As if we didn’t have enough fat shaming to go around, there’s a new game on the App Store called Plastic Surgery For Barbara, and it’s a doozy.
The idea here is that Barbara (or Barbie, if you will) is overweight. The developers want kids aged 12+ to play a game in which they can assume that fat is ugly, and that the only way to fix a weight problem is through surgery.
“Barbara likes to eat a lot of burgers and chocolates and once she found out that she looks ugly,” says the App Store description. “She can’t make it up with this situation any additional second. And today plastic surgeon is going to make operation on her body and face in order to return cute Barbara’s look.”
So, she’s fat, which means she’s ugly, and she can’t wait any longer. If she just gets surgery, she’ll be “cute” again. Whew.
Developer Games Banner Network has a host of apps on iTunes that are ostensibly targeted to girls, with titles like Polly Babysitter, and Beauty Makeover Miley Cyrus.
I wouldn’t let my kids play any of these, either, as they just reinforce the same stereotypical gender roles as the Barbie liposuction app. Girls care for children and focus on their looks, these apps say. None of them say that girls need to learn math and science as well as how to watch toddlers and apply makeup. None of these apps focus on a girl’s need to learn right from wrong, or practice a musical instrument, or read a book once in a while.
Plastic surgery for Barbara has kids cutting into the girl’s sides and face with a scalpel, and sucking out the fat from those areas. They then must stitch up the wounds.
Once Barbara is bandaged and recovered, children can then dress the thinner “after” Barbara up in a host of pretty clothes. Because, obviously only thin women can have nice clothing.
It’s appalling that this app exists, of course, but what’s worse is that it’s a reflection of how we all are trained to treat women as objects. If you want your kids to live in a less misogynist world, I’d say skip the apps about the shame of being overweight and introduce them to games that help them become better people, empathize with others, and maybe, just maybe, skip treating being overweight as a horrific condition requiring surgery.