Today marks one week since Entrepreneur Barbie created a shit storm all over the internet; in honor of that, I’m going to share my own super unqualified and perhaps not very relevant opinions on the doll.
A lot of people seem pretty thrilled that Mattel has produced a doll that embodies someone so inspirational to young girls—a woman who is her own startup and who lives life #unapologetically. We can’t exactly take this away from Mattel. If little girls are going to be playing with Barbies, why not make them ones who are successful, ones who, like Dr. Barbie and Teacher Barbie, shows little girls that they can literally be anything they want to be?
Except for the fact that all of that’s crap. While it’s beating a dead horse to discuss how Barbie, anatomically, is super unhealthy for little girls to play with, I’ll tell you what isn’t: a discussion of what Barbie’s appearance says about success for women in America.
I believe America has yet to reach equal rights. I believe that being a young girl and exposed to mainstream media is hard. I believe it’s bullshit that we’ve yet to have a female president. But I reject the notion that America hates successful women. Yup, you heard me right; I do not believe that America hates successful women. I think the world is a pretty tough place for women, but I think a blanket statement that America doesn’t want to see a woman in power is absolutely absurd. As a nation we celebrate so many women for their success and those women serve as role models for younger generations. We’ve got Hillary Clinton, who, while not 100% beloved around America, certainly has her fans; we’ve got the Kardashians, and although I’m not sure how they’re successful, they seem to be doing pretty well; and we’ve got Michele Obama, who’s on Forbes’ list of the top 100 Most Powerful Women.
And what do all of these very different women have in common? They’re all hot. So if I don’t believe that America hates successful women, what do I believe? You guessed it—that America only likes successful women if they’re “attractive”.
This isn’t to say those women don’t deserve to be loved by the American public due to their success (except maybe the Kardashians), but it’s important to highlight (to women and little girls) that female success is only really celebrated when the female in question has it all. That’s to say, we only like the successful women who are also beautiful, who dress well, who are married and straight and who have a good, wholesome family. So where does that leave the successes who aren’t “hot” by society’s definition? Who aren’t married, who are gay, who don’t want to have kids? Where does it leave them?
Maybe they’re not waiting to be a success; maybe they’ve got equal pay and maybe they’ve got that CEO position that they rightfully earned and they’re already a success. But you know what? Despite their success, no one gives a damn. And I still think that’s crap. Because you know what? Whether a woman is conventionally good-looking or not (I won’t even get started on how those conventions are defined by men), they should be celebrated as role models for little girls. We women need as many role models as we can get; God only knows men have plenty.
So how does Entrepreneur Barbie factor into all of this? She factors in the same way every other hot success does: little girls, by seeing good-looking, successful role models and by playing with toys like Entrepreneur Barbie, will start to believe that if you want to grow up to be successful, you better grow up to be hot. Put away the fact that I think there’s something beautiful about every woman; little girls need to start hearing that success comes from what’s inside of your head, not what’s on it.
We all know that Barbie’s body is unrealistic and that her physique serves as a major controversy. And while I agree that she’s not the healthiest of toys for little girls, I’ve always admired Barbie because of the many jobs she’s held. I’ve always liked that she’s told me that I can grow up to be whatever I wanted to be; I just hope someday she tells me that while I’m out there being I can look however I want to look, too.