An Ode to Some Childhood Buddies – Barbie Doll and Friends

When I went to college, one of the first classes I took was Women and Gender Studies.  How could I not resist learning about the history of women since I am a woman?  My professor was named Dr. Jean Peterson and  she was a cool hippie chick from back in the day, complete with graying jet-black hair to her waist and she was so laid back she was practically horizontal.   However, a couple of weeks in her class, I was dismayed to find out she was not a fan of Barbie Dolls because she, as a feminist felt they contributed to low self-esteem issues in young girls in American society.

My collection of Barbie and Friends

I was totally amazed by her attitude because I loved and still love Barbie and not once when I was a child thought I would look like Barbie when I grew up. Because cause she was a doll and how could I possibly look like a doll?  She wasn’t real. Even at that young age, I had more sense than that. I have been a prolific reader since I was a child and Barbie and friends were props for my overactive imagination.  When I was into Greek mythology, my dolls were transformed into Athena, Artemis, and Aphrodite and several of my mother’s silky nightgowns were turned into Greek robes for them.   When I read “Gone With the Wind” (at the age of ten), I learned to make hoop skirts for my dolls and reenacted the burning of Atlanta without actually setting the house on fire. 

But Dr. Peterson had her reasons. During the course of the class, I learned why Dr. Peterson had issues with Barbie (sexism and the branding of the skinny white chick with impossibly unattainable body) and although I respected her opinion a great deal and she had a PhD and several other degrees, to me, blaming a doll for self-esteem issues in young girls and women was a little too much.  I blame parents and society for making young girls and women feel bad because they do not live up to the womanly image that American society has memorialized as the epitome of beauty.  Every woman is not slim or tall with blue eyes and long flowing blond hair and guess what? Who gives a fuck?  It is hard enough being a woman in a sexist society without driving yourself crazy trying to be something that you are not.  A woman has to be happy and secure in her own skin to be truly complete.  But I will always love Barbie, Christie, Skipper, Starr, Kelly, Candi, Darci, Sydney and all my girls from childhood.  They kept a little girl’s imagination flowing and I will forever thankful to my favorite Plastics.

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