Oct 16 2005

Die, Barbie

Barbie shows Ken what it’s really like to pretend to be dominant

Just when grown women have finally stopped carrying Hello Kitty handbags, Mattel launches "Barbie clothes" for adults. That’s right. Now actual full-sized sexbots with tiny high-heel-shaped feet and wasp-waists can buy $176 dollar Barbie jeans and $140 Barbie sweatshirts. With the popularity of the vile dolls creeping justly towards the crapper, the toy company reasons that designer Barbie Luxe brand clothing "will catch on with trendsetting teens and women" to whom the prepubescent look for "aspiration," thereby causing said 8-year-olds to hound their mothers for new Barbies.

Spending 140 bucks on a pink Barbie sweatshirt is pretty sad, but buying a Barbie for your daughter is the Western equivalent of holding her down while grandma slices off her clitoris with a piece of broken glass.

Thanks for the link Leslie.


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  1. Amy's Brain Today

    Yech! Can it BE a coincidence that the spokesdude/VP for global marketing is named DICK-SON??????

  2. Chris Clarke

    buying a Barbie for your daughter is the Western equivalent of holding her down while grandma slices off her clitoris with a piece of broken glass.

    Ms Faster;

    My client, the Mattel Corporation, demands that you immediately cease and desist from quoting that slogan, or revealing any other part of Mattel’s planned 2007 Barbie marketing campaign.

    Yrs sincrly,

  3. Anonymous

    … buying a Barbie for your daughter is the Western equivalent of holding her down while grandma slices off her clitoris with a piece of broken glass.

    ::: exhausts self with loud cheering :::

  4. norbizness

    Actually, the Barbie adult jeans are outfitted with a microchip in either ass pocket, so that when it recognizes a friendly co-worker pat, it responds by saying “Oh, you! (giggle)”

  5. Sara*

    All my Barbies ended up with consistently bald heads. I used to take the arms and legs of both Barbie and Ken and switch them. Ken the drag queen and Barbie the stone butch.

    I think I started early.

  6. CafeSiren

    My niece is turning 3, and I’m picking out birthday presents from a list of potential things that she wants/likes, now that she’s old enough to have preferences. She likes barbies, and has also requested a “princess dress.” Luckily, she also likes books, puzzles, and wooden trains, so I’ve got plenty of non-patriarchal materials to work with.

    And Norbizness — If I had been drinking milk, it would have come out my nose when I read your post.

  7. ae

    “Barbie Luxe.” Bwaaahhhahahahah!

    Dude, any damn time you have to assert the luxeosity of your product, it is quite obviously — what’s a polite term for “white trash”? ‘Hackneyed patriarchal crap’ will do.

    Shoutout to my parents who never considered getting me a Barbie. Ptooie. I did have a Stretch Armstrong though, because practicing tearing someone limb from limb is good practice for fighting the patriarchy.

    Good one, Norbiz. Won’t it be funny when those chips get switched w/ the ones in G.I. Joe pants? “Vengeance is mine!”

  8. ae

    Cafesiren, have you thought about getting your niece “The Paper Bag Princess”? It is a wonderful antidote to the more “traditional” princess crap.

  9. flea

    The reason the popularity of Barbie is going down the crapper is because little girls are clamoring for the vagina-mouthed, video vixen-clad Bratz nowadays.

    I have yet to go to a children’s party for a little girl that did not have the handwritten “NO BRATZ!” scrawled by the tot’s mother at the bottom of the invitation, but evidently *some* parents are buying them.

  10. sparklegirl

    I’m equally disgusted at the thought of Barbie clothing for adults, but…um…what’s wrong with Hello Kitty handbags? I love them, and I always thought they were just cute and playful. But then again I guess being 20 doesn’t count as being a grown woman….

  11. AndiF

    This makes me very happy. I enjoyed smirking at dolls and all their stupid accouterments my entire childhood, now I get to revive the practice in middle-age. Who says the patriarchy never does anything good?

    And I’ll bet this will just thrill the guys who own Real Dolls.

