Skipper doll a hip teen machine
by Wendy Grossman
The Augusta Chronicle
July 1, 1997
Kelly booted Skipper out of the Barbie’s little sister spotlight, so Skipper strapped on a training bra and hit the toy shelves last month as an all new, extremely keen teen.
“Skipper was becoming this middle child that no one was remembering,” says Sara Rosales, manager of Mattel’s public relations. “She gives little girls different ways to dream about what it’s like to be a teen-ager.”
Barbie was introduced in 1959 as a teen model, but now that she’s gone to medical school, joined an ice-skating show and become a mom, she doesn’t have as much time to worry about the prom.
So, to make Teen Skipper , Mattel scrubbed off some of Barbie’s makeup, made Skipper’s face a little less sculpted and shrank her breasts.
She’s 16 years old and “All grown up!” the box declares.
Sporting a skin-tight tank top, hot pink high tops and jeans cinched with a wide, white belt, she’s too teeny-bopper-esque for 90210.
Some Augusta teens are less than enthused with the play role model.
“It’s demeaning,” says Carrie Reif, 15, a sophomore at Greenbrier High School, scrutinizing the Skipper doll. “It makes girls look like bimbos. She says we all have to be skinny. It upsets me that it makes little girls believe that this is how they should look. I know girls who want to be as skinny as Barbie, and it just doesn't happen in real life.”
“Teens are bulimic and anorexic and we wonder why,” says Sally Metzel, 16, a junior at Augusta Prep. `”This teen Skipper just adds to it.”
Skipper’s outfit is snazzy and stylish, says Amy Loushine, 18, a freshman at the University of Georgia. But it’s a tad too trashy, she says.
“She needs to dress a little bit more conservative than that little top,” Amy says.
On the back of the hot pink, heart-spattered box, Skipper wrote a letter introducing herself to the lucky little girl who buys her.
“My best friend Courtney and I have a new friend named Nikki. We all love high school, hot hairdos and decorating ourselves with fun tattoos,” the box reads. “We also love hangin’ at the beach together, especially since we all just got these new swimsuits.”
“She sounds like a ditz,” says Alicia Jennings, 15, a sophomore at Evans High School, looking at the box in Wal-Mart on Bobby Jones Expressway.
“Hopefully that’s not what all of you think like,” says her mom, Beverly Jennings.
“Yeah,” Alicia says. “We have half a brain.”
Ms. Rosales says that Skipper is supposed to be void of personality.
In her fluorescent pink, clear-plastic purse Skipper has a glam magazine, something like a Trapper-Keeper and what could possibly be a geometry book. Maybe she reads it with her ice-blue Sandra Bullock shades.
Her best friend Courtney is white with brown hair and freckles, and Nikki’s black with lime green eyes. Maybe Mattel was aiming at making an array of women so that girls would have a positive image that it’s OK to be different. The three are just different shades of Skipper.
“They shouldn’t make them all look alike. Even the black doll’s nose is the same,” says Merry Dickerson, 15, frowning at the back of the box. “It's not fair that everyone has to all be like Barbie. Let’s all bleach our hair, get tan, get skin disease.”