• Wed, Feb 12 - 10:54 am ET

Domestic Violence Barbie Is A Good Idea Gone Wrong

barbie domestic abuse

An art student has taken the popular meme of redrawing or altering Barbie to make a social statement and transformed the doll into a domestic violence victim. Complete with bruises, bloody cuts, and black eyes, Barbie is a far cry from her usual impossible bodily perfection. It’s an arresting take on the story of perfection that we sell to young girls with Barbie as our mascot, and brings up valid points about how we prepare children for realities of adult life.

Artist Sam Humphreys‘ project, “It’s A Matter Of Trust” aimed to “show the difference between how children view the world and its much darker realities.” Per the :The Huffington Post’s quote:

“The dolls are part of a project demonstrating how reality actually is and that life isn’t perfect. I was interested in how, when we’re younger, we’re led to believe that everything is perfect and how as children we are quite rightly sheltered from the harsh realities of adulthood.”

The photos are being shown at an exhibit called Speaking Out, which according to its website, aims “to address the difficult issue of gender violence by moving the debate forward and offering a positive contribution to social policy.”

barbie domestic abuse 2

Humphreys’ work aims to show that domestic violence can only be curbed if we start young, with respect and communication being critical values to impart as early as possible. She’s absolutely right, but I’m not sure how well these succeed beyond shock value. Okay, so we beat up Barbie. What next?

Obviously, it’s art and not a product model. Humphreys isn’t proposing that Mattel starts selling Domestic Violence Barbie, but at the same time, I don’t know that this reads as a rallying cry for more respect-based communication. Maybe I’m just experiencing Barbie-fatigue (you saw that she’s going to be in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, right?), but I’m not sure that this was the best execution of a good idea.

Photos: Facebook

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  • Kaitlin Reilly

    I think it’s a good idea in terms of artistic expression but I don’t think that this will have any impact on how children perceive the world, if that was truly the artist’s intention behind the project. Perhaps he could use the project to raise money for domestic violence prevention programs in schools or something charitable. If not, it’s just art, which is fine, but it’s nothing more than that. It will get people talking, hopefully about bigger issues.

    • Wickham

      The pictures of battered Barbie were only a part of the original project.

  • Q

    I feel like the artist is a bit oblivious to the fact that for some children this is their reality. Children actually have a good sense of when something is wrong, but are often told to pretend things are okay. (Speaking from experience).
    And from a less personal perspective I think there are far more creative ways to show the contrast between childlike innocence and the dark aspects of society. Mutilating Barbie doesn’t even hold shock value to me anymore.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      I agree–haven’t we seen Barbie/disney princess etc done to death?

      I also think you have a really excellent point about children absolutely knowing what’s going on even when they pretend otherwise or parents etc. try to hide it from them.

  • tk88

    Yeah I really don’t see that this has so much to do with children as some student making an artistic statement. The medium might be a doll, but that doesn’t mean children are going to be seeing this/get involved.

  • Robotic Arms Dealer

    Do not google “porn barbie”

    at least without massive filtering