Barbie is getting a makeover! But her looks won’t actually change. She’ll still be tall, blonde, and blue-eyed with the proportions of a Photoshop of Horror, but now she’ll have a little violin so China’s “Tiger moms” will buy her.
Like every other company in the world right now, Mattel wants to sell its stuff in China. But Barbie is not very popular in China. A few years ago Mattel built a giant, six-story hot pink flagship store in Shanghai that offered Barbie manicures and Barbie bust firming treatments, but that only lasted two years before shutting down. The doll hasn’t been selling as well as expected, and Mattel thinks a number of parents have been resisting Barbie because she is not educational.
Luo Chongzong says she bought her 9-year-old daughter a “Fashion Design” Barbie set, which cost around $61. The girl loves it, but Luo is not keen on Barbie because it distracts her daughter from studying.
“[My daughter] loves those dolls, but … they distract her from her studies,” Luo said. “She’ll spend hours braiding her hair, dressing and undressing her.”
According to the International Business Times, Mattel thinks it needs to appeal to the “so-called Tiger parents, moms and dads focused on educational success and extracurricular activities that will enhance a child’s individual education in the long run.” But instead of appealing to parents with toys that have actual educational benefits, they’ve made Barbie dolls to emulate what they think the parents want their daughters to grow up to be. One of those is “Violin Soloist” Barbie, who looks just like a normal Barbie in a hot pink dress from the 1980s, but she comes with a violin, bow, and sheet music.
Having seen Violin Soloist Barbie and her hideously pink dress and pageant hair, we’re frankly shocked the violin is not also pink. How is it not pink? Barbie’s freaking Mars Rover is pink, but her violin looks like a normal violin. The real-looking violin adds verisimilitude.
But giving Barbie a tiny, realistic violin does’t actually make her any more educational. We suppose the idea is that Violin Soloist Barbie will inspire little kids to want to be just like Barbie and thus get them to practice the violin all the time. But really, we all know the kids are just going to make their Barbie dolls have sex and murder people, just like we did.