“About three weeks ago the morality police came to our shop asking us to remove all the Barbies,” said a shopkeeper in a toy store in Tehran, capital city of Iran.
A range of officially approved dolls launched in 2002 to counter demand for Barbie have not proven successful. “My daughter prefers Barbies. She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat,” said Farnaz, a 38-year-old mother.
"I don't really get it. Why can we still see Spiderman and Action mans in Lego shops?" Effat, a mother of two boys asks me. I think but don't find any answer. "It's as clear as the sky. It's all about women." She smiles. I still don't get it. Maybe my mind is preoccupied with all the political issues like sanctions, United States policies and stuff. "Women are the basic columns of the building of this government. If you weaken them, change the way men and other women look at them and decide for their lives, you get to rule them so you get to rule the world."
I don't have kids of my own but I now understand it. Promoting early marriage is one of the things that "Dara and Sara" offer for Iran's children. Dara and Sara are two typical Iranian kids dressed in adult clothes usually seen in a farm; Dara is all powerful and glamorous while Sara is usually holding baskets, coals and food. Is it really fair to girls?
Dara and Sara were born as characters in elementary school books. Their story continues in tales in verse recorded on cassettes that hit stores along with the dolls. In their adventures the brother and sister help each other solve problems and turn to their loving parents for guidance. So far there's nothing wrong with the scenario but when it comes to kids, no girl accepts the fact that Dara is Sara's brother. The stories are so men-dominated that the role of Sara is limited to giving a couple of advice and obeying Dara's commands; A typical Iranian Husband-and-wife relationship.
"Dara" means Wealthy while "Sara" is a western name and doesn't have a meaning in Persian languages. It's no surprise that such naming can cause the feeling of emptiness in a little girl's life.
Iranian girls, just like any other girl living outside United Stated, love American culture. It's a good idea to save a country's own culture but is making Dara and Sara and banning Barbies the right way to do it?
By Elaheh Zohrevandi