She is known as a toy, collectible, icon, harbinger of doom…she is diminutive, stylish, robust…she is multi-racial, experienced, powerful…she is hated by feminists, loved by Ken, and cherished by little boys who have wanted to be little girls since 1959. She is Barbie. And if you don’t know who Barbie is, you need to get your head out of your ass and run away from the monastery.
How can you NOT know Barbie? If you are exposed to any type of media anywhere, you would know her – even remote communities in the deepest parts of the world with little-to-no electronic connectivity know Barbie. Yes, yes…I suppose there are some people who don’t know who or what Barbie is…but we can’t continue coddling the Amish, praising them for their exceptional furniture making skills, now can we?
What makes Barbie so unique in the realm of toys and dolls is that this doll started as a toy – and became a cultural deity. No other doll can boast that relevance, even in the slightest (hell, few toys actually have such bragging rights). So…Barbie is significant in her own right by just examining her history. Let’s take a look at a few other reasons why Barbie is important…
She continues to singly serve as a billion dollar industry. Who gives a shit if her sales are down? Well, I am certain Mattel does to some degree – but consider what the intrinsic value of owning a brand such as Barbie means to this corporate entity. With innovative and timely successes in its Monster High dolls and firmly established earnings in American Girl and Disney Princess…Mattel is doing just fine, thank you very much. And as long as Barbie continues to stand as more of a paragon than a product, Mattel will have absolutely no problem whatsoever in maintaining its de rigueur.
It is true that such industry challengers as Bratz hit Mattel hard…but Barbie, like Madonna, can always reinvent herself, whereas Bratz was pretty much stuck in one single look, one single genre. And as proportions continue to run amok in fashion doll sculpts, in the end nothing matters like Barbie matters. Because you see, if you simply slap a Barbie label on just about anything, that product borrows from the instant recognition Barbie has earned (yes, EARNED) over the last 55 years.
But aren’t those little girls who played with Barbie as a child puking their guts out in vain to seek that perfect body? I call bullshit on that one, too. Any person who claims that Barbie has such a tight hold on a child’s sense of self-worth has obviously not watched very much television, shopped in any store, or visited a fast food restaurant. Anyone who can blame a child’s toy for the woes of childhood neuroses is more concerned with protecting the ultimate responsibility of the parents (or the lack thereof, as the case may be).
How many parents use television as a babysitter? I’d venture to say that most parents under the age of 30 do. Have you watched TV lately? Advertisements constantly harp on you in louder-than-regular-programming messages that promote nothing but fear – you’re not skinny enough, your teeth aren’t white enough, your savings aren’t protected, you’re not satisfied – you are not happy – that is, until you try this or that product, and suddenly smiles all around. Fuck that. I mute my television when commercials air, and play a round of Angry Birds (also with the sound off, rightly so). Any type of advertising will somehow appeal to your fears, and who do you think are the most prone to fear? If you said, ‘Republicans’…you’d be partly correct. If you said ‘children’, you are not only right, but you would have also described every member of Congress (Republican and Democrat).
If parents took even one tenth of the time their children spent watching television or playing video games to actually talk to them, guide them, teach them…then they might know simple things like how to eat responsibly, treat other human beings, and that toys are toys. Children who look to toys as role models have shitty parents or guardians.
Simply put…Barbie is convenient as a powerful brand that, when attached to any message, makes it relevant, and without the licensing fees. So it should come as no surprise why we always have some annual reminder about why Barbie is destroying our society, children, women’s values, Far East labor camps, environmental balance, and yes, even religious beliefs (have you seen the hubbub over Burka Barbie?). If you want to get your message across, get your press release noticed, or shut down Twitter, associate Barbie with your product or message.
For the record, as I explained here – and despite a Mattel VP stating it makes Barbie easier to dress – anyone who has ever sewn a doll dress can tell you, Barbie’s proportions work in tandem with her clothing, and the way she appears fully dressed (bulky seams make Barbie look even odder than she does naked – everyone knows that).
If you are worried about how much plastic Barbie deposits on the planet, have a seat in that plastic chair, and buy a reusable plastic coffee cup from Starbucks with your plastic Starbucks gift card, cooling its searing temperature with a splash from your plastic bottled water and reading this blog on your tablet, that when disposed of and festering in a landfill somewhere, will leach all kinds of Godzilla-creating gay hell on your pathetically environmental-saving Puritan asses. You want a healthier environment, ban fast food companies, and kill two birds with one stone.
Really. And if Barbie is such a harm to young girls’ images of themselves…then what in the hell do you think they get from shit like this? And our poor boys – thank you for emasculating them early on by allowing them to think they could actually look like this. Shame on you, you hypocritical pervs.
It’s not enough that Barbie, as a product, is over 55 years old (hell, the Oreo cookie turned 100 this year!)…it’s not enough that this fashion Queen contributes to a multi-billion dollar industry through both direct and indirect influence. No…it’s not enough that the number of jobs on a global scale can be traced to our miniature pink powerhouse. Why…it’s not even enough that whenever someone needs to make a statement about body image, violence, morality, capitalism, religion, or fashion – they invoke the Goddess.
Barbie is and will always be relevant – for the rest of our known existence. And you can’t do one goddamned thing to stop her. She’s not only important, she’s simply too big to fail – and I’m not talking about her tits.
Happy 55th Birthday, Barbie – You’re break is over, now…get back to work squashing the other little dolls out there.