Friday, April 13, 2012


Barbie makes me cranky.

I think it might have always been this way - I had a Barbie as a kid who received a VERY short haircut and a big black smiley face tattoo right on the back of her neck. She was beautiful.

But, you know what? It's not Barbie's proportions that piss me off. (Although they are ridiculous.) Because, fair's fair, if we are going to lampoon Barbie for being a poor body role model to kids, we should veto the Cabbage Patch Kids too, the little chubbers. Kids live in a land of whimsy, and playing with proportion is a big part of that. If you want to make everything true to life, we'll have to ban all the friendly teddy bears, too, and only have mean ol' grizzlies in the shops.

But I digress. Now, plenty of people defend Miss B because she had some truly interesting careers - astronaut, teacher, engineer, architect, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

And this is the reason Barbie grates me. Even though she has been given awesome opportunities, her focus is still on her looks. She could be in the lab curing cancer, but still the most important aspect of her as a woman is her flowing blonde locks and tiny waist. To me, she's sending the message that in Barbie-land, no matter how hard you work, no matter how clever or strong you may be, no matter what you achieve professionally, unless you fit *that* image of a woman, you have failed to live up to the required idealistic stereotype.

Now, I've done some things. I've been some places. But my competence has never been judged off my dimensions or hairstyle, and nor should it have been. Whatever I came up against, as long as I was fit and smart enough to do the job and my appearance was neat, that was enough. I have seen some stunning women try in life, and succeed, but I have seen some stunning women try and fail. Their looks played only an infinitesimal part in their ultimate fate. But in Barbie-land, looks would be enough to save the princess or banish the ugly crone. This does not reflect my real life experiences, and I want my daughters to be taught the truth; that beauty, even considerable beauty, is not enough to save you if you are incompetent or stupid.

And that brings me to my next point. Would I trust a professional who obviously spends more time and more mental energy on her appearance than maintaining mastery of her trade? No. A look like Barbie's, with carefully arranged hair and full makeup, take considerable care to upkeep. I imagine that if she were my surgeon she would probably need to leave the operation halfway though my appendectomy to reapply her lipgloss. Not cool, Barbie. Not cool. I call Barbie's work ethic into question, and again I'd rather have my girls be workers than shirkers.

Add this all together, and I don't think Barbs and I could be friends. We're too different.

So she's not invited over to play. She can take her pernicious influence elsewhere. No scatter braining allowed by the nuclear physicists in my family! No trying to imply that my race car driving little girl is below standard because she wears flat shoes! (Hey Barbie, you know driving in heels is frowned up, right?) I'm keeping my kids on the straight and narrow. Do they still make Cabbage Patch Kids? I may need to hunt one down for Christmas.


  1. I've always wondered where anyone would find the time or money for the waxing, tanning, blow-drying, moisturising, manicuring, dieting, exercising, etc required to be supermodel looks. As you say - full time job. Now I'd better get back to my study - which also costs a fortune and takes much time!

  2. Believe me, after Barbie has been at your house for a while, she will not look so great....her hair does not stay perfect, her legs are often twisted on the wrong way and arms left flailing in all sorts of positions....and if you sit and listen to a three year old play with them , they arnt concentrating on how they look...they are bouncing them around together on the rug more often than not saying " Lets be friends...." ...I get you with the whole stereo type 'thing'...but I have big breasts, so my daughters may grow up thinking that all women have big breasts, what do you do? I think common sense with a lot of daughter has all my barbies, manky as they are....they are in no way 'beautiful' they are just dollies...I would be more worried about the stuff on teli these days....I will give you a heads up...dont ever buy My Little Pony DVDs...awful.

  3. I had Barbie dolls as a kid. My sisters and I loved playing with them and we would, for hours and hours. Some playtime scenarios transcended days. We weren't (and aren't) girly-girls. We spent a lot of time on the family farm and what we did, Barbie did; Barbie was a farm girl too. I have to be honest: I never thought much about her excessively large breasts or her teeny tiny waist. Nor did her big head and silly skinny legs bother me. But you know what did? The fact that she could only wear heels, which are so unsuitable to farm life. Barbie cannot wear flats. Poor Barbie will never know the comfort of sneakers or Ugg boots. She must have shin-splints and foot spurs from hell.

  4. Bratz dolls are the ones that creep me out. With their giant heads and feet and scrawny little bodies. And the horrible, tarty clothes. Like little nightclubbing goblins. They're like the before version of the girls on Snog, Marry, Avoid.

  5. I couldn't agree more. If only Barbie had a more realistic body and look that reflected the diversity of real life. Don't even get me started on Bratz dolls...

    PS. Bring on Army Barbie!

  6. Oh Lordy Lord....a Bratz doll has never entered my house....EVER.

  7. I am not so worried about Barbie's body shape as the way she dresses - ranging from nauseating to prostitution - as do those nasty Bratz dolls ew! I'm happy my girl hates dolls really because it means I don't have to have those fights about wearing outfits that are disrespectful to her own gorgeous self.

  8. I have 3 daughters. People keep giving us Barbies. I keep letting the puppy take care of them. Some of what you said, and other things like with all her incarnations, kids get the message they can do anything--and mostly they can, but the choices have consequences. The prevailing message seems to be "you can do anything and everything". The last bit ain't true.

  9. We have a NO Barbie, Bratz or Disney Princess rule in our house! Terrible role models for our children.

  10. We managed to get through till A's fifth Birthday without Barbie entering the house - then she had a party and every child walked through that door with the Blonde bombshell. To say that I am over Barbie is an understatement. Ready to do the barbie cull:)
    A, has my cabbage patch kid, she is much loved and her name is 'Linda' much nicer then barbie.
    Little dolly things that A also likes are the Sullivan family animals and little wooden dolls. Good luck on keeping the long legged thing out of your house.

  11. Barbie I can handle, it's those Bratz that bother me!