When we first became aware of an app that let children play plastic surgeon by performing virtual operations on the faces and bodies of Barbie-like avatars, we were, in a word, shocked. So was the women's rights group, the Everyday Sexism project, who took it upon themselves to publicly criticize iTunes via Twitter for giving the app a platform.
To its credit, iTunes agreed that "Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie version" (as the app was so fetchingly called) violated its guidelines, and has since removed the app, but only after 4,000 people retweeted Everyday Sexism's original tweet-slash-complaint.
What got the folks behind Everyday Sexism so irate? For starters, try the app'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?" Yikes. That sounds more like the plot summary of a Japanese body mutilation film than an app for kids and tweens. And yet, it was aimed at children aged nine and above due to its "infrequent/mild realistic violence".
Some of the regrettable options offered by the app included the ability to make incisions into the avatar's skin to alter their appearance, or to give said avatar a local anesthetic before the incision is made. Thanks to the already impossible beauty standards set forth by a predominantly plastic Hollywood, children already put a lot of pressure on themselves to look a certain way, and plastic surgery is increasingly common among young people. Shame on iTunes for letting this slip by in the first place. As if the umpteenth iteration of Candy Crush wasn't bad enough. (The Gloss)