What Barbie taught me

My not-so-secret dream job has always been to be the person who poses Barbies for commercials and photo shoots. I’ve had a lifetime of practice, and you’d be surprised how much emotion you can convey in her tiny face when you tilt her head exactly the right way.

But enough about me, let’s talk about Barbie. She’s been in the news over the past couple of weeks after debuting her new body types and skin colours. There’s now a curvy Barbie, a tall Barbie, a petite Barbie — as well as the original — with seven skin tones, 22 eye colours and 24 hairstyles. With the hashtag #thedollevolves and headlines like “Now can we stop talking about my body?” the Internet exploded with commentary about her new look. The general consensus is “About time!” but also “Maaaaybe we still don’t want to buy them, actually. But thanks.”

The problem with most of the backlash is that … they’re getting it all wrong.

If you look at a Barbie from 1994, then yes: she’s got a huge chest that slopes dramatically into an impossibly small waist. She’s on her tippy-toes and she’s almost definitely a blue-eyed caucasian with long, silky blonde hair. (My personal favourite was Ice Capades Barbie who was all of those things, except she was an anchorwoman named Rebecca.)

That’s the Barbie everyone remembers, but it’s not the Barbie that’s been steadily evolving for 20 years now …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, “The Mom Scene.”

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