Friday, October 1, 2010

No one Wears the Pants Here . . .

Oh, Mattel. Oh, Barbie.

I know, I know; Barbie is the icon feminists love to hate, pointing to her plastic thighs and giant, shit-eating grin and screaming that here is everything wrong with the way we are raising our little girls. Well, I consider myself a feminist, but I played happily with Barbies in my youth, and I see nothing wrong with giving my daughters Barbies to play with one day too.

But, I remember the Barbies back when I was a kid. Sure, there was Peaches n' Cream Barbie and Hair-Change Barbie (with hair that was, inexplicably, two different colors and lengths). You could buy Barbie a Dream House and change her shoes and clothes incessantly. But, I remember President Barbie, and Astronaut Barbie, and CEO Barbie. Now, I have stumbled across this generation's crop of "I Can Be" Barbies, and they are a little, well, disappointing.

Look at those boots, girls! And those striped arm warmers that serve no purpose other than to make her look pointlessly edgy! Maybe she should put them on her thighs, though it certainly won't help her if she needs to bend over during a dance routine. Now you too can be like Hannah Montana, only more plastic! At least this implies she can play an instrument.

No ER residencies for Barbie! Barbie likes wearing pink pants and high heels and torturing children with tongue depressers while she bandages owies. They couldn't even call her "Pediatrician Barbie", which would give our girls credit for actually listening anytime they go to the doctor's office. I think "Kid Doctor Barbie" would probably faint at the site of blood. And, I have never, ever seen a doctor's coat this fitted.

Okay, what? Are we saying that becoming a babysitter should be a life ambition? That's something you do when you're 15 to pay for the movies on weekends. This does not belong here. though, it has to be the first and only Barbie you can ever make sit on a comically tiny crapper.

Barbie is so glam while she emotes over the news! After all, news is about glamour, and not about current events. How about "War Correspondent Barbie", who wears a helmet and flak jacket?

This is the only Barbie in the bunch that even comes close to entering into a male-dominated arena. After all, she carries a cell phone! And a teeny, tiny pink laptop! And--gasp!--she's wearing glasses! We are progressive over at Mattell, by implying that Barbie can set up her own printer and knows how to use a Bluetooth.

Finally, I almost don't even need to say anything, but I'm on a roll with this rant, so why not? Amoung the group of "I Can Be" Barbies is this charmer: "I Can Be: A Bride". Mattel, this Barbie does not belong here. It is 2010, for Christ's sake; we should not be telling our daughters that it is acceptable to aspire to be nothing more in life than somebody's wife. Most little girls dream of a wedding someday (I know I did), but this Barbie does not belong in a collection with doctors or racecar drivers or even, for heaven's sake, rockstars. Bride Barbie is not a life aspiration or goal.

So Mattel, how about some real jobs for Barbie that plenty of women excel at but aren't typically "girly"? i'm not saying that being a vet or a pediatrician isn't a noble, hard-working profession, but how about thinking outside the pink-colored, plastic-fronted box once in a while? Like "Astrophysicist Barbie"? "Biochemist Barbie"? "ER Doctor Barbie"? "UN Ambassador Barbie"? I swear, you can still dress them in pink! But, let's give our growing generation of girls something more to dream of and aspire to be than babysitters or rockstars.


anastasiastarz said...

I kinda hate what Barbie represents, as it's there as part of the media that effects female's self-esteem, telling views that they are never good enough, to not be happy with what they got, to buy more makeup and short clothing. She represents an unrealistic view of women.

Elizabeth said...

I admit, I am a huge Barbie fan, and I am one of the most masculine girls I know. I don't shave, or wear makeup, or bother with my hair. Yet, I can't help but love Barbie.
I definitely agree with your assessment of the recent lines of work Barbie has been put in. In doll magazines that I read, they made a big deal about how Barbie was going to be a computer programmer, yet never mentioned that alongside the "geeky" doll, would be a glamorous one in a poofy wedding dress. I doubt that Barbie will ever be perfect. If we have a lot of "working" Barbies, we'll also have housewives who are upset that they are being represented.
I guess my point here is that at least Barbie has improved somewhat, although her adaptation to meet her new audiences expectancies is disappointed. I particularly dislike the new face mold. Have you seen Kelly? She looks like an alien!
Also, there was a Kelly doll in the 90's called "Potty Training Kelly" (tagline: She Really Tinkles!) that came with a miniature pink and white toilet. You are correct though, in that a Barbie doll was never previous sold with the miniature.
Sorry this comment is so long, but I love your blog and I love dolls, so I wanted to say some things!

Kimba said...

You need to meet my "kid doctor"...she dresses fabulously, and wears a tailored doctor's coat! Personally, I have to play devil's advocate & say, why NOT aspire to be a bride? Why not aspire to have a successful marriage? I'm not saying Barbie would have one, but why is it wrong for girls to aspire for the classical marriage & family when it is being lost more & more these days?

Anonymous said...

Yeah - those are pretty egregious. There's nothing inherently wrong with pink or fitted clothes or blonde hair - but somehow the whole packaged effect makes Barbie seem very girly and unprofessional.