Reuters reports that the ban was unofficially passed in 1996, but that the "morality police" have only recently been cracking down on toy stores. In effect, a sort of black-market Barbie trade has blossomed...
... so the girls can get their fix.
Here's where the regulation efforts get most embarassing: A government agency called the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults tried to create an alternative to Barbie.
The doll's name is Sara, and she's smothered head-to-toe in traditional Iranian garb. Then there's Dara -- the moral, traditional version of Mattel's Ken. Both have horrific unibrows, and are reportedly selling like woolly scarves on a hot day.
So basically, there's a Barbie Prohibition raging in Iran, and kids aren't going to settle for no stinking grape juice.
This quote from one little girl's mother so perfectly sums up what's wrong with Western culture, yet how futile the resistance:
"My daughter prefers Barbies. She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat," said Farnaz, a 38-year-old mother, adding that she could not find Barbie cartoon DVDs as she was told they were also banned from public sale.
Best (and worst) thing about kids is they say exactly what they're thinking. Iranian officials can try as they might to affect a new generation's perception of beauty, but unless they stick them in a dark, Internet-less box and never allow them a glimpse of the outside world (aka, send them to China), their perception of beauty will remain a product of nature and greater societal nurture.
"I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile," a different toy seller tells an Iranian newspaper.
Yikes. Yes, it's a little depressing that unibrows will never be "in" and the ideal woman is marketed as having a 2-inch waist and complete absence of nose. But the children have spoken -- they know what they want.
(And for the record, it's not always fair-haired Malibu Barbie. This blogger, as a young one, was more about the Middle-Eastern, Jasmine-looking dolls. As long as she had sparkly eyeshadow and a bikini, whatever.)
We've contacted Mattel, whose headquarters are based in El Segundo, to see if profits have been affected by the ban. But we're guessing the thriving Barbie black market has ensured that Mattel's execs remain 1 percenters and its products keep clearing the Indonesian rainforests as before. Some things we can always count on to remain the same.