  12. grammazon

    Switching the voice-boxes of Barbie and GI Joe is a famous culture jam. Check out the excellent documentary “The Yes Men.” See! Barbie threaten her enemies with death. Hear! GI Joe extol the virtues of shopping for pretty clothes.

  13. JeffL

    buying a Barbie for your daughter is the Western equivalent of holding her down while grandma slices off her clitoris with a piece of broken glass.

    No, it’s really not. Yes, Barbie is the patriarchy all wrapped up in a pretty pink bow, but there is no way that purchasing anything is morally equivalent to performing a clitorectomy.

  14. CafeSiren

    AE — Just went to Amazon & checked out the link to the PBP — Great stuff! So… why do I hesitate? Because I’m afraid to impose my values on my brother’s family. ::sigh::

    Would-be patriarchy-bashers should not be this timid. Maybe I’ll get the book for her, in a package of several books. Stealth feminism for the kiddies.

  15. rich

    “but there is no way that purchasing anything is morally equivalent to performing a clitorectomy.”

    In other words, Jeff, you’re obviously smarter and more moral than feminists. Just how stupid do you think everyone else is?

  16. JeffL

    In other words, Jeff, you’re obviously smarter and more moral than feminists. Just how stupid do you think everyone else is?

    Wow. Project much, Rich? Where did I say I’m smarter? Or that anyone here is stupid?

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear, so let me try again. The amount of damage done by buying a Barbie and the amount of damage done by performing a clitorectomy are not the same — they’re not even in the ballpark. Twisty, if you were going for the laugh, well, I didn’t find it very funny. If, OTOH, you really do think they are the same, I disagree, and would like to hear more from you (or you, Rich) on how you came to believe they are the same.

  17. ae

    Cafesiren, far be it for me to meddle in your family’s affairs (like the patriarchy will), but you’re her aunt, you love her, and it’s not as if books are the only influence you’ll exert in her life. Besides, one little book can hardly combat the entirety of redundant patriarchal crap she’ll be fed from Day One. You’ll make the best decision for your family, stealth or unabashed. Might I suggest that once she’s digested TPBP, you move on to “Princess Smartypants”? =)

  18. Chris Clarke

    Twisty, if you were going for the laugh, well, I didn’t find it very funny.


    Eviscerating the clueless, as they say, is the best medicine. Nice of Jeff to expose his seamy underbelly.

  19. Kyra

    “buying a Barbie for your daughter is the Western equivalent of holding her down while grandma slices off her clitoris with a piece of broken glass.”

    Barbie can be outgrown.

    Sara—Interesting. I used to create porn scenes with my Barbies. Not the best of porn, though, seeing as they weren’t anatomically correct. Worst damage the things did to me was when my mother came in and found my boxful of naked Barbie & Ken dolls and went through them saying “This one is naked . . . and this one is indecent . . . and this one is exposed . . .” while dressing them, coming up with a new negative connotation for nudity with every single doll. Ugh.

  20. CafeSiren

    “Barbie can be outgrown.”

    True. But not without positive messages to counteract the Barbification of young girls. I had barbies as a kid; I had horrible body image problems growing up. But I don’t think that eliminating Barbie alone would have had me grow up loving my slightly lumpy body. Barbie is one voice in a shrieking chorus that tells girls that they’re not quite good enough, and the only way to be good enough is to be “pretty.” Not to mention having nice clothes.

    AE, my niece lives in another state, so, while I wish I could be around to serve as an living (single, professional, mostly happy) antidote to patriarchy, I can’t. At least, not on a daily basis.

  21. kabbage

    Is anyone else picturing the line of Barbie coffins and funeral accoutrements that could be showing up in the next 20 years or so?

  22. ae

    JeffL, I’ll take a stab at it. I’m not sure Twisty was being funny, per se. In fact, the impact on the psyches of girl children of immobile, fashion-fetishist role model dolls with unreal bodies and no script other than “Math is hard” is decidedly unfunny, which I take to be the point. Hyperbole is a common rhetorical tool employed to give greater emphasis to one’s statement. Comparing Barbie-related bullshit to clitoridectomy highlights the nefarious impact of what some would consider a (generally) harmless action and underscores Twisty’s feelings on the matter, to boot. Twisty can speak to her motives better than I can, of course.

