Iran declares war on Barbie

Iran is under siege and it's not going to take it anymore. First it was Stuxnet, the computer virus worm, then the assassination of its top scientists, and then it was sanctions. And now it's Barbie, the spawn of the Great Satan. Photo: Sara and Dara with Iranian women

EASTON, Md., January 21, 2012 — Iran is under siege and it’s not going to take it anymore. First, it was Stuxnet, the computer virus worm, then the assassination of its top scientists, and then it was sanctions. And now it’s Barbie, that spawn of the Great Satan.

So Iran’s morality police have declared war on Barbie, swooping down on all shops that sell the nefarious Barbies and demanding their removal or the shop will be closed down. Dozens of shops in Tehran have been already been shuttered in the crackdown, according to the semiofficial Iranian news agency, Mehr. The new order has forced other shop owners to conceal their cache of Barbies and her consort Ken while still selling them under the counter to meet the high demand of children who are not taking this edict lightly.

A mini-revolution is afoot in Iran and it’s little girls (and their parents) who are at the barricades demanding their right to own Barbies. Can the mullahs make children toe the line and eschew the insidious Barbie who brings what they call “destructive cultural and social consequences?”

The war on Barbie was first launched back in 1996 when Iran’s religious leaders declared the doll made by the U.S. company Mattel, Inc. as un-Islamic. However, the ban did not take hold. Shops were still peddling the busty blonde with Callista hair and all her expensive accessories.

Barbie up close

To counter Barbie and Ken, Iran then officially approved two new dolls, Sara and her twin brother Dara, dressed in traditional garb, and who were supposed to be Iran’s answer to Barbie and Ken. Sara, in accordance with the rule that all women in Iran must follow when in public, has her hair covered and wears shapeless clothes. Developed by the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, a government agency affiliated with the Ministry of Education, Sara and Dare were introduced “to promote traditional values and counter the American dolls,” according to Islam Today.

Then in 2002, the morality police once again started seizing illicit Barbie dolls from stores in hopes that Sara and Dara would win young hearts. As one toy seller, Masoumeh Rahmimi, said, welcoming Sara and Dara, Barbie is “wanton” and could lead young girls astray so they “grow into women who reject Iranian values.”

Then she added ominously, “I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile.” Even a Burka Barbie would not be acceptable, although it doubtful Mattel is interested in making one.

But not all toy merchants agreed. Said one anonymously, indicating a doll covered in a long black veil, “We still sell Barbies, but secretly and put these in the window to make the police think we are just selling these kinds of dolls.”

But no matter how hard the Iranian government has tried to suppress little girls’ rights to own Barbie and to channel their love to Iranian dolls, Sara and Dara have not become big favorites. Girls still crave their Barbies at all costs. Said one defiant child who prefers Barbie, Sara and Dara are “ugly and fat.” 

While the earlier anti-Barbie campaigns fizzled and were dropped, this past Friday, Iran’s fury was once again unleashed against Barbie. This time it is all out war. Death to Barbie.  

But the kids are not having it. Nor are their parents, who know where to go to slip the necessary rials to get a Barbie.

Who knew Barbies would become a children’s crusade? Certainly not the ayatollahs who claim they are fighting pernicious western values that corrode Islamic values. But with 45% of Iran’s population under 25, the morality police are on the losing side of history along with poor Sara and Dara, puppets of their regime.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib in the Communities at the Washington Times. She can also be heard on the Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.




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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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