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The first life-size Barbie “Dreamhouse” attraction has opened in Berlin, angering local feminists and women’s rights supporters.
The 2,500-metre-square lollypop-pink building is set in an industrial area of East Berlin, sandwiched between a railway and old communist housing blocks. For €15 fans of all ages can try on her clothes in a “seemingly endless walk-in closet”, pretend to bake cupcakes in her kitchen and admire hundred of dolls on display. For an extra charge visitors can also have a makeover for two different Barbie career options – pop star or fashion model.
Stevie Schmiedel, founder of the group “Pinkstinks”, which campaigns against gender and colour stereotyping in children’s toys, told Deutschlandradio Kultur: “The Barbie Dreamhouse is a culmination of everything that the toy industry has managed to do with the colour pink in the past 20 years… Pink now stands for seduction, cuteness, large eyes with long eyelashes and above all everything to do with external appearance.”
Another group called “Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse”, an offshoot of the left-wing Die Linke party, has planned a protest at the site on the opening day. A Facebook page made by the group has attracted more than 2,000 supporters. The organisers say they want to draw attention to “problematic stereotypes” during a peaceful protest aimed at the manufacturers of Barbie’s image and not at the families visiting the attraction.
The group’s leader, Michael Koschitzki said: “For 22 euros you can have two careers – model or pop star! What kind of image is that presenting to young women?” He added, “It’s a real pity that the vast majority of little girls play with a doll that if she were real, would be anorexic and whose life would be focused on waiting for Ken in the car.”
Supporters of the attraction point out that large numbers of tourists will bring a boost to the local economy. Philipp Lengsfeld, a campaigner for the Christian Democrats party in the region, told UK newspaper The Guardian, “The protest is an expression of the suburban narrow-mindedness of radical leftwingers… It is aggressive intolerance to which one should not give in”.
Barbie has long since been the focus of feminists’ wrath, with her long blonde hair, super-human proportions and materialistic hobbies. But Barbie’s manufacturers insist the doll’s image has been modernised; in more recent years, Barbie’s waist has been widened and she had been depicted in a variety of professions, including as a surgeon and as a presidential candidate.
Later in the summer Barbie will be packing up and moving on to start a European tour with her controversial “Dreamhouse”.
More about: Germany, Tourism, Women’s rights
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