The newest toy in Mattel’s Barbie empire is a pink vanity mirror with lights that parents can snap their iPads into. By downloading the accompanying app, little ones can start to smudge glittery eye shadow all over their faces, except without the mess of actually touching glittery eye shadow. They take a brush, dip it into the color they want, and just start painting their face. Some super cool recognition thingy-ma-bobber recognizes what you’re doing and applies the pretend cosmetics. You can glop as much make-up on as a Barbie without actually using any make-up.
I suppose, as a mother, I should be thrilled about this little gadget. It’s the fun of a little girl playing “make-over” with her mom’s make-up and none of the clean-up. You don’t have to worry about your three-year-old drawing all over her brother with your $50 tube of Marc Jacobs lipstick.
At the same time, I have to admit that I have a few issues. First, if there’s anyone whose make-up I don’t want my daughter replicating, it’s a Barbie’s. Have you checked those girls out lately? It’s like a little glitter rainbow on their eyelids. They’re wearing more make-up than a Comic-Con attendee. The whole point of playing in mom’s make-up is looking like mom, or ya know, a normal human adult.
Secondly, doesn’t the fun of playing with make-up kind of come with the mess of playing with make-up? All the brushes and textures and ridiculous stuff you can draw on your face. It’s really a tactile experience. I feel like virtual make-up application just isn’t the same.
Listen, I’m a mom who has no problem with her daughter playing in make-up. I don’t have an issue with Barbie. My daughter plays with her Dream House on a weekly basis. And yet… I’m hesitant about this toy. Digital dress-up just doesn’t sound all that great. Virtual make-up is just not the same as a bunch of brushes and my mom’s huge Mary Kay case, with 20 different eye shadows and four different blushes. If I don’t have to dunk my daughter in the bathtub after she’s played with my make-up, was it really worth doing at all?
Sorry Barbie. I think this is one hi tech toy that simply can’t compete with the real thing.