When Mattel decided to open up a life-sized Barbie Dreamhouse in Berlin, similar to the one that recently made its debut in Florida, they were probably expecting to see crowds of young girls lining up to get the first look. However, when the doors of the iconic pink mansion opened on Thursday, May 16, the streets were instead lined with angry Left Party protesters who believe the temporary exhibit is sexist and promotes a materialistic and shallow lifestyle for young girls.
Visitors to the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience can explore the 27,000-square-foot house to see and interact with “what they’ve only played with in doll size,” said Lori Pantel, vice president, global marketing for Barbie. “Barbie’s life-sized Dreamhouses will provide fans a new way to interact and engage with the Barbie brand while providing a memorable experience.” Each room of the house is filled with displays that allow kids to create virtual food items in the kitchen and even try on some of Barbie’s clothes in her closet.
It is this primping and commercialization that is leaving some outraged. Michael Koschitzki, editor for Socialist Alternative, told Der Spiegel that the display is presenting “an image of cooking, primping and singing, as if it were in some way life-fulfilling. The Barbie Dreamhouse is the expression of a conventional role model that isn’t OK”
Police removed the protesters from the site on Thursday, but that has done little to stop the mini-movement of feminists. A new “Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse” page on Facebook has been created to provide updates and already has more than 2,500 fans.
Reactions among the general public has been mixed, and while some agree with the protesters, others believe the exhibit that runs through August 25, and select European cities afterwards, will have little to no impact on how young girls see themselves. Girls are brought up in a diverse society that offers more than what the 54-year-old doll represents, and a three month long exhibit isn’t going to make that go away.