Appreciating all that makes America special

Kid Stuff: Barbie

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She looks pretty good for 50, don’t you think? It’s rather amazing to see the impact a simple doll has had on American girls. She doesn’t talk. She doesn’t wet. She doesn’t come with some goofy birth certificate. She’s a doll, for heaven’s sake.

And yet…she’s become an icon, both revered and reviled. Some say that Barbi’s figure leads girls to unrealistic body image issues, and contributes to anorexia and bulimia. Yeah, well. Mattel has sold over a billion of the things. There’s not that many people with eating disorders.

Did you know her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts? Or that she’s had more than 80 careers? That she’s had 43 pets? That she didn’t have a belly button for 41 years? Personally, I don’t know whether she’s stringing Ken along or vice versa, but I think their relationship has been platonic long enough.

So to Barbie, I say congratulations on your longevity. And happy birthday. It’s hard to imagine an American girl’s room without you.

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  1. Ooh, I have mixed feelings about Barbie. In general, I think she’s a terrible influence on small girls who are learning for the rest of their lives what the world expects of women (and while there are not millions of women with eating disorders, our society is profoundly eating disordered, and a good number of women have unhealthy views of their bodies). And Barbie is, well, not truly American. She was inspired by a German doll sold as a “toy” not intended for little girls.

    • I appreciate your comments. I just want to say that Barbie is truly an American phenomenon, regardless of whether or not she was inspired by a foreign toy. There will be lots of things on this blog that may have had their roots somewhere else, but became uniquely American in the way we adopted them. I really enjoy reading your blog, by the way, and thanks for your comment.