Barbie-inspired plastic surgery game removed from app stores after backlash

"Plastic Surgery for Barbie" app pulled from App Store and Google Play; expert calls it "sexist and disturbing."

A Barbie-inspired downloadable game for iOS and Android devices focused around plastic surgery and reportedly aimed at children has been removed from app stores, as one expert called it "sexist and disturbing." The app in question, Plastic Surgery for Barbie, is no longer available on the App Store or through Google Play, though you can still see its iTunes product page thanks to Google cache.

As the BBC reports, the game was described as suitable for children aged nine and over and allowed users to make incisions with a scalpel and perform liposuction. An overweight woman depicted in the game was labeled "ugly" and it was your job to perform a variety of medical procedures to create thinner version of her former self.

Though Plastic Surgery for Barbie has been yanked from app stores, a second gamewith similar graphics and premise--Plastic Surgery for Barbara--remains available and is labeled suitable for people aged 12 and up.

Former British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons president Nigel Mercer told the BBC that the game is shameful and sends the wrong message to young women.

"This app blatantly and shamelessly uses child-friendly brand names [such as Barbie] to target young, vulnerable children and exposes them to sexist and disturbing rhetoric as the 'game' critiques the body of a cartoon character who does not conform to an unrealistic beauty standard," he said.

Barbie creator Mattel was quick to distance itself from the Plastic Surgery for Barbie app, saying in a statement that it had no involvement with the production of the app and

"At Mattel, we take our commitment to children seriously and work hard to ensure there are no unauthorized uses of our brands that may be unsafe or inappropriate for children," the company said.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

116 comments
TeamBuddies
TeamBuddies

While I withhold comment on the possible merits/demerits of the app itself, I believe that the term 'sexist' is used incorrectly in this context.  A sexist, as I understand it, is one that believes that one (human) sex is superior to another metaphysically and thus in many other more practical capacities, e.g., socio-economical and political.  This app is not sexist, because maleness or femaleness is not depicted as more valuable than the other.  Rather, this app promotes a particular kind of aestheticism, more specifically a certain female bodily aesthetic, i.e., the traditional Barbie vision for female beauty.  But aesthetic visions are inherent to human nature; that is, humans are all 'aesthetic-ists'.  Just think about art, food, and fashion.  This same discernment in beauty in non-sentient objects extends to human ones. Preferring certain appearances of the human body over others suffices to make one a human aesthetic-ist.  Whether or not a given human aesthetic-ist also believes a sex to be superior to another is categorically a different question, namely a doxastic one.  In fine, we would have more meaningful socio-cultural dialogue on the merits/demerits of apps, such as this one, if we labor to ideate a conceptual distinction between sexism and human aestheticism.  

Hurvl
Hurvl

App maker, I find your lack of judgment ...disturbing.

vadagar1
vadagar1

whats disturbing is that millions of people have to adhere to some lunatics idea of beauty ....

grove67
grove67

Im a barbie girl in a barbie world, made in plastic its fantastic

you may think im fat but surgery will make me flat

imagination, life is your creation


canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Apparently young women don't have enough of an body complex these days. How was this thing ever considered a good idea? I don't know weather to laugh or cry at this bs.

tightwad34
tightwad34

Thank you for pulling this pile of vile. All this does is promote materialism and try and make women, or people, become more superficial and thus evil. Not to mention enabling the path to idiocracy we are no doubt headed down. I can only imagine this was being made by an American company, SMH. I live there and I SMH everyday. If it's not this is now good or bad for you when previously thought otherwise, it's bullshit like this. Just stop with the control by fear or fantasies.

NeoIostars
NeoIostars

The game would've probably worked better as a social commentary or satire (for some reason I can't help thinking of "Death Becomes Her"). IMO, it just had the wrong target audience. 

noladem504
noladem504

...meanwhile, trash like Miley Cyrus "twerking" her flabby ass and jerking off finger signs simulating male masturbation is blasted at your kids and geared towards preteen girls.

the13stuff
the13stuff

So...

game about making large digital women look like the (unofficial) doll = bad

doll (official) that is pre preproportioned to what real women would require surgery for = good


Just trying to get straight what is acceptable in our strange world

deadpen
deadpen

WHAT there was a backlash on a game telling little girls that you are never pretty enough?!?!?!

hadlee73
hadlee73

The "expert" guy seemed really annoyed. Did he play the app and fail to make his Barbie pretty?