    Twisty, maybe in lieu of the Wish List (since amazon leans Repub anyway), you could set up a PO Box? I promise no “luxe” goods, unless they come w/ 14 levels of irony.

    Cafesiren, heck.

  23. CafeSiren

    Barbie & c-ectomy, IMO, fall along a continuum that we can label “enforcement of patriarchal values.” Boob jobs fall somewhere in the middle. All three are bad for girls and grown women.

    I wonder if there are going to be barbie-luxe jeans made in anything over a size 12.

  24. Pinko Punko

    My feeling is that Barbie is the opposite of what Twisty says (a clitorodectomy)- I think it essentially says, no this is all that women are good for. I really do think it is the opposite and worse, even- it is not the denial of female sexuality, it is the absement of female sexuality as the means of satisfying the male. On the Western side I think that women are encouraged to appear as if they have also been satisfied, solely for the support of the man’s self-esteem. So I would have taken the hyperbole in the other direction. That’s just moi.

    I really really don’t want my kids to have Barbies.

  25. Leslie

    Having raised two rather well adjusted, nearly grown, sensible girls, I’m here to tell ya that girls will play with barbie dolls no matter what lengths you go to to avoid their contact with said creatures. And sometimes they still grow up well adjusted and “normal” in “our” sense of the word (that being none too normal to the rest of society). That being said, I still find it amazing that grown women would choose to don such crap.
    So chill, guys, Barbie didn’t ruin me, and likely won’t ruin your kids either.
    Twisty, thought you’d appreciate the fodder… it had your name on it!

  26. Rich

    “Wow. Project much, Rich”

    Mealy mouthed much?

    If you weren’t born with a clit it’s not your place to judge Twisty’s analogies; I’m sure she’s more than aware of the complexities on either side of the statement she made.

  27. CafeSiren

    Pinko, I see your point, but if you look at it another way, both are about patriarchal assertion of ownership of potential female sexuality. One is obvious in its physical brutality; the other is more insidious.

    Anyone out there read W.E.B. DuBois’ “Souls of Black Folk”? No, this isn’t a non sequitur. DuBois talks about “double consciousness,” in which he believes black people are forced to see themselves through another’s eyes. This, I think, is what the Barbie Culture (she is the small part that stands for the whole) does to young women: forces them to see themselves the way that the patriarchy sees them: in terms of their desirability, without which they have little value. *Double* consciousness means that they still have an authentic self-image, but by the time most of us are adult women, that self-image has been drowned out, as nearly every external message argues the opposite.

  28. BlondebutBright

    I’m not sure about that Leslie – personally, I never played with Barbie and still fell for the Seventeen propaganda a few years later. Barbie is just one example of the sexist crap that girls are confronted with in their younger years, crap that leads us to all “normally” function in our society.

  29. CafeSiren

    “Seventeen…” Ah, yes… Memories of endlessly poring over pictures and articles telling me… what? Mostly how to dress and what to buy. Those were the overt messages. But I also cut out pictures from the ads of women in bikinis, and tacked them up on my wall, from “fattest” (!) to thinnest, so I could measure my body against them.

    I still haven’t gotten there. But it did make me feel like shit for ages.

  30. CafeSiren

    I just found a link to an article with a picture of the clothing line.


    I’ll refrain from commenting, and just let the picture speak for itself.

  31. JeffL

    AE, thank you, that makes sense. I complete agree that the Barbie & all her crap is damaging to a girls self-image, and that Barbie’s unbiquity is Patriach driven. But, as Leslie points out, it is possible to play with Barbies as a kid, recognize it for what it is later in life, and still come out “OK” and “Normal” (as Leslie said). I’m sure a woman who has had a clitorectmy can still grow to be an “OK” and “normal” adult, but a permant change to her body has occured — one that has a continuing effect. And so, again, buying a Barbie and having a clitorectomy just don’t strike me as “equivlant” (Twisty’s word).

