Monday, May 14, 2012

Barbie Had It Right

Back in the 80’s, when I was a child, Barbie’s slogan was “We girls can do anything, right Barbie?” Now Mattel (Barbie’s maker) didn’t need this catchy slogan to reel me in.  Mattel had me with my first Skipper (Barbie’s little sister) doll.  I could write a whole blog on how every birthday, Christmas, Easter, and any spare pocket change went to the acquisition of all things Barbie (hang on, let me make a note of that for my blog topics list…and done).  However, that is not today’s topic.
While searching for cool pins on Pinterest this evening, I ran across a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt which said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  This is not the first time I’ve seen this quote.  In actuality, it has been a favorite of mine since high school.  However, for the first time, thoughts of Mrs. Roosevelt and Miss Roberts (for those who don’t know, Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts See here) came together in my head.
I’ve always had a strong sense of self-worth.  I had my share of being picked on in school, and while it was sometimes quite hurtful, it never made me feel inferior.  Do I attribute this to playing with Barbies?  No, I attribute this to having a loving family with great examples of strong women (not many people can say their grandmother was in the Navy during WWII).  I also knew that school was a temporary situation and not to let people get under my skin.
In the past decade or so, Barbie has become a controversial figure to some.  Her “unrealistic” proportions have some people up in arms.  To them, Barbie’s ample curves and svelte limbs represent the “perfect female form”, something that will cause little girls to succumb to eating disorders and plastic surgery in their pursuit of this look.  I’ve never quite understood this.  Barbie is a doll, which means she is a toy.  Children use their imaginations to play with said toy.  I don’t recall people being up in arms because Cabbage Patch Dolls have weird noses or signatures on their rear ends.  I don’t remember anyone rallying against He-Man and the Masters of the Universe for promoting rampant steroid abuse in the 6- to 12-year-old male demographic.
So keeping in mind that Barbie is a child’s toy, I believe her “can do anything” attitude is good for little girls.  Sure, most of the time Barbie is a teen-age model (so the original story goes).  However, Barbie has also been a doctor, a nurse, an astronaut, and a teacher.  She’s served in various branches of our military AND she’s been President.  With this feat, Barbie has achieved in make-believe what a real woman has yet to achieve (for a full list of Barbie’s careers see here).
I believe that if every girl or boy on the planet was told Mrs. Roosevelt’s wisdom in conjunction with Barbie’s can-do attitude, the personal heights these children could achieve would be limitless (unless they were studying calculus, where in fact there is a nasty little concept called a limit…but you get my point).  Isn’t that a powerful thought?
Until tomorrow - Melissa


  1. nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

  2. I'd forgotten about calculus limits! They gave me such a headache -- I was more of a derivatives kind of gal. ;)

    I'm a Barbie fan from way back, and I've always loved Barbie's can-do attitude. It was a lot of fun making outfits for her and styling her hair, sure, but it was even better to pretend that she was an explorer, an artist, a diamond thief. She really helped my creativity and storytelling to grow.

    I still have a ton of Barbies, actually. I was into fashion doll customization for awhile, giving my dolls new hair and makeup, and it was such a blast! I'm thinking of getting back into it. :)