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November 1998 Issue
Christmas Dilemma: "Which Barbie?"
by Lacey Julian
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I look back on my Barbie doll days as wonderful times. I remember playing with my best girlfriends. No matter who showed up, or at whose house we played, we all had something to share. Often there was more than one Barbie doll there, but they were all basically the same. Barbie! No "Fake Jewelry Barbie", no "This Particular Version of 65 Different Types of Bathing Suited Barbie", no "Pastel Colored, or Color Changing Hair Barbie", just Barbie! I had a Barbie and a Midge, my friend, Leeza, had a Barbie and Ken, and our other friends had their Barbies and Kens and Midges.

I never thought I'd ever be old enough to say, "Things were simpler back then"! But, I guess I've finally arrived at the point in my life where I'm forced to feeling acutely aware of past memories. I had to ask my cousin how her 9 year old daughter keeps track of all of the different Barbies when they are sharing one occasion. Does she say, "Barbie, Barbie would like to know if you would like some tea.", or is it more like, " Jewel Tone Barbie, Olympic Skating Barbie would like to know if you would like some tea."? It's kind of ridiculous isn't it? So many Barbies, so few children! I get overwhelmed just walking through the "pink aisles" in my local toy store! I know, I know, there are some of you reading this that think Barbie is some floozy, lighter-than-air-headed, blonde bimbo, with large breasts. Some of you think that Barbie gives our daughters an unrealistic image of what they should look like to be successful in life. To those who feel that Barbie is a sexist toy designed by a bunch of drooling, leather headed, men in an attempt to foster their pathetic desires of women on the children of the world, I say GET A GRIP. I'm living proof that Barbie's image is not where our children get their ideas of success and beauty. I grew up through the "bra burning" days, the "flower power" days, the "hippie yippie dippey" days, the "make love not war" days, the "love the one you're with" days, "yuppie" days, the "disco age" days, and the "I gotta find myself days". I never once felt like I had to look like a Barbie doll, because of playing with one when I was younger. Today's girls have it much more difficult to live up to society's expectations of what they should look like than what Barbie portrays. Pay attention to how MTV, television commercials, rap songs, magazine ads, CD ROM covers, and just about any print medium portrays women and you'll understand exactly what I'm getting at. Its our fellow women, paid no doubt by men, no doubt well, that sell out to our little women. Yeah OK, I know Barbie has a perfect figure, but hey, so did Princess Diana and no one is upset with her being beautiful.

Let's look at Barbie's good points. Barbie can do anything! She has been a doctor, a veterinarian, a dentist, a police officer, a firefighter, an executive, an Olympic gold medalist, and a teacher. Barbie excels in sports such as, surfing, roller blading, swimming, ice skating, bike riding, and tennis. She is an accomplished equestrian and gymnast. She has held the lead in both the Nutcracker and Swan Lake ballets. She is a princess of several make believe countries (you make believe which ones). She is a devoted sister, loves animals, and stays true to her one love, Ken. She comes in many different ethnic types and she makes no bones about crossing cultural and racial barriers for her friends. Not too shabby for a blonde bimbo!

I also, like the idea that she comes in every price range, so that all little girls can participate in role playing regardless of their social standing. I've seen her sell for under $5.00 and over $1,500.00. She takes up much less room that the Cabbage Patch dolls that were once the rage, and even if the vacuum cleaner sucks up one of her shoes, they don't cost an arm and a leg to replace. Her clothes come in all prices too. From $1.00 for the most basic of styles to $1,000.00 designer originals. There are even Barbie doll clothes patterns for those productive, talented types who can sew.

Her paraphernalia is endless! I know of three different types of swimming pools alone! Several designs of homes have be manufactured, as well as, motor homes. Virtually whatever activity you want her to do comes in a kit. Picnics and bar-b-ques, horseback riding, school rooms, cooking, art, music, and lounging around. There are several bath and shower kits available. She sleeps, eats, shops, showers, and well, there are toilets available also.

Here's the dilemma: Which one do I choose for a Christmas gift for the little girls in my life. There are just too many to choose from! OK, so I look for Barbies that portray the interests of each girl. Let's use my niece as an example. Brenda take dance classes, so this should be an easy one. Barbie, however, comes in several different tutus including a new set this year with her little sister Kelly. But , which one would she like. It would be easier if Mattel only made one ballet Barbie. And, so it goes with all the little girls in my life. Come on, Mattel, give us ladies a break! I can go broke in no time in the pink aisles of the toy store without the added burden of choosing either the pink ballet dress or the white one!

I just wish I could obtain a nice doll roll model for my son. Unfortunately, Ken, although athletic, handsome, muscular, and smart, doesn't appeal to most young boys. Too bad. That means I'm left with several types of violence based alternatives: G.I. Joe, superheros, or half-man half-whatevers. Well, at least Peter Parker and Clark Kent were journalists. Hey, wasn't Batgirl a librarian, too?



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