Photo by Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images
Malibu Barbie is under attack again – this time by Iranian government officials trying to keep Western culture off their screens and store shelves.
The Associated Press reports that in a recurring crackdown, Iranian police have closed down dozens of toy shops in the country for selling Barbie and friends and have begun confiscating the iconic dolls. Islamic leaders contend that Barbie, who is famous for showing off her freakish hip-to-waist ratio in glittery swimsuits, contradicts the modest dress code and gender roles promoted in Iran.
The Washington Post reminds us that Iranian officials called Barbie a "Trojan horse" for Western culture back in 1996. Then several years later, Iran launched an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Barbie from her perch near the top of young girls' wish lists, even providing Iran-appropriate alternative dolls, Sara and Dara, which came with traditional clothing and an emphasis on family values.
But the plastic sibling duo was no match for Mattel’s symbolic 53-year-old product. "My daughter prefers Barbies," Farnaz, a 38-year-old mother, told Reuters. "She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat."
The Barbie ban is part of Iran’s so-called soft war on Western influences, according to Global Post. At a time when the country faces strict sanctions from the West, the Islamic Republic has beefed up its restrictions on American television shows, movies and products that are popular with Iranian youth.
But Barbie might still win her war.
A 40-year-old toy shop manager in Tehran explained the toy-selling situation to Reuters, like so: "We still sell Barbies secretly and put these [Sara and Dara] in the window to make the police think we are just selling these kinds of dolls."
And, because we know you're wondering, here's what the aforementioned Sara and Dara look like. (Sara is in the middle and on the right; Dara is the one on the left):
Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images