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'Pink stinks': Protests greet Berlin's Barbie Dreamhouse

Berlin's Barbie Dreamhouse Experience opened in Berlin on Thursday.
Berlin's Barbie Dreamhouse Experience opened in Berlin on Thursday.Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

BERLIN – It is possibly the German capital’s most visible new tourist attraction, but the opening of the bright pink Barbie Dreamhouse Experience was picketed Thursday by women’s groups protesting the “cliché of the female role in society.”

Only a stone's throw from Berlin’s fashionable Alexanderplatz shopping district, a water fountain in the shape of a huge pink high-heeled shoe now welcomes Barbie fans into a whole world of glittery, cerise-colored fun.

But while the city’s toy stores are filled with Barbie merchandise adorned with the slogan “Pink Rocks”, the protest includes a campaign called “Pinkstinks” that objects to “marketing strategies that allocate a limited gender role to young girls.”

The epicenter of doll devotion - only the second of its kind worldwide, after a similar attraction opened earlier this month in Florida -- is an interactive experience for its (mostly) young customers.

Organizers describe it as a “seemingly endless walk-in closet”, a life-size replica of Barbie's fictional Malibu home.

“It provides a completely new insight into the living interior and lifestyle of the most famous doll in the world,” said Christoph Rahofer,  of marketing company EMS which obtained the rights to the attraction from US manufacturer Mattel.

Visitors are greeted first by a large painting of Barbie smiling next to her love interest, Ken, then taken on a tour of her home that includes a bedroom and a stylish bathroom where a pink dolphin pops out of the toilet bowl.

Equipped with an electronic bracelet, real-world princesses can bake virtual cupcakes in Barbie's kitchen and listen to "Barbie talk" at touchscreen monitors.

The house is also equipped with a walk-in refrigerator and a huge pink piano playing happy tunes.

Visitors to the Barbie Dreamhouse in Berlin can try on her clothes.
Visitors to the Barbie Dreamhouse in Berlin can try on her clothes.Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

It’s too much for the taste of some Berliners.

About a dozen activists - including a man in a pink dress and a wig and a sign around his neck that said "Do you like me now?" - gathered in front of the attraction Wednesday.

Other placards read "Barbie is not my baby," "I will free you from the horror house" and "pink stinks."

“This dream world suggests that women can’t be anything less than beautiful and slim,” said Franziska Sedlak from protest group Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse. “And life is not about being beautiful all the time.”

The movement began in March when members of a youth group affiliated to Germany’s far-left party, die Linke, created an Occupy Barbie Dreamhouse Facebook page.

“Our protest is not directed towards little girls and their dreams,” member Michael Koschitzki said. “But, for us, this so-called Dreamhouse symbolizes the beauty craze and the discrimination of women in modern day life. It presents a cliché of the female role in society.”

Despite the criticism, the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience is expected to attract up to 3,000 visitors a day.

For her part, Barbie will pack up her enormous shoe and dress collection at the end of August, taking her pink paradise on a tour of other European cities.