Barbie: Feminism's Best Friend or Worst Enemy
Ask any five year old American girl who Barbie is and she will most likely run into her bedroom and grab Barbie off the shelf. She will frill up her mini skirt and try to make her walk in her tiny plastic heels. Excitedly, she will hold her up for you to admire.
A tiny miniature woman will stand in front of you, only about six inches tall. Her long blonde hair accents her sparkling blue eyes and huge white smile. Her long plastic legs bend only slightly and her pointy breasts perk out of her hot pink tank top. She doesn’t look like anything a five year old would play with, but Barbie is obviously her favorite. How does a five year old relate to Barbie? She isn’t comforting to cuddle with, you can’t change her diapers and put her to sleep in her crib. Barbie is an indendent woman, standing tall over baby dolls and stuffed animals and other juevinile toys young girls display in their bedrooms.
The majority of toys that little girls played with a hundred years ago were toys that dealt with the home. Miniature tea sets and rag dolls protrayed a girl’s future life and mimicked her mother’s behavior. Barbie was not created quite yet, the sexy image and revealing clothing would be offensive, even immoral, when girls were supposed to stay home and take care of the children.
It wasn’t until the 1950’s that Barbie was first introduced. She shined brightly from her pink cardboard package next to the dozens of baby dolls surrounding her. Barbie was stunningly different. She was a woman, not a baby doll, she had no spouse, she had no children, she drove a sports car, and she was sexy.
As Barbie became a household word, the mindset of mothers in America was changing ...
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...moved beyond the stereotype of growing up only to become a housewife. But eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have also reached an all-time high. Girls at the young age of twelve are already looking in the mirror and starting to count calories. Could Barbie have had anything to do with this?
Who is Barbie? What exactly does she represent? Does she symbolize independence, glamour, wealth, and success? Or does she symbolize sex, a false body image, and an unacheivable identity?
Barbie’s not going anywhere, and chances are, she will be sitting on the next generation’s bedroom shelf, wearing the latest clothing, and still displaying her bright smile. It is up to our generation, as mothers and fathers, to teach our baby girls who Barbie really is. It is important they not only love Barbie for her unattainable beauty, but for her strong feminity.
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Piercy, Marge. "Barbie doll." Portable Legacies. Ed. Jan Zlotnik Schmidth and Lynne Crockette. Boston: Wadsworth, 2013. 589. Print.
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