If there is one thing that is certain is this world, it is the fact that myself and Ryan will argue about anything. So when he starting bad-mouthing Barbie during a meeting as a promotional tool for encouraging women to be dumb and pretty, I nearly reached through my laptop to punch him. He must have sensed my rage so he set me a challenge. I had to find five reasons why Barbie is awesome and “pink” wasn’t to be one of them. Prepare to have your mind blown as I delve into the reasons why I think Barbie is a positive role model for young girls.
1) She’s super smart
Mattel has messed up a few times over the years with Barbie. One of the older Barbies came with a book called “How to lose weight” and on the back it simply said “Don’t Eat!” Yeah, that was dumb. But despite the odd slip-up, Barbie has young girls reaching for the stars with their education. Not only has Barbie been a teacher, she has worked in many different medical fields, and worked for NASA. If you look at the list of different careers that Barbie has had, she clearly has several doctorates and degrees. I’m sure those all came in handy when she became President of the United States in 2000. But what did you expect from a doctor with a military background who has flown to space and worked as a news anchor?
2) She loves animals
Animal cruelty is something that we see too much of these days. Not only is Barbie is a qualified vet but has looked after loads of different pets. One of the more recent and slightly controversial dolls saw Barbie picking up dog poo from a golden retriever. It might seem like a pretty disgusting thing for a child’s toy but this doll is promoting responsible pet ownership by cleaning up after your dog. There was the same concept with a pet cat and a litter tray. I’m no expert but I think that showing young people to look after pets properly (poop and all) is really positive thing. If you look at the range of Barbie pet toys, there is nothing there that would promote any type of animal cruelty. In fact, they all show Barbie taking really good care of her pets.
3) She travels
After Toy Story 2, Barbie became a tour guide for a while. But she won’t just show you the sites, she can take you there too! Not only does she have a plane and a pilot’s license, she has homes all over the world. From beach houses to ski lodges, Barbie has the sort of jet-set lifestyle that most of us can only dream of. And she doesn’t just travel to sit on her bottom, she always takes part in different activities. She can horse ride, scuba dive, ski, ice-skate. There isn’t many activities take she won’t do. Plus she can speak a few different languages and is an avid photographer.
4) She is financially secure
Say what you will about this one, but you can’t argue the fact that Barbie has a few quid in the bank. Not only has she several homes, including her dream house, but she has a car, travels, has been through university several times. And from her range of hobbies and love of horses, she would need something in the bank. Little girls might not realise it when they wish they were like Barbie, they are wishing for everything in her life. Maybe it seems superficial having a home, a car, a vast wardrobe, and the chance to travel but that’s the lifestyle that the most popular people in the world have.
5) She promotes strong relationships
Barbie has been in one of the longest relationships I have ever heard of, apart from my grandparents. Her relationship with Ken has changed a few times over the years, there have been a few weddings between them but I will assume that they are renewing their vows than remarrying after divorce. But one thing is certain, she doesn’t have a lot of male friends to mess around with. In a world where casual sex and relationships are seen as normal, I really like the fact that Barbie and Ken have been a stable relationship for young women to look up to.
Bonus: healthy lifestyle
Out of all of the careers that Barbie has had, fitness has not featured much. She was an aerobics instructor twice, a yoga teacher, taught swimming and was a gymnastics and football coach. Her gymnastics career was very good from the looks of things because she became an Olympic gymnast at one point, as well as being a ballerina since the 1960’s. Apart from the odd dumb slip-up that we mentioned earlier, she hasn’t gone out of her way to promote an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, it seems to be the opposite. In a world of fat-shaming and obesity, having a doll that has a range of hobbies that require physical activity, is that such a bad thing? Is it wrong for a little girl to look at Barbie and say “I want to be a ballerina”? No, it’s not. Because in a world where children are normally happy to sit in front of the tv and computer for hours, it’s good to have a role model that encourages children to get moving. That little ballerina might never be a Prima Ballerina but she will develop strength and discipline from dance that you don’t get from playing computer games.
As a parent, these are the sorts of things that I hope for my daughter. I hope that she turns into her own version of Barbie. Loving life, finding adventure, and doing it all in fabulous clothes. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who will argue that Barbie is still a figure that promotes anti-feminist ideas and unhealthy body image, but that is your view on the doll. I will choose a more positive way to look at her while I learn how to scuba dive and study for my degree in neuroscience.