For the second time in a matter of months, I found myself indignant in the blindingly pink Barbie aisle at Target.
My daughter isn’t into Barbies and apparently, given my reaction to all things Barbie, that’s a good thing. But her friends are and I was there buying another sweet 7-year-old a birthday gift.
I am not one of those people who spends a lot of time railing against the distorted and unrealistic view of female beauty we are expected to live up to in our society. Yes, it bothers me to be held up to an ideal that doesn’t exist, to see supermodels airbrushed to some bizarre standard of perfection and stunning actresses who behind the scenes have teams of people working on every strand of hair and oversized pore. But I’ve been known to page through my share of fashion magazines and read a People or two in a waiting room.
And while I do hate that Barbie is marketed straight to little ones, she certainly isn’t the only skewed message my daughter is getting. So then, why my crazy Barbie Rage?
Maybe it’s because you can tell from Barbie’s vapid stare that she doesn’t have much going on upstairs. Maybe it’s because she’s a holdout from another era. She looks exactly the same as she did when I was ten years old and gave her a mohawk.
Where, I fumed, pacing the aisle, is CEO Barbie? Where’s President Barbie? And, if there was a President Barbie, would we really take her seriously? Certainly not unless she changed her name to Barbara and got a serious haircut. (But what 7-year-old would want a President Barbara doll with sensible hair?)
I’m well aware that there are diverse Barbies with different hair colors and ethnicities thrown into the mix, but you can tell they’re just token Barbies in a platinum blonde Barbie world.
But all is not lost! Despite what I saw in person, Barbie apparently has one impressive resume. Her website touts her more than 130 careers, from rock star to aerobics instructor. At Target, the only Barbie I saw with a job was a dog walker (pooper scooper included). Maybe she got downsized from one of her more prestigious jobs and is just doing what she needs to to put food on her tiny plastic table.
Her website proclaims that “Barbie doll continues to take on aspirational and culturally relevant roles while also serving as a role model and agent of change for girls.” It seems that Barbie is much more of an achiever than I have given her credit for!
Apparently, in the 60s, she went to the moon four years before Neil Armstrong. And in the 80s, she “took to the boardroom as Day to Night CEO Barbie.” Finally, in the 90s, she “ran for President, before any female candidate ever made it onto the presidential ballot.”
Well. I stand corrected. Barbie, you are truly an inspiration. All that and you still manage to look so unrealistically good! And even though by your very existence you are giving my daughter a message I despise, I have to admit I’d kill for your two-inch waist, oh-so-long plastic legs and your flowing mane of silky golden synthetic resin.
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