While babysitting earlier this month, I made an offhand comment about having 100 Barbies. This is perhaps an exaggeration, but I certainly had no less than 60. The little girl I was watching told me that her mother doesn’t like Barbie and thinks Barbie is stupid. (Possibly not the word she used. I don’t think this family uses that word, but it was something close to it.) She’s almost 5 years old, and she said this a little sadly while holding her one Ariel doll (from The Little Mermaid).
Clearly my parents had no such reservations, and Barbie in the 80s was a totally different doll than she is today, in many ways. But the thing she has never been in my lifetime is stupid. Barbie taught me that a woman can be anything she wants – a doctor, an astronaut, a rock star, a veterinarian, a teacher (like my mom) – and can look good doing it. (Many episodes of What Not to Wear have shown me that this is a hard lesson for women to learn.) In recent years Barbie has added such professions to her resume as computer engineer, architect, and art teacher (like me!). These are not the career paths of a stupid woman! On top of all that, she still leads a vibrant social life, apparently raises a slew of siblings, and maintains a healthy relationship with no visible signs of codependency. (We won’t talk about the Blaine years.) Isn’t this the type of superwoman we’re told we should be?