Gantrathor
Gantrathor

It's not anymore sexist and disturbing than what Barbie already is.

vadagar1
vadagar1

coming from MUCH experience .... a person's looks are nice.. the first few months... then if they are ugly on the inside u cant be with them, no matter how amazing they look.


its true external appearance IS important but the standards of beauty are CULTURAL for the most part and thus not all people want women to have the sick and dying look....


slim =/= beautiful for everyone

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Who the fuck green-lit this shite? I can't even begin to count the number of ways in which this is wrong.

And as I read through the comments, I can only hope everyone is trolling.

sonystark
sonystark

Im a barbie girl in a barbie world, made in plastic its fantastic

Upat3am
Upat3am

Omg I so wanted to get this!!!!!!!!  Oh well looks like I'll have to go play more Mario Party island tour.

thisBlueDude
thisBlueDude

I don't get it isn't this what real life is like?

gufberg
gufberg

I dont think there is anything wrong with instilling people with the idea that it is unnatural and wrong to be obese. It is. Not that i hate obese people - i think they should be helped. Morbid obesity is a sign of psychological problems. 

That said, we shouldn't teach our kids that plastic surgery is normal or natural. This definitely shouldn't be targeted at children.

Lastly, how is this game sexist? Does "game featuring women" equate to sexism?

Overlord93
Overlord93

I don't know, the one on the right probably has an increased life expectancy now I'd say that's a job well done.

zerofrust
zerofrust

I just love the game interface...so joyful and friendly...

mr_enlightened
mr_enlightened

Don't judge people by their looks, if you really want to know someone you have to see them with your eyes closed.

zequex
zequex

Mother: "I'm getting plastic surgery.".

Daughter: "Why?"

Mother: "To make me look beautiful."

Daughter: "Look, mom! I'm playing a game that lets me perform plastic surgery to make this girl beautiful!"

Mother: "THAT'S HORRIBLE. THAT GAME SENDS THE WRONG MESSAGE AND SHOULD BE TAKEN DOWN!" 

bouchart
bouchart

"Expert calls it 'sexist and disturbing.'" 

Well, that settles it.  The Expert has spoken.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Yeah a lot of people find the unrealistic image of Barbie dolls offensive these days. Meanwhile us guys have super heroes builds to try and emulate.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Hell we all get old and ugly ( provided we live that long ) anyway, no matter how much plastic surgery a person gets. Perfect example, Hugh Hefner.

shreddyz
shreddyz

@VenkmanPHD       Ignorance is uglier than obesity.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

Should you be expected to look like Thor?

youre_a_sheep
youre_a_sheep

@gufbergThese days, any message other than "every woman is an infallible goddess" is considered sexist.  Ironically, self proclaimed feminists tend to think women are too fragile to handle any criticism.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

You never know she might die of an anorexia.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

No if you are fat as fuck because you can't even take take care of yourself you should be judged accordingly.

zerofrust
zerofrust

@mr_enlightened  

"Don't judge people by their looks" How many times I've heard this being sung?Most people while NEVER do this...

Pilgrim117
Pilgrim117

@zequex Parents are the main role-models for children, but they put all the blame on media when there's something wrong.

GoddessIsabel
GoddessIsabel

@bouchart The Almighty Expert has passed the judgement of the gods. Unholy app makers, look upon his words and despair.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Being a good person doesn't overwrite being ugly because you don't take the time to take care of yourself.

thisBlueDude
thisBlueDude

@mr_enlightened @AggrandizedUser Yeah everyone feels the same on the inside.

shreddyz
shreddyz

@VenkmanPHD i can tell you have a lot of friends and everyone looks up to you for inspiration. 

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

I think the problem is too many parents relying on media to raise their children for them.

mr_enlightened
mr_enlightened

@johnnycontardo @mr_enlightened @AggrandizedUser Im actually very rich, handsome, and incredibly intelligent.


I still think beauty comes from the inside.

zerofrust
zerofrust

@mr_enlightened @zerofrust 

My point exactly...

zerofrust
zerofrust

@mr_enlightened @zerofrust 

"MOST..." that probably include even you.