A girl should be two things: Classy and fabulous.
~ Coco Chanel
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The other day, I woke up to an email from Barbie.com, promoting their limited edition 60th anniversary Career Dolls line. I’m not ashamed to admit it: At 33, I can still get excited over a pretty Barbie, so I was curious which careers would be featured. If there had been an artist doll, you’d better believe I’d snap it up in a flash.
Here’s how the website introduces the dolls:
Barbie career dolls have been inspiring kids to dream big and aim high for 60 years! She’s had more than 200 careers and continues to explore new professions. This collectible six-doll bundle celebrates some of her most iconic positions from her storied resume. Shoot for the stars with Barbie astronaut doll or soar through the sky with the pilot doll. Score points with the soccer player doll or climb the ladder to success with the firefighter doll. Report the news with the news anchor doll or make the news with the political candidate doll. Each doll wears an outfit for a day on the job, like a space suit or pilot’s uniform, and includes accessories that spark the imagination. Different body types, skin tones, eye colors and hairstyles provide endless storytelling possibilities and create aspirational fun.
Now, I love the idea of career Barbie dolls, I really do. But looking at these… I was completely UN-inspired.
I’ve been feeling that way about Barbies in general for quite a few years now. And looking at this picture, all I could think was, “They all just look so basic.”
Yes. That’s what’s wrong with how Barbie is currently being portrayed. I follow a number of accounts on Instagram where ladies show off their Barbie collections, mostly dolls from the late ’80s and ’90s, and I just recently made a comment on someone’s post that I thought there was no prettier face mold/paint than the 1990s’ Barbies. They’re pretty, they’re glamourous… even when Barbie was just heading to the beach, or out for an evening baby-sitting job, she looked put together, fabulous, and ready to take on the world.
Because Barbie is a woman, and women have that special ability to look amazing even when doing the most mundane things. We know how to put in extra effort.
But today’s dolls… they’re not glamourous. They’re not even pretty, in my opinion. They have the most generic faces and bodies imaginable, and while yes, you can now buy a Barbie in any of the 47 skin tones, with many other diversity options like plump Barbie and no-hips Barbie, varying sexual persuasions Barbie, etc….. she just looks so damn basic.
The whole magic of Barbie when I was a child, and when I got older too, was that Barbie is ANYTHING but basic. She’s ALWAYS glamourous, no matter what she’s doing. And if you want to add in all the diversity, okay. That’s fine. But Barbie is about the magic. Don’t make her look basic.
Because women weren’t meant to be basic either. Continue reading