When I was little, I loved Barbie. Actually, I loved, and played, with her until I was about 12 (though I started denying it around age 10). And now my daughter loves Barbie just as much. At first this bothered me because Barbie is marketed like she’s the next Paris Hilton; but when I think back to the Barbie of my childhood, I have nothing but fond and explorative memories. Barbie was much more than a pink and rhinestone-clad diva, which leads me to the very important question that Wendy McClure asked in last year’s Oct/Nov issue of Bust magazine:
"What kind of career has Barbie really had? Answer: an awesome one. I don’t mean the phony vocations Mattel has given her. Everyone knows she was never a space-camp instructor or a veterinarian any more than Heidi Montag-Pratt is an event planner. No, I’m talking about the amazingly multifaceted life that Barbie has led in our imaginations, the life she still leads every day in the girlhood bedrooms, backyards, and basements everywhere."
Here are just a few of the occupations Barbie’s had:
"Stuntwoman: Need someone to make a bungee jump from the second-floor banister or a death-defying plunge into a bathtub? Barbie is up for it! Girlfriend loves danger, and in her swank automobiles (sold separately), Barbie can pull off anything the Dukes of Hazzard have ever done."
"Sex educator: Never mind that she doesn’t provide the most detailed instruction. Barbie was there for us the first time we heard there was such a thing as Doing It, and she was more than happy to demonstrate (or at least give us a general idea, which really was all we needed). Whether she was getting it on with Ken, other Barbies, or a couple of kinky Star Wars characters, Barbie showed us that it was all OK."
"Avant-garde artist: She’s famous for cutting off her hair, sporting Sharpie marker tattoos, and wearing bizarre outfits made out of Kleenex and rubber bands, all the while asking the provocative question, What is beauty? With her freakish feet and tiny waist, her controversial figure makes her, well, a controversial figure, but she always makes us think."
"Burlesque performer: If you’ve ever seen Barbie’s girly show, you know she gets naked for the sake of self-expression and not for crumpled dollar bills. You never know what she’ll do next---maybe a go-go dance, or perhaps she’ll cover herself in Post-It notes and peel them off one at a time to make a cheeky statement about our disposable culture. Whatever, she rules!"
"Forget the doll in the toy commercials and all that pink-drenched corporate crap---the Barbie we know lives a much edgier life, full of danger and weirdness. Ordinary celebrities might think they’re hot shit for having a singing career, movie roles, and a line of leggings, but their lives can’t compare to the mind-blowing crazy existence that Barbie’s led. …it’s never too late to throw Barbie the kind of party she really deserves. Wanna come over next Tuesday? Bring your Barbie! We’ll rock out!"