Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The B-Word

The Bird recently asked for a Barbie for her upcoming 5th birthday.

First, let me thank all of my friends and the day care for exposing her to the B-Word.  No... not THAT B-Word.  I would prefer that B-Word to the B-A-R-B-I-E-Word.

Back before I had kids,  I swore that Barbie would never enter my home.  I believe that I have referred to it on more than on occasion as "The Eating Disorder Doll"... and vowed never to let it cross the threshold of my house.

But, when your almost-5-year-old looks up at you with wide, innocent eyes and desperately whispers:  "I want a Barbie doll... because I've never had a Barbie doll... and all my friends have Barbie dolls... so can I please have a Barbie?  Please, please, please?"  Well, now you feel like a Grinch.

It's hard balancing feminism with raising a little girl who, if she could, would like to grow up to be a Butterfly Princess that could fly and go to dance class and wear a crown of jewels and have pretty rings and necklaces and pink hair with sparkles AND WEAR HIGH HEELS!!!  (happy screech!!!)

So.  God... she has a sense of humor, no?  

Yep.  I'm a Grinch.  The Grinch Who Stole Barbie.  And yes... I may have gone too far with the No Barbies Rule.  And yes... I may not completely understand The Bird and her need to make everything princess-y.  And honestly?  I need to be better at that.  I need to let her be the little girl she wants to be and not impose my view of the world on her... the one in which I expect her to fly her feminist flag high and question authority and patriarchy.  Because she's just a little kid and she should just be allowed to be in that moment.

So...I get that.  I get that I'm 37-years-old and NEED TO DEAL WITH MY SH*T and not force it on my kindergartner.  It's just hard... way harder than I expected it to be.

Luckily, Mattel has found a way to soothe my feminist ire and STILL take money from my grubby hands via their new line: Career Barbie!!  Props to my girlfriend who pointed this out to me when I lamented how I could see the Barbie train coming and was powerless to stop it.

A quick Amazon search of Career Barbie turned up a few gems. You guys.  YOU. GUYS.  I don't know whether to be delighted at the possibilities... or dead inside.  Because while the powers that be have been shamed into trying... they're definitely trying... to step into the modern day, my ears are still bleeding. 

So, seeing that I have nothing better to do, let's discuss the concepts in the Career Barbie line:

1)  Actress Barbie
Do I really need to say anything about this?  Okay, fine.  See, the thing is there are some amazing actresses.  The ones that make you want to go see a film because you know they'll blow your mind.  And the funny thing is, NONE OF THEM LOOK LIKE THIS.   The ones who aren't so amazing... yes, they often look like this.  They're the ones who have to have guardianships placed on them and say they're not a feminist... because they don't hate men.... but women should definitely have social, economic and political equality.  See?  Ears bleeding.

2) Astronaut Barbie
This one... I'm okay with.  Not sure why they have to vomit pink at every turn, but you do you, Mattel.  Good job.

3) Soccer Barbie
So, listen.  I'm an athlete and am a huge advocate of women's athletics and what it means for the development of girls and women.  However, this is just not cutting it.  I mean, despite the fact that this outfit exactly matches The Bird's soccer uniform's color-scheme (not even joking), there are some issues here.

#1 - How many girls do YOU know that wear tight shirts and shorts to play soccer?  None.  That's volleyball.  Get it right. 
#2 -  And how many of them have perfectly coiffed hair?  NONE.  Which leads us to:
#3 - Her teeny-tiny feet that are so small there's no way she can kick a soccer ball effectively, or even be able to stand properly.
#4 -  Of course, since her knees don't bend, this is all a mute point.

Seriously... if we're going to promote sports via a Barbie doll, let's make it realistic.  How about a Million Dollar Baby Barbie Doll?  Looks like crap most of the time, doesn't comb her hair eats leftover food at the diner when no one is looking and hasn't showered in days... but can throw a mean left hook and knock you flat on your ass.  YOU GUYS!!  I would buy that doll in a heartbeat... hell, The Bean could be the model for that doll.

4) Baker Barbie

When I first looked at this one, I got a craving for some Pepto.  But other than that, I wasn't too bothered.  Until I looked at her shoes.  Really?  No.  No career woman I know would wear those kinds of shoes to work.  Well... one career woman, but Mattel hasn't officially created a Stripper  Barbie (although seriously... if they make one, it better come with a pole and I'm totally going to buy it).

But, I digress.  Besides the lack of comfort and impracticality of wearing these things in a kitchen, I'd be willing to bet that Baker Barbie will eventually end up with plantar fasciitis and a neuroma.  Those shoes are NOT her best friend. Why not a Cat Cora/Iron Chef Barbie??  I guarantee she's wearing running shoes.

