You’re getting double the dose of TGIFWPF! (I’ll never be able to keep this pace. Prepare for disappointment.)
In the US, there have been rumbles and grumbles for several years about the Barbie doll setting up impossibly high standards and false hopes in our young children. The claim is that her figure inspires low self esteem, eating disorders, self loathing, etc. I don’t think the general issue of Barbie’s world being pink or pinning all of her romantic hopes on Eunuch Ken has been a source of complaint. Mattel has done a lot to try and move Barbie along with the times. They’ve given her friends who have different hair color and skin color. She’s had career clothing. What more could you ask for America?!
Sales must have been in a slump because Mattel has announced “multiple body types” Barbie. No she isn’t made of stretchy moldable material. (Although that would be cool. You could have Yo Yo Diet Barbie or HGH Barbie with a fabulous growth spurt.) In order to make Barbie more “relatable,” she is now available in many sizes, shapes and colors. I’ve got the picture to prove it.
There was a paradoxical tweet from Barbie asking for everyone to stop talking about her body along with the announcement of all of the new body styles. It was a grand marketing gesture, shouting “Don’t notice me!” Yet here I am talking about Mattel’s new product line. Let’s slow clap for whoever sat at the meeting and approved this idea. I can almost see the conference table with some imposing figure seated at the head saying, “This is it! We can make all of the accessories in different sizes and styles so children will beg for the whole collection. We’ll come across as the new, sensitive, body conscious, forward-thinking toy company. We’ll be the talk of the town and, most importantly, we’ll sell lots of products. Well done, Bob/Phil/Cody/whoever.”
Now little children can be even more aware of sizes and various differences at an earlier age.
“Momma, I want this outfit for my doll.”
“Sorry sweetheart, that one only fits petite hispanic Barbie. I bought you tall, slightly asian Barbie. You could have your doll try it on and weep in the dressing room for a true-to-life experience.”
“But Mommy, there aren’t any tall hispanic ones.”
“I know dear; Mattel wants you to have one that represents You. One that you connect with so you can have a realistic experience while you pretend to have fabulous jobs, jets, mansions and sports cars to be enjoyed with your trusty eunuch.”
“Mom, what’s a eunuch?”
“Oh he’s nobody. Let me empower you by having you make a choice. Would you like to go to McDonalds? You can have the super size….”
Let me know when they offer socially awkward Barbie. This doll can come with a smart phone stuck to her face. She can have an entire line of “friends” who also have smart phones stuck to their faces. (Can’t you just see the tiny, pink selfie sticks that come with each doll!?! Super inexpensive to make. Nothing but profits, baby!) Maybe Mattel could embed some apps and profiles that go with each doll and a Barbie media reader so our kids never look up from glowing screens again. This doll can come with a smashed vehicle because Barbie was texting while driving. Then, just in time for the holiday toy rush, we can upgrade to the car that drives itself. Now you’re really
selling sending a socially responsible message, Mattel! Barbie needs to get to her job in luxurious comfort and be able to play online. She needs to stream all of her favorite Mattel branded programs and use the in-app purchasing to enhance her virtual experience so that she can only afford to live a virtual life. She needs to lose the ability to communicate for herself and rely heavily on simply re-posting the content and thoughts of others. Perhaps she only needs one articulated thumb that she can pose in thumbs up mode so she can “like” things. After all, there is no “dislike” button in Barbie land. Barbie never was a very deep doll. In this quest for having it all, we might start to see that Barbie has less than ever before.