Apple Removes App Following Twitter Uproar Over Sexism

January 15, 2014
Apple Removes App Following Twitter Uproar Over Sexism

An online campaign successfully petitioned Apple to remove an application from the iTunes Store that people felt was sexist and irresponsible. The game, called Plastic Surgery & Plastic Doctor & Plastic Hospital Office for Barbie Version, encouraged girls as young as nine years old—it was rated as 9+ in the App Store— to perform procedures such as liposuction on a doll.

"This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her," the app's description read. "In our clinic she can go through a surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful. We'll need to make small cuts on problem areas and suck out the extra fat. Will you operate her, doctor?"

The Everyday Sexism Project, based in London, led the Twitter movement for the app's removal, calling the game "crap."

"These apps promoted the idea, to girls of a very young age, that their looks and the shape of their bodies is the sum total of their value, that being thin is the ultimate goal, and that the only way to 'fix' their bodies is to turn to surgery," the project's founder, Laura Bates, wrote in an email to us. "The apps drew over-simplistic links between appetite, obesity and surgery, and utterly left out the sensible notion of healthy exercise."

Bates said she was not surprised by Apple's swift action, noting "thousands of people were equally concerned about the apps as we were."

As soon as Bates discovered a similar application on Google Play, she also began to direct tweets toward that platform. Like Apple, Google acted quickly, removing Plastic Surgery from its storefront.

A person identified as "corina rodriguez" developed the app. A search of the iTunes Store yielded over 25 other programs created by her. The subjects include other Barbie-themed makeovers, Justin Bieber, and action games. All of the apps are free; none seem to be officially licensed by the figures they depict.