Sexing up grade school

Barbie cosmetics are coming soon to a playground near you.

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Cute little pigtailed girls have long embarked on their first day of school with a pink Barbie lunch pail in tow. But soon enough — if a new marketing ploy goes as planned — they’ll be wearing lipstick, eye shadow and blush to match. That’s right, Mattel has partnered with Bonne Bell to produce a line of “girl-savvy” Barbie cosmetics for the grade school set — we’re talking girls age 6 to 9. The press release announcing the partnership says the line “will bring girls a fun, feminine and unique beauty experience, leveraging the unparalleled popularity of two globally loved brands.”

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Fun femininity, as I remember it at that age, meant going to town on a T-shirt with some pink puff paint and my brand-new Bedazzler. There might have been the occasional raiding of Mom’s makeup case, but the end goal was to laugh at the silliness of a little girl playing grown-up. But it’s no longer a game of dress-up when young girls have their own (real) makeup cases. An editor at Jezebel jokes that “the years between 1st and [4th] grades are a time when little girls should be running around, skinning their knees and learning swear words; after all, they’ve got an entire lifetime in which to learn to be sex objects!”

Barbie is only going where those Bratz tartlets have already gone, of course. But having already tackled lingerie for children, where won’t the Bratz franchise go?

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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