Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Girl Scouts asked to end partnership with Barbie

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 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 have not 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.

Groups say Barbie is bad for morale

So, should the Girl Scouts dump her?

Yes

No

Girl Scouts asked to end partnership with Barbie 03/06/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 6, 2014 2:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. ReliaQuest's benevolent hackers try to make companies more secure

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Their goal is to get in. Past a security desk, through a firewall, into a system they shouldn't have access to. Sometimes they'll look like a regular person in the lobby who innocently forgot their access badge. Most times they won't be seen at all, remotely and quietly prodding a company's systems from a …

    Angelo Castellano of Tampa works at his desk at ReliaQuest | | [CHARLIE KAIJO, Times]
  2. Watch the trailer for 'Mini Lights,' based on St. Petersburg's frightening urban legend

    Blogs

    Perhaps you've heard of the "mini lights." The tales can vary a bit, but generally, they're said to be nasty little creatures controlled by a witch that once lived near Booker Creek. They come out after dark to "get you."

    A scene from the proof of concept trailer for a mini lights movie.
  3. Democratic ad: Adam Putnam is 'silent' on GOP health bill

    Blogs

    Democrats are trying to attach Adam Putnam to the GOP’s unpopular plans to replace Obamacare.

  4. Competition and uncertainty keep New Port Richey's Steve Miklos hooked on power boat racing

    Outdoors

    HOLIDAY — If Steve Miklos could have it his way, every power boat race would take place in rough water. He finds the turbulent conditions calming, an attitude he's developed during a professional power boat racing career that spans hundreds of races dating back to 1991.

    Steve Miklos, the throttle man and owner of the No. 51 Sun Print Racing boat, poses at his shop in Holiday. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Did a Cubs player give Trump the middle finger during a White House visit?

    Ml

    President Donald Trump welcomed former Rays manager Joe Maddon and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office. But it was a photo that surfaced later that got much of the attention on …

    President Donald Trump welcomed former Rays manager Joe Maddon and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office. But it was a photo that surfaced later that got much of the attention on social media.
The photo, taken by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, purportedly shows outfielder Albert Almora Jr. flipping a bird while standing just feet from Trump as the other players were gathered around his desk. [Gordon Wittenmyer via Twitter]