

March 07 2014 at 5:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
patriot1too

Folks this is all about that awful political correctness. As we all know political correctness is destroying America and our youth. There is no doubt that that awful anti-family, anti-father, anti-child feminist cult is behind this nonsense. Barbie is fine as she is. Let girls be girls and boys be boys. Stop trying to micro manage our children by these silly notion groups who only do more harm then good because they have a warped agenda. And we know that the feminist cult is by far the worst as they harm everything they get in to.

March 07 2014 at 5:48 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to patriot1too's comment
lackbeery

COULDN'T AGREE MORE

March 07 2014 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JOSEPH G MATTERA

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME; ALL THIS NONSENSE OVER A TOY;
FROM AN ADVOCACY GROUP(********) GET A LIFE..........

March 07 2014 at 5:45 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JOSEPH G MATTERA's comment
kodeex

I agree totally, it's a doll.... Maybe they think girls should aspire to look like Meme from the Drew Carey show...

March 07 2014 at 6:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pmbalele

What are you talking about - people are already fighting about Lupita. One neighbor is making a doll of her to be sold in Walmart. But the other neighbor says no to Walmart for it uses cheap labor overseas and fails to pay U.S. employees minimum wage while their CEO’s are filthy rich. It would be a disservice to Lupita who strikes as being socially conscience if Walmart sells Lupita dolls. This is a challenge to all Americans. Any better suggestions about Lupita doll are welcome?

March 07 2014 at 5:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply