2009: the 50th anniversary of the beloved cultural icon Barbie- and quite the life this foxy baby-boomer has led. According to an article by Misty Harris, in yesterday’s Ottawa Citizen, Barbie has had “110 jobs, been dressed by 70 couturiers, served in the army, fronted a rock band, and successfully navigated a 43-year romance with a sexually ambiguous mate.” Impressive.
According to Chapter 5 of Dr. Michael Strangelove’s text, The Empire of Mind, “over one billion Barbie dolls have been sold. The average American girl aged between seven and 11 owns a staggering ten Barbie dolls…The Barbie brand is worth some 2 billion…making it the most valuable toy brand in the world.” Wow.
Strangelove’s text states that Barbie is “the representation of the American dream- huge breasts, fast cars, unlimited clothes, undying youth and desired by hundreds of millions of youth and adults.”
This 50-year-old vixen seems to be unstoppable. Or is she?
Harris’ article claims that Barbie has some hard work ahead of her in the near future. It seems Barbie isn’t as cool in her old age. According to banking firm Needham and Co., “domestic sales of Barbie related products have fallen by an average of 12 percent annually over the last half decade.” Barbie’s popularity has simply weakened recently. And why might this be?
Perhaps, former Barbie doll owners have grown up and discovered her seedy past: the perfect-pink- princess, Barbie was inspired by a German sex-toy for men, a doll named Bild Lili, who appeared as a prostitute in a comic strip. Maybe adults do not want their children exposed to a doll that was created with the male-gaze in mind.
According to an online article, Dumb blonde – or diehard feminist? Academic Agnes Nairn stated “many of the [aged seven to 11] girls see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity – and think nothing of pulling off her limbs and putting her in the microwave…No other toy provoked such a negative response.” Many believe Barbie to be an illegitimate representation of the North American female.
What do I think? Barbie is not going anywhere! She will continue to conquer for years to come- as generations age, Barbie will remain youthful, beautiful and trendy… ready to hang out with the 11 years olds: perhaps being tortured, or perhaps having her blonde-locks combed, as she is being swaddled and adored- but she won’t die. There’s a place for this big-eyed plastic blonde in North America, for decades to come.