Another Battle in the War between Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery: Plastic Surgery for Barbie game.

Tension between Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery

How much lipo and how many boob jobs can highly-trained surgeons allow themselves to do? I tend to side with those who ask this guilt-inducing question. The notion being that so many people in the US, not just around the world, need the services of doctors who’ve completed 4 years of college, 4 years of med school, a year of internship, and years as surgical residents. Then, plastic surgery specialization tops off their training.

Besides patients with  birth defects, countless victims of accidents, fires,  and cancer need the services of plastic surgeons who fix faces and repair and reconstruct the complexity of injured delicate hands. To devote a disproportionate amount of time to liposuction, face lifts and breast augmentations for well-off 8’s who want to be perfect 10’s seems, well, criminal to many.

Such people just won a victory via a Twitter-based protest by getting Apple to stop making a free DIY plastic surgery app available via iTunes. But protestors weren’t able to prevent hundreds of thousands of downloads from occurring, many by children as young a 9 years old.

According to one report, “The game’s description asks users to help Barbara, who “likes to eat a lot of burgers and chocolates” and “found out that she looks ugly”.It asks users to perform plastic surgery “on her body and face in order to return cute Barbara’s look. However, a replica of the game titled Plastic Surgery for Barbara remains on the Apple-owned digital store and Google Play store for Android users.”

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Another commentator writes: “The game is simple. The player taps on the proffered surgical tool, then taps on the body to use it. Helpful arrows show what to do. Liposuction involves local anaesthetic, a scalpel, and something that looks like a bicycle pump. The poorly programmed controls and slow animations means it takes about 10 minutes to finish. Once the surgery is over there’s an opportunity to play dress-up, with a choice of a few hairstyles, dresses and shoes.”

A complete telling of the story follows, courtesy of Yahoo news for 1-15-14:

An online campaign successfully petitioned Apple to remove an application from the iTunes Store that people felt was sexist and irresponsible. The game, called Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie Version, encouraged girls as young as nine years old—it was rated as 9+ in the App Store— to perform procedures such as liposuction on a doll.

“This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her,” the app’s description read. “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?”

The Everyday Sexism Project, based in London, led the Twitter movement for the app’s removal, calling the game “crap.”

“These apps promoted the idea, to girls of a very young age, that their looks and the shape of their bodies is the sum total of their value, that being thin is the ultimate goal, and that the only way to ‘fix’ their bodies is to turn to surgery,” the project’s founder, Laura Bates, wrote in an email to us. “The apps drew over-simplistic links between appetite, obesity and surgery, and utterly left out the sensible notion of healthy exercise.”

Bates said she was not surprised by Apple’s swift action, noting “thousands of people were equally concerned about the apps as we were.”

As soon as Bates discovered a similar application on Google Play, she also began to direct tweets toward that platform. Like Apple, Google acted quickly, removing Plastic Surgery from its storefront.

A person identified as “Corina Rodriguez” developed the app. A search of the iTunes Store yielded over 25 other programs created by her. The subjects include other Barbie-themed makeovers, Justin Bieber, and action games. All of the apps are free; none seem to be officially licensed by the figures they depict.”


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