Did you know that if Barbie was a real woman with those proportions, she’d have to carry her kidneys in her purse?” – Lanie Diane Rich, Author, Time Off for Good Behavior
Leave it to a 55-year old whose pretty little head is literally filled with air to stir up more controversy than the three, nubile, scantily-clad models gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary Swimsuit Edition. People were outraged that Barbie, a children’s toy, would be seen on plastic wrapping that would cover this anniversary edition of a magazine which (despite its name) really has nothing to do with the swimsuits. It’s essentially admitting that Barbie has lots in common with the frolicking models in Sports Illustrated. These ladies do look fit, but their accomplishments in the sporting arena are, shall we say, limited. Full disclosure: I have a love/hate relationship with Barbie. On the one hand, I admire how far she’s come over the last few decades. She’s showcased more than 150 different careers, ranging from dog walker, to astronaut, to TV anchor, to RCMP officer. And I envy her unrealistically perky attributes and impossibly thin bod. On the other hand, I find it hard to take her very seriously. The latest incarnation of Barbie is entrepreneur. Sure, she’s wearing a hot pink shift dress which might bother some people, and it’s not clear what kind of business she’s running exactly (clues: she’s sporting a mini smartphone and tablet), but I think it’s a step in the right direction. Entrepreneur Barbie even comes in four different ethnicities: blonde, black, Asian, redhead… which all look like the same doll with slightly different hair and skin tones. How wonderfully politically correct!
I’m finding it hard to avoid Barbie these days… her likeness is splashed everywhere, courtesy of Mattel’s marketing team, I’m sure. It’s probably not a coincidence that Barbie sales have been slumping for some time. They were down 13% over the holiday season. So, like all brands that are looking a little tired, she’s got to be reinvented. Her latest incarnation (as a swimsuit model AND business woman) isn’t so terrible. The takeaway for little girls (and boys) is that Barbie isn’t one-dimensional and she can wear all kinds of different hats (literally and figuratively).
There is the matter of her, shall we say, unrealistic proportions. If she were made to really resemble the “average woman” in America… clothes just wouldn’t fit her the same. This is an artist’s rendition of a Barbie that actually keeps things real. Let’s face it, it might be a more attainable version of Barbie, but let’s remember that she’s a doll. Teddy bears don’t look like real bears… they’re the cuter, cuddlier version. A Furby looks nothing like a real hamster or owl or whatever it’s supposed to be. Barbie is the sleeker version of the human form. Outlasting the competition and defying her critics, one pink outfit and pair of stiletto heels at a time.