Well if there’s one thing that has irked me more than anything this week, it’s the story of beauty surgery app ‘Plastic Surgery for Barbie’ created by Apple and Google, ‘suitable’ for children over the age of nine. What was creative brain Corina Rodriguez (yes, a woman) thinking when the proposal behind this monstrosity was put forward? In a time where young girls are more into vanity or under pressure to look good, this invention does little to educate girls about embracing their natural beauty. Rather terrifyingly, it gives them power through an app to pick and choose instruments to cut open a face and run a liposuction:
“This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her. In our clinic she can go through a surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful. We’ll need to make small cuts on problem areas and suck out the extra fat. Will you operate her, doctor?”
From breast implants to butt implants, plastic surgery has now been widely displayed by celebrities. Whether they admit it or not, the before and after pictures say it all. Splashed over magazines, plastic women are influencing young girls like never before. With technology at the fingertips, a free app download gives the opportunity to further play around with the idea that plastic surgery is ‘in’ and the solution to imperfections.
What further shook my senses was how this app could potentially create a thought process of criticizing a computer generated female and her looks. Number one, such a critique could very easily translate into real life criticism. Number two, it gives the wrong perceptions of how one can be pretty or attractive. Give a child a makeup palette or wardrobe collection and I’d be happy with that. Nine year old girls like to play around with lipsticks and eyeshadow. Give a nine-year old a scalpel however, and you won’t get my vote for most innovative app of the year Apple. A scalpel in the hands of a female medical student is what I envisage for women out there. So if you want to create an app use it to educate young girls.
The twitter backlash that the duo of Google and Apple received was deserved. Quite rightly, the app has been withdrawn. Look, Barbie will remain a part of most girls’ childhood life. It wasn’t a part of mine (never played around with dolls), but what we don’t need is ridiculous apps using Barbie to ingrain wrong messages about plastic surgery. So a little heads up to the next potential idiot who decides to dabble in such designing. THINK about whether your app design could influence young children in the wrong way.