Apple assiduously bans porn-related apps from its digital store, but until recently, it carried a Barbie-branded game about plastic surgery that was designed for nine year olds. “This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her,” the game’s description reads. So let’s let children cut her open on their parents’ phones!
Like a gruesome version of Operation, “Plastic Surgery Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie Version” has players making “small cuts of problem areas” to “suck out the extra fat” from bloody slices on the poor woman’s cheeks and stomach. The outcome is a before-and-after picture set that shows a skinnier, fashionably dressed figure without so much as a visible scar.
Everyday Sexism, a project that documents overlooked incidents of sexism and harassment, originally brought attention to the app, which Apple quickly removed, as well as a similar version called “Plastic Surgery for Barbara.” Mattel has disavowed any relationship the sketchy game has to the actual Barbie brand (though their dolls have likely been the cause of any number of body-image problems over the past half-century).
Like the Internet’s thinspo community, in which participants post and share disturbingly skinny photos to inspire themselves to lose weight, the app gives body issues an unhealthy outlet that makes plastic surgery seem all too possible and easy. Which, as we all know from reality television, can actually have disastrous consequences.
Unfortunately, Apple still hosts a Plastic Surgery Simulator on its servers that proclaims “beauty is a right.”