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App sends revolting message to kids

On Dec. 5, an appalling  game was made available  on Google Play and on the iTunes store. The game, called Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie, calls for children to perform cosmetic procedures such as liposuction and collagen injections on an “unfortunate” looking woman.

Even though the game was removed from Google Play and the App store on Jan. 15, it should never have been allowed on these sites in the first place. It sent a disturbing message to its intended young audience of nine years old and up that we should all aim for shallow stereotypes of beauty rather than embrace who we are.

Efforts to remove the game came from the feminist group Miss Representation and their #NotBuyingIt campaign. This campaign helps boycott sexist and offensive media products through social media. #NotBuyingit contributed to a Twitter petition of more than 4,000 people to ban the game, which led to its eventual removal.

The following is the game’s description: “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?”

Are you kidding me?

It seems the game’s creator Corina Rodriquez feels that we need children judging women’s appearances earlier and in a more interactive setting. This can be seen in her other titles still available on iTunes, including Leg & Foot Surgery & Doctor and Hospital Office for Barbie.

For young children who are forming conceptions of beauty, as well as building confidence in themselves and their body image, games like this can be very damaging.

We need to challenge mainstream conceptions of beauty and body types, not promote them through plastic surgery.

The fact that this game is not an isolated case is mind-blowing. After Rodriquez’s original game was removed, a replica entitled Plastic Surgery was created and is still available on iTunes.

This version of the game includes the charming description, “Barbara likes to eat a lot of burgers and chocolates and once she found that she looks ugly. She can’t make it up with situation any additional second. And today plastic surgeon is going to make operation on her body and face in order to return cute Barbara’s look. She is afraid of all of this.”

Grammar mistakes aside, this game demonstrates a disgusting message for children, regardless of gender, about stereotypes of beauty and should be removed from iTunes as soon as possible.

The impact of such games shouldn’t be downplayed either, as according to the app description on Google Play, Plastic Surgery has been installed between 500,000 and 1 million times.

Let’s prove as a society that we are better than such awful games and demand that Google and Apple don’t provide a market for such disturbing messages.