People get their underwear in a bunch sometimes, don’t they? Remember the Barbie that talked and said things like “Math is hard?” People got really riled up with that one. I was an adult at the time and I remember being very angry that the Mattel Corporation would treat our young women with such disrespect. Even to this day, I make fun of the Mattel Corporation by saying the words, “Math is hard” with a bubble-headed girl’s voice.
Guess what? I was wrong. It’s hard to admit it, but I can do it when I need to. I just realized today after reading Hugh Elliot’s weblog entry that I was so wrong. I feel like I need to make a formal apology to Mattel, but there really isn’t a form on their website for that.
A decade after Hugh put his G.I. Joes in the storage box, I was still playing with my Barbies. Back in the seventies, Barbie didn’t work. Barbie was a teen fashion model. She had a boyfriend, Ken and a little sister, Skipper. Kelly hadn’t been born yet and her mom is still M.I.A. (yet still able to give birth to a new baby sister, figure that one out). Barbie was a Super Star and a beach bunny. Malibu Barbie was totally cool because she had a tan lines underneath her bathing suit. They were painted on, and if you took her out swimming too often, they would chip right off. I swear, what kinds of kids test these toys? Malibu Barbie HAS to go swimming!
Anyway, we were talking about why I was wrong. Mattel told me back in 1977 that my only goal as a woman should be to wear pretty clothes, walk gracefully and get a tan. As a child, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what Mattel told me. Barbie wasn’t a teen fashion model. Barbie was a mom. Barbie was a career woman. Barbie worked in insurance just like my mom did and she made a ton of money. Enough to drive a purple Corvette (I saved all my chore money for weeks just to buy it. It cost eight dollars back then, but that’s another story). Barbie could do anything and she didn’t need Ken to do it either. Ken was great fun to have around, but if he skipped town (or got a bad haircut, damn you, Stacey) he was out of there. No matter what propaganda Mattel fed me, Barbie did exactly what I wanted her to do.
When my sister Stacey was in her Barbie phase, Mattel had finally gotten the picture. Her commercials sang, “We girls can do anything!” I loved that slogan. It meant exactly what “playing with Barbies” was for me. They went from teen fashion model, to “We girls can do anything” to teeter at “Math is hard.” And guess what? All of that didn’t matter because Barbie does what I want her to do, not what the commercials tell me. Apparently, it was the same for Hugh.