A Barbie World?
Posted by MyLaowai on Wednesday, March 11, 2009
There’s a lot to celebrate this year, isn’t there? China is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of Communists, Tibet is celebrating the liberation and subsequent deaths of a million monks, and Barbie is celebrating her 50th birthday.
Ain’t that something? Barbie, that delightfully pink plaything of little girls everywhere, turning 50! Wow!
But Barbie isn’t the only plaything to be having a birthday this year, nor is she the only doll with a claim to fame. What many people in the decadent West don’t realise is that Barbie herself was a copy of another doll, Bild Lili, a prostitute doll from Germany, who was in turn a copy of the original slut doll for little girls, known as Shanghai XiaoJie. And XiaoJie is celebrating her 5,000th birthday this year!
XiaoJie’s creator, Wang XiaoJie, watched her seven year old daughter playing with paper dolls, and noticed that she frequently gave them adult roles such as courtesans and whores, and often bound their paper feet to stop them running away. Realising there was a gap in the market, Wang XiaoJie sold her daughter to the local knocking shop and with the proceeds created the original Shanghai XiaoJie doll.
XiaoJie was from the very beginning based closely on the typical Shanghainese girl, vaguely female-shaped with small, underdeveloped plastic tits and an ass like a young boy. She had no heart at all, was very expensive to purchase, and even more expensive to maintain. As with Barbie, she was entirely artificial and had exactly the same scintillating personality and piercing intellect.
XiaoJie has had her appearance altered over the years to keep her in line with current fashions, most notably in 1958 when she was remodelled to have her ribs showing through her skin (‘Great Leap Forward XiaoJie‘), and again in 1965 when her hair was cut short and she was shown murdering all the other dolls (‘Cultural Revolution XiaoJie‘). Yet despite this, Shanghai XiaoJie has always been a plaything of the proletariat, and in this she has remained true to the original vision of her designer.
XiaoJie has not been without controversy, as these examples illustrate:
* In September 2003 Saudi Arabia outlawed the sale of XiaoJie dolls, saying that she did not conform to the ideals of Islam. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stated “Shanghai XiaoJie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of the decadence of the perverted East. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful.”
* The word XiaoJie has come to be used as a derogatory slang term for a girl or woman who is considered a slut, most notably in the 1997 pop song ‘XiaoJie Girl‘.
* In July 1992 the manufacturer released Teen Talk XiaoJie, which spoke a number of phrases including “Will I ever have enough clothes?“, “I love shopping!“, “Wanna have a noodle party?“, and “Math class is tough!“. Each doll was programmed to say just four out of 270 possible phrases, as that was considered to be the mental capacity for most Shanghai girls. In October 1992, following a number of complaints from the Mayor of Shanghai, the manufacturer announced that Teen Talk XiaoJie would no longer speak, as speaking in public was not a traditional virtue for a Chinese girl, and offered a swap to anyone who owned a XiaoJie doll that did.
* May 1997 saw the introduction of ‘Share a Snarl XiaoJie‘, a doll in a pink wheelchair. Li Xianshang, a 17-year-old high school student with cerebral palsy, pointed out that the wheelchair would not fit through the door of XiaoJie’s Dream House. The manufacturer announced that it would redesign the house in the future to accommodate the disabled doll out back in the dog kennel.
* In March 2000 stories appeared in the foreign media claiming that the materials used in XiaoJie dolls could leak toxic chemicals, causing danger to children playing with them. The claim was rejected as false by technical experts.
Yet despite all this Shanghai XiaoJie continues to go from strength to strength, and has spawned a range of other dolls who compete to be her number one boyfriend, buying her expensive fish-head dinners and mobile phones for the right to pretend she loves them.
Here are just a few of the many XiaoJie dolls that have been released over the years: