Barbie Banned in West Virginia?

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

It's such a shame that, after 50 years, yet another Barbie boycott is on the horizon. Sure, generations of parents have refused to forgive the doll's blatant disregard for real women's figures. But here's one lawmaker in West Virginia ready to take the burden of banning Barbie off of parents and onto the state. Lincoln County Delegate Jeff Eldridge has introduced legislation that would outlaw the sale of Barbie dolls in his state.

"I just hate the image that we give to our kids that if you're beautiful, you're beautiful and you don't have to be smart," Eldridge says, "and I'd like to send a message to not only our children but parents and educators that let's push education over the importance of beauty."

Eldridge's colleague, Kanawha County Delegate Nancy Peoples Guthrie, appreciates his concern but doesn't think his bill stands a chance. "I think that it's nice to have a male member of the House of Delegates worried about women's image and what they're supposed to do or what they think they're supposed to do to succeed," she says. "My sense is that this is probably not a bill that's going to pass." Ya think?

Trouble in Toy Land

    Barbie In 1989, the Barbie Liberation Organization took Mattel to task for their Teen-Talk Barbie, which intoned the infamous words, "Math is hard." To teach Mattel a lesson, they switched dozens of Teen-Talk Barbie voice boxes with those from Talking Duke G.I. Joe dolls.

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    Bratz Although the low-rise jeans-wearing dolls are meant for girls between the ages of 7 to 12-years-old, preschool girls have been toting these luscious-lipped curvaceous toys, causing an outrage among parents and toy watchdog groups. In 2006, a Harvard group, in collaboration with Dads and Daughters, pressured Hasbro to stop production on a Bratz line based on the super-sexy girl group Pussycat Dolls in 2006.

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    Easy-Bake Oven A popular toy since the '50s, you'd think that Hasbro would've gotten the kinks out of the play oven by now. In July 2007 the toy company recalled the new version of the oven after more than 200 kids got their fingers stuck in the oven's door and 77 kids reported being burned from the device.

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    Aqua Dots It's never a good idea to eat your toys, especially if they're Aqua Dots. In 2007, there were several cases of kids vomiting or falling into a coma after ingesting the beads. And, scientists found that the toy's coating contained a chemical that turns into the "date rape" drug Rohypnol after digestion. The arts and crafts beads were pulled off U.S. shelves immediately after the discovery.

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    Scrabulous When RJ Softwares developed Scrabulous for Facebook it attracted a half-million players daily, prompting Scrabble maker Hasbro to slap the India-based company with a fat lawsuit claiming Scrabulous stole "intelligent software" including the game's trademark name. (The suit has since been dropped.)

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    Super Columbine Massacre RPG When tragedy hits, it's usually a good idea to downplay it and let wounds heal--not create a video game about the disaster. Despite the negative reaction by the survivors and victims' families, the game is still available online.

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    Tickle Me Elmo In 2006, love for Tickle Me Elmo turned ugly at a Target in Tampa, Fla., when a man threatened another customer with his life. The guy told the shopper he had a gun and wasn't afraid to use it if he didn't get the Elmo doll. And it looks like Elmo isn't that innocent after all: That same year, some copies of the "Potty Time with Elmo" interactive book contained a button that said," Who wants to die?"

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    Grand Theft Auto The game's in-your-face violence and sex has been highly scrutinized by parent groups. And controversy sparked when 2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas game contained sexually explicit mini-games that could be unlocked with a code. Versions of the game have already been banned in Thailand and Australia.

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    The SockObama In June 2008, the blogosphere fumed about a sock monkey doll made to look like Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. Although the doll may have been described as "firm but huggable," the doll's production was stopped after a couple of weeks after critics said the doll had racist undertones.

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    Furby No one's too sure exactly what a Furby is. However, in early 1999, The National Security Agency put employees under "Furby Alert" and requiring that employees keep their Furbies at home. It turns out the furry toy contains a computer chip that can potentially record classified information.

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If we are going to start banning the sale of playthings that send the wrong message to girls, why stop with Barbie? Off the top of my head, I can think of at least five other contenders for the worst dolls ever.

Bratz. With creepy detachable feet, oversized heads and blown up lips, these dolls make Barbie look downright plain. The slight resemblance of the two dolls didn't escape Mattel's notice. Last December a California judge ruled for an immediate stop production and recall. Mattel was awarded $100 million for copyright infringement and breach of contract.

Sunshine Caylee. Thanks to public outrage, this morbid little doll has yet to hit the shelves. Intended as a tribute to slain Caylee Anthony, it instead fueled protests, petitions and a collective gasp of horror that sent Showbiz Promotions back to the drawing board. "We're going to see if we can present it in a more classy and sensitive fashion," says the company's president.

Hello Kitty. She started out innocent enough, but over the years her reputation has suffered. Once a sweet little feline popular for her stickers and lunchboxes, she can now be found promoting sexy lingerie, men's underwear and even guns. In her latest incarnation, she is a "sexy siren" pushing cosmetics for MAC.

American Girl. I know they are supposed to "celebrate a girl's inner star", but what they really do is separate the haves from the have-nots. At about $100 each, a parent could spend a small fortune on a collection that doesn't even include outfits, hair appointments (for real) and best friends. The books are great. The dolls, not so much.

Webkinz. As a parent who has given in to the Webkinz whine more times than I care to admit, I long for the day when these furry little things fall out of favor. Once that tag is off and the new acquisition is logged in online, the toys themselves cease to be of any use whatsoever. Unless you consider dust-collecting useful.

Can you add to our Worst Doll List?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.