  32. wordgirl

    Cafesiren- As far as Barbie-luxe jeans in anything over a size 12….I think not. Fifty years ago a size 12 was just an everyday occurence. Now a size 12 is considered by many designers to be a Plus Size. I can’t imagine a Lane Bryant division of Barbie clothing anytime sooner than I would see Ralph Lauren admit that his size 2 models represent the average American woman.

  33. Chris Clarke

    And so, again, buying a Barbie and having a clitorectomy just don’t strike me as “equivlant” (Twisty’s word).

    If, Jeff, you’re new to Twisty’s writing, you might not know that she is in fact a perfessional arthur. As such, she has – in my professional opinion – a habit of choosing words rather more carefully than the typical blogger.

    Here’s a little exercise. Describe the difference in meaning between these two phrases:

    “X is the equivalent, in context A, of Y in context B.”
    “X is exactly the same as Y.”

    It might help to refer to a dictionary definition of the word: Merriam Webster offers this as a secondary definition under which Twisty’s use is utterly arguable: “like in signification or import.”

    Like in signification. Women in one society are controlled from girlhood by clitoridectomies, in another by unattainable body images. The two are equivalent. That doesn’t mean, were a gun held to my head and I ordered to choose one or the other for my niece, that I wouldn’t trip over myself buying every Barbie I could find. It means the two social phenomena fill the same function.

    But if you’re going to insist on braindead literalism, we could have a little talk about this obviously-false-on-its-face statement:

    but there is no way that purchasing anything is morally equivalent to performing a clitorectomy.

  34. ae

    Cafesiren, nice duBois reference. Well done, you!

    Chris, can I borrow your brain for a week? Mine’s getting a little rusty and needs to go into the shop for an overhaul. You’ve got more than enough to spare.

  35. Arjet

    girls will play with barbie dolls no matter what lengths you go to to avoid their contact with said creatures.

    My daughter’s 10, many of her friends have Barbies, so she comes in contact with them on a regular basis. She is in many ways a typical “girlie-girl” (ballet, stuffed animals, frilly dresses, Sound of Music).

    She still thinks Barbie is sexist crap.

  36. Buffalo Gal

    Twisty – OT, but I have to say it – your BC problems haven’t slowed your wit a bit! You’re whatever the female equivalent of mensch is.

  37. MsKate

    I have to admit, I did let one of my kids buy barbies. My son.

    He’s since outgrown it, thank f-ing g_d! I didn’t hesitate to point out why they were so mutated when he had them though.

    I think Barbie clothes are just as asinine as all of the Winnie The Pooh clothes and Disneecrap Clothes and other Little Girly Thingy clothes that grown women wear in order to appear to be so childfocussed that they can’t see in the mirror that they are actually MATRONS and not giant dress up dolls for their kids to drool on. If you don’t have a life outside your kids, I guess you never have to realize that you are a mature adult who is expected to make decisions and do what she wants sometimes, eh?

    Oh, but then you realize that you are supposed to be a sexpot for your manken … so the barbie clothes make a nice compromise …

  38. Emma Goldman

    I’m only a year or two younger than Barbie, and I had many of them: between us, my sister and I probably had 20 of them (Barbie, Alan, Ken, Scooter, Francie, Trixie (I think), and, of course, Midge). My grandmother, who was a dressmaker, made a lot of the clothes for them, which was cheaper than buying the clothes. My sister and I used them as three-dimensional characters in stories we told–essentially, our own long-running soap operas. And you know what? I turned out to be a big ol’ feminist, and from an early age, too. Some of it is because of age, I think: enforcement of the patriarchy was in flux when I was playing with Barbie, and I Failed To Internalize Properly. Flip side, though, as a theater production I saw years ago made clear, lots of girls use their Barbies in ways that are more subversive than submissive. (the production was called “Barbie: The Fantasies,” or something like that, and it included a variety of scenes–including “Barbie the Bull Dyke Goes to a Board Meeting” and including G. I. Joe in a few scenes–as well as videotaped interviews with women (and men) about what Barbie meant to them, how they played with Barbies (or mutilated their sisters’ Barbies), etc. I’m much more disturbed by DisneyPrincess crap, because it encourages girls to put on those costumes and become a Princess; Barbie can be anything you want her to be. But the thought of grown women dressing in Barbie clothes is truly disturbing. Yo, women, grow the fuck up!

