She looks pretty good for 50, don’t you think? It’s rather amazing to see the impact a simple doll has had on American girls. She doesn’t talk. She doesn’t wet. She doesn’t come with some goofy birth certificate. She’s a doll, for heaven’s sake.
And yet…she’s become an icon, both revered and reviled. Some say that Barbie’s figure leads girls to unrealistic body image issues, and contributes to anorexia and bulimia. Yeah, well. Mattel has sold over a billion of the things. There’s not that many people with eating disorders.
Did you know her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts? Or that she’s had more than 80 careers? That she’s had 43 pets? That she didn’t have a belly button for 41 years? Personally, I don’t know whether she’s stringing Ken along or vice versa, but I think their relationship has been platonic long enough.
So to Barbie, I say congratulations on your longevity. And happy birthday. It’s hard to imagine an American girl’s room without you.
(Originally published April 10, 2009)
(By the way…a friend of mine, Stacy McAnulty, just published an online book called My Life According to Barbie. I can personally testify that it’s funny, because I served as its copy editor. It’s available for Kindle, iPad and the Nook.)