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"Anorexic" dolls pulled from shelves

Published torsdag 20 oktober 2011 kl 16.21
"Anorexic" doll pulled from shelves
(3:25 min)
Photo: Folkbladet.nu

A Swedish toystore chain announced Wednesday it is pulling one type of doll from its shelves, after the public expressed outrage over the way the doll's body is shaped.

Marja - Liisa Luther was at the toystore in Umeå with her daughter recently and noticed something weird on the shelves. Luther was so shocked that she took a picture of it and stuck it up on Facebook.

What she saw was "Mermaid Princess", from the Defa Lucy fashion doll line. The doll looked similar to a Barbie, with the blonde mane, plastic skin, and yellow bikini, except her limbs were practically skeletal – her legs looked more like flesh-colored knitting needles with knees, than actual "doll" legs, and her arms were even skinnier.

Luther's image of the doll travelled around the web fast. She gave it the caption: "is this the image of a woman that we want to give our kids?" It sparked a explosion of comments, from "What??", to "That looks anorexic," and "That's sick." One person said: "If this is real, we should really do something about it."

But it seems that commenting, and the mass media picking up the story, was enough. Just three days after the picture went up, the chain, Barnens Hus, had pulled it at least temporarily from the shelves of the six stores where it had been placed.

Thomas Westerdahl, a product manager for the toystore, admitted to the tabloid Aftonbladet that based on the picture, the dolls look horribly thin. Westerdahl says he is looking into what went wrong and told Swedish Radio Västernorrland, "We have rules and regulations, and the judgment we've made now that we've started looking into it is that this never should have been out in the store."

But the makers behind this doll are not alone in riling shoppers and onlookers, alike. One of those Facebook responses to the photograph Luther put up posed the question: "more or less anorexic than Barbie?"

Barbie, who has been around for some 60 years now, sporting that iconic tiny waist under a gigantic chest, has also gotten her fair share of criticism for promoting an unhealthy body image for girls. Doctors have estimated that her body mass index is just 16.24 percent, which if she were real, would indeed mean that she was anorexic and woud not even have enough body fat to menstruate.

But in the end, doll designers are not the only ones responsible for influencing girls, as one customer told Swedish Radio: "There comes a time when kids start looking at other people's clothes and appearance anyway, so I don't think it's just about what the dolls look like," she said.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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