Wednesday, January 2


Yes, I confess. I, too, played with Barbie as a child - and I enjoyed it. I'm guilty of this crime against Feminism. I could claim here, that my Barbie was more of an adventurer than of a model - and it would true. I could claim that I was too young than and society was not aware of the dangers of this 29-cm-doll then. I could also claim that it happened so long ago (I'm currently 33, after all). But I won't.

For Feminists, Barbie is some sort of red cloth. It's a sexist toy, they say. It objectifies women. It gives girls the wrong perception of the normal female body.

And, yes, they are right. On the other hand, no, they are not.

For a child, Barbie is not a symbol of anti-feminism. It's a toy. And it's a great toy for young girls, because unlike the baby-dolls you get otherwise (and who aren't any less sexist, only teaching girls what being a mother and housewife is like), it's an adult. Being an adult is the future for a child, so playing what it could be like is only a natural thing to do.

What to play with a toy, though, is another thing. Even though Barbie has had quite a host of jobs over time, she still is a model, mainly. A lot of games played with her consist of constantly changing her clothes and maybe hairdos. While being a model is quite a hard job, it also is something a lot of girls want to be these days. But, to be honest, a lot of girls dreamt of this when I was a kid, too. Models are in the media a lot and being famous is something most people dream of at one point during their lives. Being a model seems to be easier than being an actress or a singer, as there seems to be no talent necessary to do it, only looks. That's wrong, of course, because the really important and famous models also have a lot of charisma and are very professional.

And from the very beginning, Barbie was supposed to teach girls the right ways to act and dress as a grown woman, too. By playing with their dolls, they should learn about the right dresses for the right occasions, the right occupations for a woman and so on. Barbie has had a wedding various times (there are quite some different bridal dresses and whole sets for the wedding day) and mostly her friends have had babies (it's rarely Barbie herself who is sold as a doll with a baby inside). But poor Ken (and his successors) have never had a wedding night. So she has the perfect life of a 50ies TV character: relationship without sex, but a marriage before anything else could happen; children mostly as younger sisters/brothers or from friends. Even children of her own would have been acceptable, of course, after all, she was married.

Of course, there's always a difference between what a toy is supposed to be for and what it really is used for. A Barbie doll can be everything, it's only down to the imagination of the one using it.

And the imagination of a girl could contain a lot more than just pink, clothes and once being a model. It's down to other toys, to books and other media and the society to show her that.

Barbie is a controversial toy and one of the main hate-objects of Feminists. But it's not evil itself.

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