In Defense Of Barbie: How One Doll Made A Generation Of Motivated Women
She's worked with over 75 fashion designers, she's a creative inspiration to over 150 famous designers, she's had over 150 different motivating careers and she loves the color pink. But simply to us, she's one of the most famous dolls of all time: Barbie.
Have we been brainwashed by Barbie? The answer is, totally.
Sure, the gal wears heels and drives a pink convertible, but those details of Barbie's life didn't affect how Millennial women turned out to be. As a matter of fact, I grew up wearing Converse and drove a Dodge Neon. In defense of Barbie, she is one of the most independent, successful and confident women we have grown up with.
Barbie isn't only an icon, but she's also a role model for young girls. What other doll has had such an influence on young girls, especially during their developmental years? Controversially, I believe Barbie portrays herself as a primarily positive role model. She's someone whose behaviors, examples and success makes others want to follow.
Before I'm attacked for a sexist article and the haters cry for me to seek feminism, let me explain how Barbie has inspired Millennial women and why we should absolutely respect her.
Millennial women have been described as the people to take the longest of any generation to have children, and they are not troubling over marriage, either. Some say this is because Millennial women are putting their careers above children and matrimony.
We're called the "confident generation," and we are described as better-educated, dedicated and positive. Millennial women have this mindset that we are defined by what we do. That being said, we're really damn motivated.
Who is the one woman who has been influencing our lives with the same mindset? Barbie.
Barbie serves as a strong figure who proves to young girls they can be anything they want to be. I'm not kidding. She has been a surgeon, firefighter, TV news reporter, business executive, NASCAR driver and even an astronaut. Barbie even went to the moon in the 1960s, four years before Neil Armstrong. Similarly, Barbie became a computer engineer, which, historically, was an area that employed many men.
She's not only successful in careers, but she's also incredibly independent. She owns several cars, a motor home and even a plane. Barbie can fly her own plane because she's also a pilot.
She owns two houses and attained them all by herself. Notice how it's called Barbie's Dream House, not Barbie and Ken's Dream House?
Barbie is also patriotic and speaking politically, did I forget to mention she ran for president in the '90s? This was before any female candidate ever really made it onto the presidential ballot.
There is “Fulla,” a doll similar to Barbie, but who is dressed in a modest outfit that is more suitable for practicing Muslims. Fulla was created after Saudi Arabia outlawed Barbie dolls because of her clothes and “shameful postures.”
But why should any of this matter? She's just a doll, right? If her successes are overlooked, shouldn't her skinny figure and blonde hair be missed as well?
This is something Millennial women have in common with Barbie. Our looks are sadly weighed more important than our achievements.
The biggest controversy about Barbie is that she promotes very unrealistic ideas of body image for girls. Barbie's 11.5 inches tall, so realistically she would be 5'9." Sensibly, her chest doesn't fit her skinny frame and height.
Research done in Finland showed that if Barbie was real, she would lack 17 to 22 percent body fat that is needed for women to menstruate. The keyword here is "if." This is all tolerable because she's a plastic doll, so she doesn't need to menstruate.
However, if Barbie gets slammed for the way she looks, shouldn't Stretch Armstrong get criticized for promoting impractical arm length expectation in boys? What about Ken's chiseled six-pack? If parents fail to tell their children that Barbie is only a doll and they'll never look like that, is it still Barbie's fault?
I grew up with every Barbie doll imaginable (even the pregnant one), and I don't owe my insecurities to Barbie at all. I also grew up with Polly Pocket, and I didn't beg for rubber clothes. I grew up with Bratz dolls, and I didn't even think about applying mascara and eyeliner until I was an age when I was done playing with dolls.
Was I just not immune to these influences? Absolutely not. Instead, I — along with other women — have adopted Barbie's strong work ethic and "girl power" morals.
As a little girl, I wasn't worried about my appearance. I was worried about dividing fractions and what game I was going to play at recess.
Barbie has come a long way since 1959, so let's cut the doll some slack. She's always had inspiring slogans, including, "We girls can do anything," "If you can dream it, you can be it" and "Be who you wanna be." As a Millennial woman, I consumed Barbie's notion of dreaming big and going after those visions.
So, I guess I'm a Barbie girl living in a very critical, maybe overly sensitive world. Barbie takes a lot of criticism for her “too perfect” image, but I think we shouldn't be so serious when viewing Barbie. I don't think living like Barbie is such a bad idea for girls to look up to.
As I've stated, she's successful and independent, and contrary to certain opinions, what's so wrong with wanting to present yourself as best as possible? There's nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel good about yourself. There is nothing wrong with wanting to wear makeup and do your hair. When you feel good, you come across confident.
Not everyone wakes up and is “perfect." Neither is Barbie. That's why she comes with a hair brush, makeup and accessories.
Some people don't like makeup, curling their hair or wearing heels, and hey, that is fine, too. Not everybody's definition of beauty is defined the same. It is all about what works for you. Let's not bash each other for how we decide to apply ourselves, including Barbie.
But in all seriousness, are we really going to call a woman doll who became a doctor, firefighter, astronaut and US president a bad role model for young girls just because of her figure?
Barbie has taught Millennial women it's OK to stand on their own, it's OK to take a male-dominated career path, it's OK to be fabulous and it's OK to have poise. Barbie is not just a pretty face.
There are plenty of ways Barbie proves there's more to being a woman than being skinny. She's the ultimate motivator. Just because the girl has a billion different shoe styles in her closet doesn't mean she isn't encouraging young girls every day to pursue their dreams.
Barbie didn't make me want to work out, diet, buy new shoes or dye my hair blonde. Barbie inspired me to hustle for that private plane, dream house and convertible.