“I’m a blond bimbo girl, in a fantasy world
Dress me up, make it tight, I’m your dolly”
This is why I hate Barbie. Those are lyrics from pop group Aqua’s “I’m a Barbie Girl,” the satirical 1997 hit that said, in a nutshell, WTF, Mattel?
And while those lyrics, out of context, are appalling, what’s worse is that Mattel does a fine job all on its own making their brand misogyny-friendly!
“But drop the needle, Nicole, are you saying that with three girls in your house you don’t own a single Barbie product?” Touché, Internet denizen. Not only do we own Barbie dolls and books, we own a cheap bike with the blonde figure head emblazoned on the frame. As for my feelings about our family’s Barbie consumption, I move in waves of hatred that go from ignoring it seethingly, to passive disdain wherein I hide the stuff in a closet, to self-loathing during which I pretend it’s not that bad.
“I’m a Barbie Girl.” Yes, sometimes. Because periodically Barbie will represent something I can stomach. Sometimes she’s just a fashion doll. Which, is really fun. Sure, her proportions are ridiculous, but I tell that to my kids and we call her what she is, a plastic toy to dress-up. It’s when Mattel tries to play at feminism that I metaphorically throw up a little in my mouth. They fail over and over, as though an actual Barbie doll is making their marketing decisions.
Take the Teen Talk Barbie that once intoned, “Math class is tough!” Sure, that can be true, but way to add to the general precept that it’s okay for girls to give up on math LOLOLOLOL I heart pink! That same doll also said “Party dresses are fun!” and “Do you have a crush on anyone?” But don’t worry, Talking Low Expectations Barbie also says, “I’ll always be here for you.” Thank goodness, because every girl needs a friend to give up on algebra with!
Or what about the fact that my girls received as a gift (and love, thank you to my friend, truly, no sarcasm) a Barbie microphone which has appropriated the very same satirical Aqua song I mentioned earlier with rewritten lyrics. So, instead of “undress me everywhere” it says other empty grrrl power things like “dream the dream” and “the world is yours” also, “pink and shit,” but that last is largely just implied. But wait! There’s also a 2009 music video, which somehow, made everything worse. Not that I don’t feel inspired by dancing dolls with thigh gaps. I mean, I’ve enjoyed a few Miley Cyrus jams.
Blogger Pamela Ribon skewers Barbie in her recent blog post. The book? “Barbie: I can be . . . a Computer Engineer” in which, SPOLIER ALERT, Barbie cannot actually be a computer engineer, but the future of hot sister on sister pillow fights is alive and well, THANK GOODNESS.
I’ve read lots of Barbie lit in my day, and each page turns a little part of my feminist soul to ashes. I keep hoping for better, every time my girls bring me a new Barbie tome from the library. Maybe this time . . . Either Barbie is inordinately interested in marrying someone, or she’s doing big things in the least practical clothing possible. Spelunking that cave? There’s a high-heeled pump for that! Because if the visual message “you’re only as good as your skirt is short” isn’t getting through to our girls, they can always rely on Faux Computer Engineer Barbie to help them realize that nothing is possible without two guys to bail you out, LOLOLOLOL pillow fight!