Barbie is routinely tortured by British children, UK researchers found. I found this on Judith Warner’s New York Times blog, Domestic Disturbances. (Here’s the link, but it’s behind the bizarre orange Times Select barrier.)
Warner argues that Barbie is just a doll, a plastic plaything without any great significance:
"Now, I never have been one to believe that Barbie is The Root of All Evil. I don’t think that her ridiculous body proportions inspire girls to despise their own human forms. I mean, if a girl can’t distinguish between herself and a glorified piece of plastic, I think she’s got bigger issues than that of playing with anatomically incorrect toys (and her parents have a lot more work to do than just banning the offending playthings from their home)."
Sort of an odd argument, don’t you think? Most of us can distinguish between ourselves and the celebrities on the movie screen or TV set, the models in magazines, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make an impression, or hold any cultural significance.