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Controversy continues to follow Barbie

POSTED: March 19, 2014 4:01 p.m.
 

While it would seem our country has plenty of important (and, frankly, scary) things to concern itself with, there is a new controversy that concerns an iconic figure, Barbie.

Just a month or so ago, Barbie raised eyebrows when she appeared “unapologetically” in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. 

I sort of doubt the men who picked up that issue (surely, only for the interesting and insightful articles) noticed Barbie’s appearance, but the story did make news.

More controversy has since surfaced as Barbie announced a partnership with Girl Scouts of America. The organization has created a new patch for Scouts to earn with the theme of “Be Anything, Do Everything.”

Well, you know what they say, “Haters gonna hate.” Those against this partnership say that Barbie “sexualizes” young girls because, of course, Barbie is a beautiful, buxom, long-legged doll.

The Girl Scouts counter this argument, contending that the patch and Barbie’s involvement encourage girls to see all of the career options available to them.

I grew up in a traditional household with traditional parents and three older brothers. I don’t remember receiving my first Barbie, but I do remember loving her. Somewhere along the line I cut her hair, probably after one of my brothers cut my hair during a barbershop game.

Back to Barbie. Did you know that the first Barbie was created by Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel? She named it after her daughter Barbara.

The official name of the doll was Barbie Millicent Roberts and she was a teenage fashion model. Introduced to the world at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1959, Barbie was an instant success. That’s a great story.

Like most little girls, I loved my Barbie dolls and couldn’t wait until my next birthday or Christmas when I could decide which doll I would ask for.

In elementary school, we used to bring our Barbies to school in their little carrying cases. During recess, we sat in groups admiring them and their accessories.

Compared to some of what I’ve seen in 22-plus years of parenting, that sounds like one of the sweetest, most innocent scenes I can imagine.

I never remember wanting to appear more “sexual” because of Barbie. I think if we’re going to blame an entity for “sexualizing” our girls, it may be wiser to look toward the entertainment industry and our country’s obsession with glorifying celebrities.

Would a celebrity doll come scantily clad and holding a bottle of booze in one hand and a crack pipe in the other? I hope I didn’t just give a doll maker an idea.

Have you walked down the doll aisle at the toy store lately? I can assure you Barbie looks pretty innocent compared to some of the other lines of dolls.

Some are clearly young girls, dressed provocatively and obviously not promoting careers as a pilot, doctor or veterinarian.

I think Barbie and her friends are terrific toys for little girls. I was interested to learn that the Ken doll, which came out two years after Barbie, was named after Handler’s son.

I never owned a Ken doll because my brothers said he was a “sissy.” Instead, my Barbies “went out” with G.I. Joes.

I suppose that was pretty influential since I married an Air Force veteran whose nickname is Paul Bunyan. I give all of the credit to Barbie.

 

Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at contact@adlenrobinson.com.

 

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