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McBarbie: Selling Sex with a Side of Fries
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood demanded that McDonald's immediately end its highly sexualized My Scene Barbie Happy Meal promotion featuring ludicrously proportioned Barbies with micro miniskirts, halter tops, and rollerblades. "It's bad enough that McDonald's continues to use toys to sell kids on junk food. But to lure young girls to its restaurants by promoting the worst sexualized stereotypes is reprehensible," said CCFC's director, Dr. Susan Linn, a psychologist at Harvard's Judge Baker Children's Center.
Yet the CCFC didn't exactly get what they were asking for. McDonald's Barbie promotion ran as planned and was completed at the end of October. McDonald's gave away four scantily clad Barbies and four sets of Barbie bracelets during the promotion. Today, you can find these "McBarbies" for sale on Amazon and eBay.
"It's ironic that McDonald's is using an impossibly thin doll as an incentive for girls to visit their restaurants twice-a-week," said Linn. A standard McDonald's Happy Meal contains as many as 710 calories and 28 grams of fat. In response to concerns about childhood obesity, McDonald's has pledged to change its marketing practices and to produce advertising that includes "healthy lifestyle messages" for children.
"Putting rollerblades on Barbie doesn't make it healthy messaging," said CCFC's Dr. Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College and co-author of the book, So Sexy So Soon. "These dolls send a host of harmful messages about play, appearance, sexuality and what it means to be a young girl."
In attempts to become a family-friendly company, McDonald's agreed to participate in a Global Moms Panel to "provide input and guidance on a broad range of topics," including "restaurant communications and children's well-being." Linn reports that, "Parents all over the world are concerned about the sexualization of little girls. We hope that the Global Mom's Panel will consider the well-being of their daughters, and other people's daughters, by joining us in urging McDonald's to end its exploitative Barbie promotion."
Quotes from The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood
Sexy So Soon
The Lolita Effect
Female Chauvinist Pigs
Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media
Barbie's Birthday: But Not at Our House
Toxic Toy Story
No More Junk Toys: Rethinking Children's Gifts