50 years later

Fifty years ago today, Barbie entered the toy scene. Who woulda thought- she doesn't look a day over 17.

But really, "Barbie" is bigger than just a doll. She has wardrobes of clothes, countless cars, houses, pets, even a few movies and computer & video games. She's got a whole family, if you're keeping track- sisters and cousins and friends and boyfriends. She's brought us more than just clutter, though- she's given little girls a vision.

Barbie is the ideal. She is what little girls- as soon as they're old enough not to swallow the plastic shoes- will play with, then aspire to. No matter that her dimensions are totally unachievable (unless you happen to be a busty 7'2" woman with an eating disorder ...), she is Beauty as our culture defines it.

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, calls Barbie out on this deception:
"The most basic problem with Barbie is the fact that she lies. Constantly. The entire Barbie package presents one huge lie about the nature of true beauty. According to the Christian worldview, beauty and truth and goodness are identical. A lie cannot be beautiful and the truth is never ugly. Barbie's total presentation represents a lie about feminine beauty, suggesting in not-too-subtle ways that external attractiveness (even artificial attractiveness) is the foundation of true beauty."

A professor who I got to know in college has two little girls- at the time, they weren't even school-aged. When they were given Barbie dolls for Christmas by relatives, their parents took the girls to the store and made them return the dolls and pick out another toy. Now, when they play Princess like every girl, they are princesses themselves, rather than aspiring to be "Princess Barbie". When they twirled in heir princess gowns on the dance floor at our wedding, I understood their parents' decision. The Barbie Ideal would stay out of their home as long as possible, and the girls could and would be beautiful. Their spirit could shine "Princess" rather than having to conform to an ideal in the mirror- an unrealistic, shallow, plastic ideal.


David Swindle said...

Now having written that post how could you ever doubt that the "feminist" label is appropriate for you?

Joanna said...

David- Look back at the post about the label- I never denied it was appropriate, I was commenting on how quickly someone I had just met had labeled me, and was wondering what prompted it.

As an amusing side note, the guy I quoted is very very anti-feminism


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