Imagine a website that encourages plastic surgery and extreme dieting in the search for the perfect figure.
Not hard to imagine, right?
Now imagine such a website designed for girls as young as nine.
Welcome to www.missbimbo.com, a website that encourages girls as young as nine to embrace breast implants and face lifts, along with diet pills for weight loss. In the guise of a virtual reality game, prepubescent girls are encouraged to buy their virtual characters breast enlargement surgery and to keep them “waif thin” with diet pills.
Aimed at girls age nine to sixteen, the site attracted 200,000 members during its first month of operation in Britain. The French version of the site boasts 1.2 million players.
The goal of the game is to keep a constant watch on the weight, wardrobe, wealth and happiness of their character to create “the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the world.” Participants compete with other children to earn “bimbo dollars” which are then used for plastic surgery, diet pills, facelifts, lingerie and fashionable nightclub outfits.
Targets are set for users, such as:
Level 7: After you broke up with your boyfriend you went on an eating binge! Now it’s time to diet…Your target weight is less than 132lbs.
Level 9: Have a nip and tuck operating for a brand new face. You’ve found work as a plus-size model. To gain those vivacious curves, you need to weigh more than 154lbs.
Level 10: Summertime is coming up and bikini weather is upon us. You want to turn heads on the beach, don’t you?
Level 11: Bigger is better! Have a breast operation.
Level 17: There is a billionaire on vacation…You must catch his eye and his love! Good luck!
According to The Times of London, healthcare professionals, a parents’ group and an organization representing people suffering from anorexia and bulimia criticized the website for sending a dangerous message to impressionable children. Founders of the site admit that the story in the script for the game had been created by “lads” and no professional advice was sought about how girls may interpret issues surrounding weight loss and gain.
Yet The Times also reported that the site was perhaps simply a reflection of an already existing reality, as its introduction came as research showed that children as young as six were developing acute eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, and increasing numbers of teenagers were undergoing breast enlargement surgery.
Nick Williams, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, said that he was appalled when he saw his daughters Katie, 9, and Sarah, 14, on the site pondering whether to buy their character breast operations and facelifts. “I noticed them looking at possible breast operations and facelifts at the game’s plastic surgery clinic…It is irresponsible of the sites creators to be leading young girls astray. They are easily influenced at that age as to what is cool and these are not things they should be encouraged to aspire to before they are old enough to be making up their own minds.”
Since the media firestorm, the site has been temporarily inoperative, with the following statement, among others, on the main page:
*Due to unforseen worldwide interest in Miss Bimbo we have had difficulty in maintaining our game in the manner players have become accustomed. We are sorry for this inconvenience and can assure you that our game will be up and running as soon as possible.
*As a result of this rather surprising media attention we have decided to remove the option of purchasing diet pills from the game. We apologise to any players whom this may inconvenience but we feel in light of this weeks proceedings it is the correct action to take.
*We would also like to sincerely apologise to our players for the media comparison of Miss Bimbo and Paris Hilton. We feel that this does a dis-service to the players whom send their bimbos to university, tea parties or chess tournaments.
*At this time we would also like to remind players that the Miss Bimbo team assume no responsibility or liability for any fashion faux pas, hair style disasters or boob jobs incurred in real life as a result of playing the Miss Bimbo game.
Whew. Once again moral outrage wins the day.
Now if someone will only tell Mr. Williams from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and the other parents of the 200,000 children who participated on the site to consider taking their concern one step further.
Like keeping their girls off such sites to begin with.
James Emery White
“Outrage at Bimbo website for girls,” The Times (London), Tuesday, march 25, 2008, p. 3 (www.timesonline.co.uk).