When I went to college, one of the first classes I took was Women’s Studies. How could I 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; she was so laid back she was practically horizontal.
However, after 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 because they wanted to look like Barbie when they got older.
I was totally amazed by her attitude because I loved and still love Barbie Dolls and not once, when I was a child, did I believe that I would look like a Barbie doll when I grew up — because she was a doll. How could I possibly look like a doll? Even at that young age, I had more sense than that. I’ve 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 gowns for them (got my ass beat for that).
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. I would have been stomped for that one. I remember when my brother, while stumbling around after boozing it up all night, stepped on my original Black Barbie doll (introduced in 1980) and made an indentation on her rib cage. I pretended that Barbie was a hooker who got her ass kicked by her pimp. Such a vivid imagination.
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, as she had a PhD and several other degrees, in my opinion 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 the image that American society has put on a pedestal as the standard of beauty and loveliness.
Every woman is not slim, tall, blond with a little waist and long flowing blond hair complete with blue eyes but guess what? Who gives a fuck? It’s hard enough being a woman in a society that is sexist without driving yourself crazy trying to be something that you’re not. A woman has to be happy and comfortable in her own skin to be truly complete and one day, they will figure that out. But I will always love Barbie, Christie, Skipper, Starr, Kelly, Candi, Darci, Sydney and all my girls from childhood. You guys keep a little girl’s imagination flowing and I will forever be thankful to my favorite Plastics.