  39. nancy m

    Chris Clarke, good introduction to the accomplishment of a Twisty trope but I’m still waiting for someone to point out that which I found most stinging in the phrase under the microscope.
    The act of (understood) buying a Barbie for your daughter is the Western equivalent of the act of(und.)holding her down while grandma slices…

    The Patriarchy couldn’t persist without willing women performing its zombie work. The details of the crippling are secondary.
    Twisty is definitely not feminism lite.

  40. Sara


    Has anyone else noticed that Ken has no penis and Barbie never gains any weight? Someone should phone The Independent immediately.

  41. JeffL

    But if you’re going to insist on braindead literalism, we could have a little talk about this obviously-false-on-its-face statement:

    Not braindead literalism, Chris, but as a math & science geek, I certainly took “equivalent” at Webster’s first definition, “equal in force, amount, or value.”

    But I get it now (I think!). What some cultures accomplish with clitorectomies, our culture accomplishes with Barbie. I’ll agree with that 100%!

    And, FWIW, I’ve been reading Twisty for the last month, refraining from commenting precisely because it’s clear that this ain’t yer typical blog. But I had a strong reaction to the last sentence of this post; strong enough that I felt I had to comment. And I’ll cop right here and now to the fact that I had the reaction becuase, after swearing we wouldn’t, my wife & I let our then-4-year-old nag us into buying her one of the damn things!

  42. Arjet

    OK–I already knew who Barbie’s German cousin was (that’s how I found the essay), but who knew she’d be the missing link between Barbie and the aforementioned clitorectomy:

    “a Mattel designer with a Yale engineering degree worked on making the doll look less like a “German streetwalker” by changing the shape of her lips and redoing her face… When the ex-hooker’s body was recast, her incorrigible nipples were rubbed off with a fine Swiss file.”


  43. Pinko Punko

    CS- yeah, that is was trying to get at- the less violent but more insidious aspect- it is all the sides of similar patriarchical coinage.

    I completely agree with your points. We are certainly dealing with mindfuckage of, well, patriarchical proportions.

  44. Chris Clarke

    Jeff, classy response. Sorry from that extra 4 percent of gratuitous snark.


    Chris, can I borrow your brain for a week?

    That might be hard to arrange.

  45. Chris Clarke

    Sorry FOR. grumble.

  46. Nella

    “Is anyone else picturing the line of Barbie coffins and funeral accoutrements that could be showing up in the next 20 years or so?”

    Heh, my Barbies were always having funerals back in the day…

  47. Amanda Marcotte

    That’s alarming news. Perhaps the solution if one is to come into possession of one of these items of clothing is to cut off its hair and give it a tattoo, as you did to your Barbies.

  48. BitingBeaver

    I despised Barbie when I was a child. I was (and still am) horse crazy however and occasionally I would take one of my sisters Barbies and put it on one of my Breyer horses. The helmet wouldn’t fit because of all Barbies hair and it made me endless disgusted that she couldn’t maintain a “heels down!” position.

    I think I performed a few ‘operations’ on Barbie to enable her to wear cowboy boots and a helmet.

    When I told my boys that story they laughed their asses off because, they too, have been victims of the ‘Get your heels down!’ schtick when they get their riding lessons on one of our 3 horses.

    So no, I wasn’t a big fan of Barbie, though it had little to do with the inherent mysogny in the doll, rather, it had everything to with the fact that I simply couldn’t get her into the proper position to ride my model horses.

  49. Steph

    My Barbies were always having naked pool parties in an ice-cream bucket full of water.

    And they all had hair cuts, breast reductions (achieved by banging them on the sidewalk) and tatoos.

    My daughter has some now (not from me) and rarely plays with them. She find them impossible to dress because their hips and boobs are too big and their feet are funny so they can’t stand properly.

    Barbie is an excellent tool to teach kids about patriarchal imagery if you ask me.

    Though I would prefer it if they were all whisked away into some black-hole of patriarchy that would be part of any just universe.

