Friday, August 30, 2013

C'mon Barbie, Let's Go Party

As a kid, I spent time pretty equally doing girly things and tomboy things.  I liked building forts, playing outside in the dirt, and playing various games or toys that sat along the gendered spectrum of childhood activities.  I could build some kickass stuff with Legos, but I could also rock the shit out of using an Easy Bake Oven.  But there was one toy that had more power over my childhood than I could ever realize, and that bitch’s name is Barbie.

Barbie has been influencing young girls for years and influenced me in a few key ways.  Frankly, in some ways I could have never realized until I got old enough to look back on it.  

1: Career Paths

If I decide to be like Barbie, I can go anywhere and do anything.  Seriously.  What hasn’t Barbie done?  She got a medical degree, served in the military, worked as an ambassador, worked in varying science careers, has a pilot’s license, and is fairly entrepreneurial. (See Here)   Not only does she do all of these awesome things, she manages to not age a day and get all this stuff done in a fairly quick time span.  She is either a wackjob with multiple personalities or she possesses the one ring.  And honestly, I’m more convinced it is both of these things plus a Santa like ability to get a lot done in a very short period of time.  So she’s probably a Time Lord.

2: Fashion

Barbie has taught me that I can wear whatever I want, whenever I want, even if it doesn’t fit the social setting.  For instance, I’ve always wanted to wear a ball gown around, just because I could.  So even if something is terribly unfashionable or not at all appropriate for the setting, I can wear it anyway.  Who wants to go ball gown shopping with me?  Plus as a kid, my mom let me dress myself and let me tell you, I never matched.  Fuck it, haters gonna hate.

3: Body Imagery

I never felt that Barbie personally attacked me, telling me I was chubby and I would never find my “Ken,” but I wouldn’t rule out that it had something to do with my body issues as a youth (and slightly older not really youth age).  Barbie’s proportions don’t exist in real life, and if they do then something unnatural is happening to attain them.  Barbie could have been anorexic or wearing her corset too tight, and that’s a bit much.  Recently, someone decided to take statistics and create what is a more realistic Barbie figure based on real averages of real women. And the results are an interesting comparison to the tall blonde we all know.

4: Sexual Curiosity

Anyone who had a Barbie and says they didn’t mash Barbie and Ken together to look like sex is lying.  When you’re a kid and you are trying to grasp this incredibly adult concept, you need a way to help yourself understand.  At that age, your known information is bits from movies and pieces of gossip.  It’s incredibly natural to take a tool that is at your disposal to attempt to understand.  If it’s any consolation, my Barbie was kind of a slut.

5: Independence

Barbie can be critiqued for a lot, but oddly enough she is a pretty great idea for being self reliant.  Sure she has Ken.  However, look at everything she does and does it all without him.  Barbie doesn’t come with Ken.  They aren’t a package deal.  Barbie’s only version isn’t House-maker Barbie.  She may have a man, but Barbie still gets shit done on her own.  And it’s a lot of shit at that, a.k.a look back at her career choices.

So whether you love her or hate her, Barbie isn't all bad.  And she's responsible for one of the most horribly catchy songs ever.  How much do you want to bet that Aqua will be playing in your head the rest of the day now?  Ah, ah, ah, yeah.

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