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Plugged In

Apple, Google yank controversial plastic surgery game aimed at kids

Plugged In

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Plastic Surgery for Barbie (Credit: Corina Rodriquez)

Apple and Google have both pulled a controversial plastic surgery ‘game’ aimed at children from their app stores after a hailstorm of criticism.

Plastic Surgery for Barbie (on iOS) and Plastic Surgery (on Android) were both removed from the storefronts this week. The games encouraged children to perform plastic surgery on an overweight girl the games described as “ugly.”

"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?? [sic]"

The game was rated for kids aged 9 and up.

Critics, including plastic surgeons, were quick to blast the app.

"This app blatantly and shamelessly uses child-friendly brand names [such as Barbie] to target young, vulnerable children and exposes them to sexist and disturbing rhetoric as the 'game' critiques the body of a cartoon character who does not conform to an unrealistic beauty standard," former British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons president Nigel Mercer told the BBC.

"It is just so sad that we are sending that message to children as young as nine that the ideal body is all that they should be aiming for and that the way to get it is by cutting their bodies apart,” added Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project

Mattel, which owns the rights to the Barbie doll franchise, was quick to distance itself from the app, noting that it was an unlicensed, unauthorized use of the character.

Body image issues are a growing problem among teens and children. CNN has written extensively about the problem, including one case where a 5-year-old was concerned about her weight due to taunting from classmates.

Though this app was pulled, the developer, Corina Rodriquez, has plenty of other questionable apps available on both stores, including the likes of Leg & Foot Surgery & Doctor & Hospital Office for Barbie as well as other Barbie games that appear to also be unlicensed.

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