  50. MsKate

    I didn’t have my own barbies, but I did have some hand-me-downs and I didn’t play with them much. I vastly preferred my brother’s trucks and excavation equipment stuff in the sand pile out front. Together we would do what dad did all day – build highways, etc.

    One day I decided to make a spaceship. I took out a midge doll and made her a space suit by wrapping her in duct tape and then wrapping the tape around one of those little clear plastic bubbles from the little toy vending machines out front of Safeway. We then attached several bottle rockets to a paper tube painted white with a cone on top and shoved her inside ..

    I think she survived the launch. Duct tape is wonderous stuff.

  51. AndiF

    It would appear that in the girls-and-dolls-universe, there are three distinct populations:

    1. Girls who had dolls and loved them.
    2. Girls who had dolls and tortured them.
    3. Girls who never wanted or had dolls.

    And what a wonder of the “internets” that we should all meet up for patriarchy-blaming at Twisty’s.

  52. Jodie

    My inlaws gave my daughter barbies. She never played with them, even though she was a princessy girly girl when she was tiny (she has since outgrown her desire for frilly and now prefers utilitarian). I myself never liked barbies (or really much of any kind of doll); maybe she picked up on that — or maybe it was the patriarchy blaming conversations we began having from the time she could talk…

  53. Emma

    My parents favoured non gender-specific wooden toys made by collectives of displaced mineworkers, but that just made me crave Barbie like her oversized head was full of crack.

    I ended up with one hand-me-down Barbie, who used to star in elaborate stories about a glamorous singleton who spent time in her own jacuzzi (the cake-mixing bowl) between bouts of being a human-rights lawyer.

    I seem to have survived the experience with my patriarchy-blaming wits intact.

  54. Ron Sullivan

    Is anyone else picturing the line of Barbie coffins and funeral accoutrements that could be showing up in the next 20 years or so?

    First comes the Barbie quad-cane, then the Barbie walker… This is not exactly an outsider joke I’m making here. Maybe first comes the giant bottle of Barbie NSAIDS and the gianter bottle of Barbie antacids. Poor Barbie, those feet will be a pain in the ass.

    Bitingbeaver, I lucked out because I was too old for Barbies. I had a Jill, who had no tits and her feet were flat because she was supposed to be a pre-teen. Best of all, her knees bent, and she fit OK on a Breyer horse. My best friend and I made tack and caparison for them out of kleenex and tinfoil and cardboard and cord and the odd donated earring. Half the time when we played out dramas, we were the horses.

    My big identity shock growing up was when it dawned on me that I was going to grow up and turn into a woman, not a horse.

  55. kcb

    Did anyone have a Growing Up Skipper? My best friend Alyssa had one, and the gimmick was that when you cranked Skipper’s arm, her boobs grew. Only when we did it, Skipper’s head also fell off. Coincidence?

  56. FoolishOwl

    From childhood, I recall a lot of girls who had a lot of decapitated Barbies, with their heads mounted on pencils. It seems that the French Revolution has a lot of resonance with adolescent girls.

  57. krystalwolf

    I’ve read so many posts here, and I have to say the barbie line of adult women’s clothes is just absurd and bizarre. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the forerunner of this is Japan. Hmm, they also eat live Octopi over there, and sleep in coffin sized spaces and pay $100.00 per pound for ground beef. If they think Barbie clothes are cool, well that’s their problem. If it catches on here I’ll be shocked. In my opinion, I always thought barbie kinda dressed like a drag queen. Then again I grew up during the 70’s and the glowing hot pink satin gowns were too much for my taste even as a kid. I had a very matriachal environment, and none of them looked like barbie, but they all kicked butt. That’s who I wanted to be.

    As far as playing with barbie dolls goes? I think they help kids build imagination and live out harmless little fantasies. I always knew, (as I had pro active parents) that barbie was a fictional TOY character that had very little human qualities) I never once wanted to BE her. I enjoyed setting up her house, and barn and pretending to go on airplane rides and stuff like that.

    I think the world just expects too much from society. Taking something ‘away’ from your kids that is nothing more than a toy, has nowhere near the effect that reminding them what they are doing is playing with a toy.

