• Sun, May 19 - 12:30 pm ET

Berlin Barbie House Opening Attracts A Ton Of Protesters

Berlin Barbie House

A giant Barbie house opened Thursday in Berlin, and the ribbon-cutting was attended by some very small children, ironic 20-somethings, and a whole lot of protesters.

Barbie’s Versailles is a nearly 27,000-square-foot mansion neighbored by communist-era towers. From top to bottom it’s a shade of pink that would have shocked Schiaparelli, and visitors are greeted at the gate by a Barbie shoe big enough for a person to take a nap in.

The Barbie Dreamhouse is a touring exhibition designed to provide an “interactive experience” where young girls can experience what it’s like to be Barbie by going through her walk-in closet, put on makeup, pretend to be a model, and have their pictures taken. Admission costs $28, not including expenses at the enormous Barbie gift shop, which is full of all kinds of dolls, clothes for dolls and people, makeup, etc. The Berlin Barbie house is slated to remain open until the end of August, when it will move on to another city in Europe.

Several groups arrived at the opening Thursday to protest the event, and while they definitely agreed that the giant pink house was objectionable, they didn’t necessarily have the same objections.

One protester from Linksjungend, which organized the Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse campaign online, said he objected to the Barbie house’s one-two punch of sexism and capitalism.

“We are here because sexism is being used for capitalist gains,” he explained to a reporter from The Local, saying that he didn’t want to stop children from having fun, but thought that the Barbie house was being used to manipulate small children for financial gain. His hypothesis seemed supported by the glitter-covered little girls seen leaving the Barbie house with shopping bags in tow.

The Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse plan anticipated a 100-person protest, but the plan did not involve actually going into the house, just protesting peacefully from across the street. Even if they’d been allowed past security, getting 100 people into the Barbie house would have cost $2,800.

According to the head of Berlin’s teacher’s union, Doreen Siebernick, the house offers reduced entry fees for school groups.

“As a pedagogue, I understand that dolls are part of play,” she said. “But look around, the world is colorful while the Barbie house is only pink.”

“Siebernick added what she found dangerous was the fact that Barbie promoted the idea to young girls that they being rich, sexy and glamorous was the most important thing for women,” The Local’s Jessica Ware reported.

Protesters from Femen came as well, at least one of them topless with “Life in plastic is not fantastic,” written across her chest. Another carried a sizable cross with a Barbie doll lashed to it, which she later lit on fire.

Via The Local/Photo: Getty

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  • Tusconian

    I honestly don’t get this. First, there are dozens of tourist attractions such as this around the world, and if you add tourist attractions that cater to stereotypical femininity, such as spas (including spas for teens and younger girls), shopping malls, lunch with princesses, etc., well. Why is it okay to bring a Girl Scout troop to a mini-spa to get their nails and facials done, but not to let them play in a doll house? Would it be different if the dollhouse was painted a different color? For the record, I think a lot of the appeal of this attraction is the retro feel of a pastel-pink Barbie dreamhouse. The Barbie dollhouses nowadays are multi-colored and more “modern” looking, and this looks like it was based on the Malibu dreamhouse that was popular in the 80s and 90s.

    Second, if parents are raising their girls to value sexiness, wealth, and obsession with pink, this house isn’t going to make much a difference. With a cover charge and probably a limited amount of activities, no child is going to be running through every day and picking up previously foreign ideas about femininity. If they’re picking them up, they’re getting it at home first, from the media and peers second, and trailing at a very distant third (if that) would be a tourist attraction they went to once or twice in their life.

    And aesthetic appeals aside, Barbie is consistently shown to be rich of her own means, not by marrying or receiving gifts from men. Especially since Barbie is consistently shown to have a multitude of careers. Materialism aside, I am wary of a feminist group that takes issue with Barbie for being a (pretend) self-made woman. Aspirations of looking like Barbie and living in an all pink world may be unhealthy, but aspirations of having the ability to choose whichever career you want and be successful as a single woman is hardly a negative thing.

  • Norm from GA

    I had thought someone had leaked that the facility was originally going to commemorate the life and times of Klaus Barbie, “the Butcher of Lyons.” However, some of its financiers figured that the effort would get enough tourists to make it worthwhile, so they rethought the theme and painted it all pink. Yet, they still got protesters! You just can’t win!