5) Doctor Barbie
I actually was okay with this one... but then my friend who is an actual doctor pointed out that doctors?  THEY DON'T WEAR SHORT SKIRTS LIKE THAT TO WORK.   I know... I KNOW!  How in the world will we make Doctor Barbie about her looks versus her career if we don't emphasize her legs and the place where her vagina would be if she had one?

6) Nurse Barbie
This is one of the few that I can get behind, as I've actually seen a lot of nurses dressed similarly.  She does look incredibly unsoiled for a nurse, though.  Maybe they should add some vomit to her shoes.  Which by the way, should be Crocs, not heels.

7) Pediatrician Barbie
Again with the shoes.  And also... the tiny wrists that couldn't hold a baby if her life depended on it.  Nevermind giving a screaming baby a shot.  NEXT!!

8) Skier Barbie
I hope she freezes to death with those tight pants and no gloves, hat or goggles.  But... other than that, she's fine.  Except her hair should be in a pony tail and if she's wearing those tight pants, at some point her knees are gonna have to bend, otherwise her dreams of competitive skiing are over.

9) Teacher Barbie

Look how put together Teacher Barbie is?  She obviously teaches young children who are totally paying attention and listening to her at all times. Luckily, it appears that she only has the one student, which is super realistic.  This is her thinking to herself: "I need to figure out how to change out of these God-forsaken tight pants so I can actually move around my classroom and help my one student."  Someone needs to explain to this Barbie about budget cuts and America's educational priorities so that she knows that she's going to be teaching 40 kids in her classroom tomorrow... because they've cut the music and arts programs.

10)  Detective Barbie
THIS IS NOT DETECTIVE OLIVIA BENSON AND I REFUSE TO ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS THAN DETECTIVE OLIVIA BENSON.  By the way, Detective Benson wouldn't be caught dead in tight pants, boots, a walkie-talkie and a side ponytail.

11) Entrepreneur Barbie
So, now that I've offended everyone about Career Barbie - and possibly their professions - let's talk about Entrepreneur Barbie.  Which I think should be re-named to Working Mom Barbie... with a few changes.

1) Long skirt.  Working moms use this trick to cover up the fact that they haven't shaved since 2009.
2) Outfit should be wrinkled... not offensively so, but enough so that you can tell she had to pull them out of the dryer and hope a little Downy Wrinkle Release would do it's job in the five minutes she had before she had to walk out the door.  
3) Overflowing purse that contains all the staples of a Working Mom Barbies life, like:
  • 3 tubes of lip balm
  • 4 tubes of lip gloss
  • a pair of sunglasses for each kid... which they refuse to wear
  • one kid sock
  • 43 cents in change
  • Dora The Explorer goggles... broken
  • pebbles that her children stuck in her purse for safe keeping.
  • 3 Costco receipts
  • 10 dental floss sticks
  • sunblock stick
  • a swim diaper, despite the fact her kids are way past diapers
  • half-eaten granola bar that she never had time to finish
  • business cards
  • necklaces
  • Pez dispenser with no candy
  • dried up pens
  • hair clips
  • pigeon feather that her children stuck in her purse for safe keeping
  • hair pick
  • an Oregon Ducks whistle... because that makes sense
  • sticker earrings... that her children stuck in her purse for safe keeping
  • assorted items of useless garbage... that her children stuck in her purse for safe keeping
  • this wine cork that she keeps because of OH SO MANY REASONS

  • All of which are covered in melted chocolate from those espresso beans she accidentally spilled in her purse and never got around to finding before they melted in the sun when she left her purse in the car.  Along with her keys.
4)  A suspicious stain on her shirt that she thought about changing before work but decided, HEY!  THIS IS ME AND WE MADE IT THROUGH BREAKFAST WITH JUST A FEW MISHAPS (including this maple syrup/milk/bacon grease stain on my shirt).  Everyone else can just deal!!!

5) Let's be real with the makeup.  Like Working Mom Barbie has time for that? She doesn't.  She had to settle a fight between the kids about where they should wipe the booger they just pulled out of their respective noses, which took up all of the "putting on her face" time she had allotted for herself.

6) Working Mom Barbie should have her sunglasses on her head haphazardly, a coffee in one hand, her purse slung over her arm and one child holding on to the coffee hand's pinkie finger, while holding the other child's hand.  Working Mom Barbie decides who gets to hold her pinkie based on who she thinks is less likely to dart out into traffic that day. 

Look, if Mattel really wanted to inspire girls, they would try to make these career dolls more realistic.  Not just pick a career and then pink it up.  That being said, I recently purchased Entrepreneur Barbie and a Mermaid Barbie because the 5YO... she's allowed to be a kid.  She has her entire life to question what she's being marketed and why.

And I hope she will.  I really hope she will.