    We need to raise our kids to believe that life is not perfect, we’re not perfect, they are not perfect…that is what makes US, HUMAN. A toy is still a toy, and whether it’s guns, violent cartoons, or barbie…it’s still the parents responsibility to make sure the child knows the difference between fantasty and reality.

    If we keep putting expectations on society to do these things for our kids, we are always going to be let down. My 9 year old has been giving barbies here and there over the years and she hardly bothers with them. They just aren’t ‘her’…because they just aren’t me. I’m the woman she admires…she tries to wear what I wear, and do what I do. I live my daily life trying to set the right example for my kids on what a woman should be, a wife should be and a mother should be, and Barbie just isn’t it.

    If I had cut barbies out of her life, like any kid, they’d be all that much more sought after and important to her. When you take something harmless away from a kid, it really makes them want it…..we always identify with the forbidden more than what’s laying right in front of us.

  58. WookieMonster

    I inherited my sisters’ Barbie collection, I only really played as the horses though (we had actuall Barbie brand horses that came with tack that supposedly fit both the horses and Barbie, but her stupid hands and feet never worked right with anything, did they?). When my cousins came over they were the Barbies and I was the horses. The Barbies did spend some time being decapitated by Skelator though…and being saved by She-ra.

    I’m proud to say that I own a grand total of zero pink clothing.

  59. Christopher

    “Flip side, though, as a theater production I saw years ago made clear, lots of girls use their Barbies in ways that are more subversive than submissive…”

    Yeah, kids are kind of weird, and the narratives they invent for their toys are, in my experience, rarely those that the toy companies provide.

    I remember when I was a kid in the 80s I had one of those 3 inch GI Joes, he was some nameless bad guy thug that the heroes are supposed to kill in the millions, and his legs and one arm had broken off, but my best friend called him “the Advisor” and he was omnipotent, but he would never use his powers, he just gave people advice in exchange for weapons.

    He also ran hell, and we used to play a game called “What the Devil” where we would run hell and torture the action figures I didn’t like.

    I can relate to the thing about Barbies legs never being good for anything; it drove me nuts that so few of my action figures could sit down.

    I digress. Also at this age, I was absolutely obsessed with the “My Little Pony” TV show. I didn’t like the toys, thoug, because A)they weren’t possable, and B)They didn’t have all the characters from the show. In the show, the police force in Happy Pony Valley or wherever the fuck they lived was made up of giant crab monsters, and the ponies had to fight off lava men.

    I think adding huge crabs to the My Little Pony toy line could only have broadened the appeal, myself.

    Sorry for the rambling, but toys make me nostalgic. This is something that happens in our nerd chic culture; even knowing how stupid and commercialised modern toys are, I still really like them. I mean, even though I know I should get nice, non-corporate, creative toys as presents for kids, it’s hard, because I’m likely to think ultra-destructor robots are just as cool as they do.

  60. Anonymous

    One of the definitions for aspiration is: “The process of removing fluids or gases from the body with a suction device”

    The “drainiac” is performing aspiration. The Barbie clothes are sucking in a completely different way.

  61. Sarah Ennals

    “and the ponies had to fight off lava men.”

    Really? Damn. I liked those ponies anyway (their expressions were less smug than the Barbies), and lava-men would have made it all the better. I don’t get why they ride scooters nowadays though. Those lazy ponies.

    My brother and I never liked GI Joe, but the one he was given for his birthday had great articulation points, and always beat our other action figures in dance contests.

    Actually I quite like the Bratz – they aren’t all white and blonde, even if they are all thin, and the interchangeable feet-shoes neatly solve the flats vs heels problem. I do think the face designs work better on the mini-Bratz than on the large ones.

    Also, I like to re-dress them in weird outfits. I’m thinking of making one of the boys into a Gerry Anderson Thunderbirds character.

  62. shereen

    I don’t think barbie is so bad. kill me. i enjoyed playing with them when i was a kid, just as i enjoy dressing up now. it’s fun. as long as the kids themselves request them i don’t think they fuck them up too much.

  63. Mary Ann

    Overheard in the toy aisle of the grocery store: Girl: Mommy why don’t you like Barbie? Woman: ‘Cause no one really looks like that.

