Cut the poor woman some slack: Barbie is not the enemy here

2014-03-23T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T11:57:24Z Cut the poor woman some slack: Barbie is not the enemy hereBy Bonnie Henry Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

She may be the most hated blonde in America after Gwyneth Paltrow.

Exactly why, I’m not sure, though I would say in Paltrow’s case it’s the green-eyed monster. Who wouldn’t want her looks, her lifestyle, her career?

But Barbie? She’s a not-quite-foot-long hunk of plastic yoked to a boyfriend whose underwear never comes off. Who envys that? It’s no wonder that Barbie split with Ken in 2004, though it’s reported they reunited in 2011.

While little girls still seem to love Barbie — who turns 55 this year — her detractors are legion. The latest seem to be a couple of consumer-advocacy groups who have asked the Girl Scouts to end their seven-month-long partnership with Barbie. Included in that partnership: a Barbie-themed activity book, website and participation patch.

So far, Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, is holding firm, touting the message that “Barbie can do anything.”

I’ll say. Over the years, Barbie has plunged into more than a hundred careers, including football coach, dentist, doctor, surgeon, paratrooper, astronaut, police officer, bus driver, pet stylist, NASCAR driver, business executive, and president of the United States of America. She’s also served in the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.

The way I see it, about the only thing left for her to try is computer hacker and funeral director.

And yet, her voluptuousness and long, blond hair somehow work to “suppress a little girl’s ambitions.” That’s the word from a recent study conducted in a psychology lab at Oregon State University, where 37 little girls played five minutes each with Barbie and with Mrs. Potato Head. According to the study, the little girls who played with Mrs. Potato Head believed they “could grow up to do pretty much anything a boy could do.” But alas, those same girls who played with Barbie believed there were 1.5 fewer careers for them than there were for the boys.

Still to be answered — no doubt by yet another idiotic study: Exactly how did Mrs. Potato Head, with her lavender hat, hoop earrings, pouty red lips and white gloves, inspire such confidence in these girls?

Luckily, I was already a teenager when Barbie came along, so I never had my ambition “suppressed” by playing with her. Far as I know, the closest Barbie came to a journalism career was as News Anchor Barbie a few years ago.

Nonetheless, I would come into plenty of contact with my daughter’s Barbies a few years later, especially the headless ones her younger brother liked to strew up and down the hallway.

I’ll confess, most of my daughter’s Barbies seemed to drift into fashion-model careers — that is until an elderly aunt mailed a package of homemade outfits straight out of “Little House on the Prairie.”

Pioneer Barbie? Hey, why not.

The point is, whether she’s wearing a bikini or overalls, Barbie is not the enemy here. Believe me, all you moms out there: If the worst thing your daughter ever does is play with Barbie in all her different incarnations, you are lucky beyond belief.

Bonnie Henry’s column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at Bonniehenryaz@gmail.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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