If Barbie Were Real
If Barbie Were Real, I think she'd say "please stop playing with me for your ideological games."
If Barbie were real, she'd be two years older than me, and pretty tired of being bashed by feminists for decades. That prodigious bosom would be far lower and her outrageously long legs quite possibly the recipients of new knees. Being a woman of a certain age, she'd be pretty philosophical about being admired and used and loved and hated and imbued with so much power over others.
Including the power to cause people to lose their minds: "
Back when Barbie and I were kids, we did a lot of dress-up and dreamed of being princesses and nurses and hot librarians. Then we grew up and got jobs and kids and therapy. We got clued in to the politics of our bodies, and although we couldn't change our bodies we decided to accept them. Even when we are six feet tall and have ginormous breasts and serious foot arch issues. We realized that no matter how people admire us it won't really make them crazy. No matter how much envy we have for others, life goes on. It doesn't define us. If mental illness was a matter of the world being so awful to us, holding unreasonable standards for us, dangling the unreachable before us - well then it would be even more common and less treatable. But it's not. Anorexia is a mental illness, not: too many envious thoughts, seeing too many pretty people or thin people or rich people or ones with better clothes. Barbie doesn't hold out an unrealistic ideal. She's a doll. No one became catatonic from Pet Rocks, or had snout implants because of Miss Piggy.
Personal Barbie facts:
- One of my dads knew the real Barbie - the one whose parents owned Mattel. They had a date. He says she was nice. Her brother's name is Ken.
- I really wanted a Barbie doll as a kid and finally my mom agreed. I was so excited. So we got there and I reached for that lovely one in the long white dress... and my mother balked. She wanted to know why I wasn't getting the black one. We argued racial and identity issues in the aisle. But the black one was Julia the nurse and the nurse's oufit was NOT the glamour I was going for at all! We got the Julia one. I didn't play with her. I wasn't denying my people. I just wanted a pretty dress and those impossible heels.
- As a good feminist mom, I bought my daughter trucks and books and Tinkertoys, and was very vocal about a "no Barbie" rule for gifts for my little girl's second birthday. Naturally, she got three Barbies that day anyway - all three were black. I can report that by the age of six all my daughter's Barbies (and they multiplied in a rainbow of skin colors, I might add) were re-named the "differently able" dolls - they lost limbs in their close quarters with the trucks and Tinkertoys.