Sunday, December 7, 2014

By Bye Barbie?

"Normal Barbie" on the right

At The Lovely Boutique Where I Work, petite sizes are called "petite", and the others are called "standard" instead of "normal" or "regular". You could still interpret "petite" to mean "sub-standard" or "below normal" if you wanted to take offense. No one has.

Make way for "Normal Barbie". Her real moniker is Lammily after her creator,  Nickolay Lamm, a Pittsburgh-based "artist and researcher" (also a man). She is based on the average proportions of a 19-year-old.

When shown to a group of seven-year-old girls, some of the girls said the difference between Lammily and Barbie was Lammily was "wider", though some did say she was "fatter". She does wear less makeup, still has incredible Barbie hair and that weird pelvis.

Lammily is quite pretty. I would never have complained if I looked that good at 19. There is plenty of room to have many different styles of dolls. What bothers me is that Barbie is being trashed in the process.

Has anyone seen high fashion models in the flesh? I certainly have. Many are young and haven't sprouted the womanly attributes that show up later. They really do look like colts or giraffes or gazelles. Perhaps in another age we would have felt sorry for them. They are real women, just not like the rest of us. And right or wrong we've all gotten used to seeing clothes modeled on very thin forms.

The gazelle Giselle with her
sister, Patricia (left)

Barbie's not real and to think that's not obvious is a little unfair— to her creators at Mattel and to little girls who have loved Barbie for generations. They know she's not real as much as Rapunzel's hair wasn't twenty stories long and Cinderella couldn't wear glass shoes. Barbie is fantasy fun. Poor Barbie has been blamed for all kinds of self-esteem issues, including anorexia.

Barbie has had over 130 careers in her 55 years, from a doctor to a rapper. As befitting the times, perhaps, her latest incarnation is "entrepreneur". She's had a boyfriend and a wedding dress but never been married.

Too much bling for an entrepreneur?

Think of dolls throughout history. They were totems, not meant to be mini-mes. There were rag dolls, china head dolls, impossibly delicate bisque dolls, cartoon characters, even "church dolls" fashioned out of hankies so they wouldn't make any noise during the Sunday service.

Hanky doll
"Poor Pitiful Pearl" doll arrived
 dressed in rags

I would have loved to have played with Barbie (born too soon). I don't think it would have warped my expectations of adulthood. Instead I drafted the most sophisticated of my "little girl" dolls (she with the upswept hairdo) to be a grown-up. She was alternately a WAVE, a stewardess, a nurse and an archeologist. I became none of these and have no regrets.

As for Barbie's fate in this PC-world—in the immortal words of the late Joan Rivers, "Oh, grow up". And little girls will do that, just fine.

1 comment:

  1. Hello and what a great article! Finally someone realizes there is Nothing wrong with playing with Barbie! My daughter grew up with many Barbies and, as you say, realizes she is just a doll! My daughter has not been influenced one way or the other by Barbie's 'unreal' size.