Doctor Who Barbie: time-travelling back to the sexist 1970s

Mattel’s limited edition doll of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor – including ‘signature suspenders and lace-up boots’ – has provoked protests over objectification

Name: Doctor Who Barbie.

Age: About a week old.

Appearance: Like Barbie, if she went to a Halloween party as the Doctor.

This is a doll we’re talking about, is it? Yes. The “Doctor Who Barbie doll is sculpted to the likeness of the 13th Doctor and comes dressed in her iconic look.”

What do you mean, iconic? These are not my words, but the words of the US manufacturer, Mattel. “Additional true-to-character details include Doctor Who Barbie doll’s signature suspenders and lace-up boots.”

I don’t remember any suspenders. Are they from a later, more risque episode? They mean braces – Americans!

And the doll is in the actual shape of the newest and first female Doctor, ie actor Jodie Whittaker? Sort of.

What do you mean, sort of? As Twitter user @MarryinB put it: “This doll’s hip/waist/bust ratio is more unbelievable than a 2,000-year-old alien with two hearts.”

Yes, it looks as if the doll has gone back in time 30 years, to when this sort of sexist objectification was acceptable in toys. Maybe, but the clothes and accessories are bang up to date: cropped trousers, lace-up boots and a tiny sonic screwdriver. “This Barbie doll is ready to time travel into your collection!” says Mattel.

How does that work? You order it now, and you get it in December, for £54.99.

Fifty-five quid for a plastic dolly? It’s fully posable.

Even so. It’s also a Gold Label doll, from a limited edition of 20,000 or fewer, aimed at the adult Barbie collector.

Sorry, at the what? That’s a rabbit hole you may possibly not want to go down, but trust me, it’s a thing.

What does the BBC have to say about this? A spokesman for BBC Studios, the Beeb’s commercial arm, said: “The doll offers fans and collectors a new way to celebrate the adventures of this iconic character.”

And what do Doctor Who fans think? They’re not all happy. “The Doctor had been a female less than 12 hours and they reduced her to a cliche plastic plaything,” said one. “Not all girls need to be Barbies.”

I’m confused – is this a good thing or a bad thing? It’s complicated: while Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is a positive role model for impressionable young girls, Barbie’s collectible incarnation sends a slightly mixed message to some already quite weird grownups.

Do say: “This may well constitute a retrograde step in our battle to counter gender stereotypes, but Christmas is coming, so I’ll take four.”

Don’t say: “Does it come in a plastic-free version?”

The GuardianTramp

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