Friday, March 28, 2008

I don't see a link for a Mr. Himbo anywhere. (Or Taking Barbie Seriously)

Just click on it...ugh.

I grew up with Barbie. Most little girls did, though I also had train sets and Hess Trucks, anything that had lights and moved of its own accord was big fun to me. Barbie was fun too, but even as a child, I knew she was not a depiction of reality, that she was hardly an inspirational toy for me, and my friends as future women. Real people do not look like Barbie dolls, nor should they aspire to be impossibly proportioned plastic women only capable of wearing sky-high heels. I liked all her costumes. What shocked and amazed me, as I grew older was that not every girl got that simple fact of life-Don't take Barbie Seriously.

I was born very pretty, but have never been, nor did I try to be that unhealthy thin girl the fashion world promotes as a beauty ideal. I never assumed my entire value as a human being centered around being attractive. Now don't get me wrong, I'm vain. I have beautiful skin, and I have pampered it since I was 12. When I look good to myself I'm quite pleased, however it is certainly not the center of my life. Not even when I worked in the fashion or cosmetics industry. I never had the drive to be perfect, whatever that might be, or the fear that I would be nothing if I refused to conform to a societal norm.

Somehow, though when we women were supposed to be gaining more and more rights, our girl children began to think less and less of themselves. They began to admire, and emulate women-girls really, known not for their accomplishments, or intelligence, or true beauty, but for snotty attitudes, and dressing like millionaire streetwalkers while racking up DWIs and Casanova levels of lovers.

If Miss Bimbo, or Ma Bimbo (the French site) were some joke set up by Maxim, just juvenile guy humor, a silly Paris Hilton joke, it would irritate me, but I would not find it so incredibly revolting. This is aimed at kids, little girls who are still playing with Barbie are invited to take a trip into a world where one wins by becoming the biggest bimbo around. Surgery, diet drugs, whatever it takes.

Good looks are in some hands, a currency, in others a truncheon. It all depends on what is going on behind those luminous eyes. Sexiness should not be a focus for girls under 10. Sexiness as a competitive sport? All this will only fuel future insecurity, and benefit the bank accounts of therapists everywhere.

Insecurity is a cancer in female society.

Internet Miss Bimbo game for girls attacked by parents

* Karen McVeigh

Parents' groups have condemned a new internet game in which girls as young as nine are encouraged to "buy" their virtual dolls breast operations and facelifts.

The aim of the Miss Bimbo beauty contest game, which was launched in Britain last month, is to become the "hottest, coolest, most famous bimbo in the whole world", and contestants who compete against each other are told to "stop at nothing", even "meds or plastic surgery", to ensure their dolls win.

Children are given a naked virtual character to look after. They compete against other players to earn "bimbo" dollars so they can dress her in sexy outfits and take her clubbing. They are given missions, including securing plastic surgery at the game's clinic to give their dolls bigger breasts, and they have to keep her at her target weight with diet pills.

Although it is free to play, when the contestants run out of virtual cash they have to send text messages costing £1.50 each or use PayPal to top up their accounts.

Bill Hibberd, of parents' rights group Parentkind, said the game sent a dangerous message to young girls.

He said: "It is one thing if a child recognises it as a silly and stupid game.

"But the danger is that a nine-year-old fails to appreciate the irony and sees the bimbo as a cool role model. Then the game becomes a hazard and a menace.

"Children's innocence should be protected as far as possible. It depends on the background and mindset of the child but the danger is that after playing the game some will then aspire to have breast operations and take diet pills."

He added that the game also posed a financial danger for parents if they did not keep an eye on the texts that were sent.

In France, where Miss Bimbo's sister website was condemned by dieticians and parents when it began last year, one parent threatened the creators with legal action after his daughter ran up a £100 mobile bill sending texts without his knowledge.

The British version already has nearly 200,000 players, most of whom are girls aged between 9 and 16. There are 1.2 million players in France.

One parent said the website's creators were irresponsible. Nick Williams, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, said he was appalled when he saw his daughters Katie, nine, and Sarah, 14, playing the game.

Williams, 42, an accountant, said: "I noticed them looking at possible breast operations and facelifts for their bimbos at the game's plastic surgery clinic.

"Katie is far too young for that kind of thing and it is irresponsible of the site's creators to be leading young girls astray. They are easily influenced at that age as to what is cool."

The creators of Miss Bimbo insist it is "harmless fun". Nicolas Jacquart, the 23-year-old web designer from Tooting, south London, who created it, said: "It is not a bad influence for young children. They learn to take care of their bimbos. The missions and goals are morally sound and teach children about the real world.

"If they eat too much chocolate in the game it is bad for their bimbos' bodies and their happiness levels compared to if they eat fruit and vegetables, which reinforces positive healthy eating messages.

"If they are having problems with boyfriends or at work, the bimbos can talk through them with a psychiatrist.

"The breast operations are just one part of the game and we are not encouraging young girls to have them, just reflecting real life."

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