Barbie

5 Sep

I've been reading lately that Barbie sales have been declining. It's about time, she's had a long run. She was introduced in 1959, if she was a 20 something then, the 54 years since added to her 20 would make her 74, must say she looks pretty good.

Barbies looking chic in Givenchy, just like Jackie.

The reasons for her drop in popularity are complex when you consider the societal changes since 1959. In 59 little girls still dreamed of glamorous clothes, cool cars and the perfect white bread boyfriend, Ken certainly fit the bill. Life was simple then, marriage, a house in the burbs, a husband, a stay at home mom and 2 kids was the norm.

Barbie and Ken flying to Kansas City for Kens Insurance Convention

Mattel had it easy designing for Barbie in 60's. An outfit for every event. They wardrobed her in smart little knock off Chanel suits,for travel. Classic tennis togs for an afternoon at the country club and chic lame tops matched with Capri pants for patio cocktail parties. She even had alluring peignoir sets for the boudoir. (seducing Ken took some effort) she was a nurse, she took ballet lessons and she wanted to sing like Julie London. All the looks and the professions she doned were represented the aspirations of a 10 year old of that time period. Don't forget Jackie Kennedy, the major style icon of the 60's. Barbie had a pillbox.

At the present, here in the age of too much information, how can poor old Barbie keep up? Judging from the display Miley Cyrus put on at the latest MTV awards Barbie has been left in the dust. Lady Gaga is the new standard of style ( or the lack of style ). 10 year olds are being bombarded with images of blatant sexuality. 50 years ago Jayne Mansfield's cleavage or Monroe's Happy Birthday Mr.President were considered shocking, but pale in comparison to what is available for young minds today.

Not sure what profession Miley ass-spires to.

Barbie naked was never an issue, she had all the appeal of a retail mannequin, with no suggestion of any sexuality. For little girls in the 60's she was the touchstone for thier future lives, the manifestation of all they hoped to someday become. As time went on she morphed into every minority and every possible profession, except the militant feminists of the 70's and 80's there was never a Gloria Steinem Barbie. Gloria didnt fit into the marketable mold that kept Barbie selling, ironically the generation who were the first Barbie fans, were the first who realized she was a fraud. A woman designed by corporate interests to mirror the most unliberated female image. A woman trapped in her role of subservient Stepford wives obedience.

Barbie has lost her way,is she a slut or a champion of womens rights,can she be both? Is a slut liberated? Can a Gloria Barbie sell? I think not. Mattel is working feverishly to turn her diminished fame around. The entertainment industry has taken over in the creation of female icons for young girls, The allure of fame and wealth seen in Pop stars videos is far more enticing than a plastic doll. Barbie is caught between a rock and a hard place, that a new wardrobe will not remedy.

 

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