    A friend of my daughter has a Mattel tattoo at the base of her neck.

    Cafesiren: I’ll be surprised if the Barbie clothes will be made up to size 7. Even the friend with the Mattel tattoo is quite a bit bigger than that.

    AE: I used to carry TPBP to entertain the kids while we waited for dinner in restaurants. We all enjoyed it.

  64. Sady O

    Aww, but don’t you really WANT to be Barbie? I know that’s my goal in life.

  65. Nomen Nescio

    “what’s wrong with Hello Kitty handbags? I love them, and I always thought they were just cute and playful.”

    what’s wrong with it (IMAO, anyway) is that it’s too over-the-top cute, to the point of saccharine overload a la ewoks.

    unlike ewoks, however, at least hello kitty can be improved.

  66. drublood

    My boys go to play therapy a couple of times a month. I remember after the first session, they came home all thrilled because “Sherry has cowboys and Indians, mom! And toy soldiers, too!”

    I was mortified, but I figured “Hey, I’m not a psychotherapist…maybe there’s healing in the cowboys, Indians, and soldiers that I’m unaware of.”

    The next time they went, they came home and told me again about the cowboys and Indians. Monk, my eldest, said “Yeah. I told Sherry they’re called “Native Americans”…and then the Native Americans and the soldiers teamed up and kicked the cowboys’ asses.”

    I wasn’t sure if I should feel relieved, or if I should blame the patriarchy for their need to “kick some ass” in the first place.

  67. v

    i dress up for my toddler, paint my face along with hers, pretend to be animals, do voices for her toys, etc. grown women can and do leave the house with full face paint on. and they should do it more often, its refreshing, and amusing watching other ‘adults’ respond.

    i love kiddie stuff. anyone flicked through ‘fruits’? i love the kooky and the kitsch.

    i hate barbie though. and grown women who walk around sucking lollipops. we all draw our lines somewhere.

  68. sparklegirl

    I love “Fruits”!

  69. sparklegirl

    Nomen Nescio, that Kalashnikitty thing is hilarious–I like this one too. I love Hello Kitty with a passion, but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating parodies of it. And I admit there is definitely a difference between me as a 20-year old college student wearing Hello Kitty purses and someone significantly older, with a real job and such, doing the same.

    As for Barbies, I agree the most with Krystalwolf. I didn’t get into Barbies until I was 7 or 8, but then I got really into them–my friends and I constructed all sorts of detailed narratives for them, which didn’t have much to do with how they looked.

    One story that went on for years was about a group of orphans who had banded together, and I drew catalogues for the characters based on the American Girl Doll catalogues. At one point it even had a Ken doll playing God, who was duly drawn in the catalog along with “God’s store!” I never liked the puffy princessy dresses, and traded them to other friends if I ever came into possesion of them, because I wanted my characters to have realistic outfits.

    With another one of my friends, a little later, our Barbies all got together and talked about their first sexual experiences. And later, once I had grown out of taking Barbies seriously, one of my friends and I did have fun mutilating them with fake blood and bandages and such.

    I was just the kind of kid who would have played with dolls no matter what, because I loved making up stories, so I have a pretty positive view of my experience with Barbies.

    But I do agree that their unrealistic bodies are a problem, and I think it would be ideal if there were dolls for children that came in a variety of shapes and sizes that reflected the nature of real bodies–and if girls and boys were equally allowed to play with them.

  70. Sean

    Hey. One of the postings mentions a play called Barbie: The Fantasies. I am one of the authors of that play as well as the actor who played Ken (I co-authored with steve milford, laurie nelson, and lance hunt). It was performed many, many years ago at the Rudely Elegant Theatre and Gallery in Chicago’s Wicker Park. The theatre was in a space above the coffee shop Urbis Orbis. Later MTV acquired the space and turned it into a residence for the cast of MTV Real World.

    Nice to see that someone remembered our little production. At the time, it was quite successful, it ran initially for I think six months, and then it ran again the following year for another four months. Unfortunately Wicker Park wasn’t quite the hot spot it is now, so getting theatre goers to come to that part of town was a challenge. But we did it.

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