Two advocacy groups appealed to Girl Scouts of the USA on Thursday to drop its partnership with the company that makes Barbie, arguing that the iconic doll sends a negative message to young girls.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for a New American Dream, organizations that fight corporate advertising tactics they see as detrimental, started a joint petition to pressure the Girl Scouts to sever ties with the toy maker Mattel.
“Beyond the thinness and the hyperconsumerism, there’s also the fact that Barbie is part of a culture that encourages girls from a very young age to define themselves through appearance and play-sexiness,” the Center for a New American Dream said on its website.
“Holding Barbie, the quintessential fashion doll, up as a role model for Girl Scouts simultaneously sexualizes young girls, idealizes an impossible body type, and undermines the Girl Scouts’ vital mission to build ‘girls of courage, confidence and character,” Susan Linn, a spokesperson for Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said, according to the Associated Press.
The Girl Scouts announced the partnership with Mattel last summer. It includes a website, a Barbie-themed activity book and a Barbie participation patch that reads “Be anything. Do everything.”
Barbie is no stranger to controversy, and the doll has been widely criticized for its unrealistic body proportions.
The Girl Scouts rejected the advocacy groups’ request, the AP reports. “We stand behind this partnership, as it helps us bring to over 2 million Girl Scouts the message that they can do anything,” the organization said in a statement.