Open Letter to Mattel:
Wow, Mattel, it like, took you long enough. Nothing like dwindling sales to respond finally to the zillions of critiques that Barbie was too skinny and buxom for girls to play with and still have a future free of eating disorders, and for their feminist mothers to agree to purchase.
But, hey, at least it finally happened.
And so we’re wondering how long it will take you to allow Barbie into the 21st Century with skills like karate, axe kicks, and verbal self-defense.
I mean, Barbie’s been talking since the 1990s. She’s been using social media for a decade. And she’s been sexual for–let’s face it–over 50 years. I mean, come on, “Sweater Girl” Barbie was not really about knitting.
Mattel, you ask us to imagine the possibilities – professor, veterinarian, coach, executive, world traveler. How about a Barbie who can set and assert her own boundaries, who can talk to Ken – or Skipper – about what she wants in an intimate partner, who can say “yes” when she wants something and “no” when she doesn’t, and who has the verbal and physical skills to stop someone from trying to hurt her or assault her or rape her?
Barbie can be the object of our consumerist one-percenter aspirations, or Barbie can become the toy through which girls can imagine a future in which they can be smart, strong, successful, and safe. If our girls can imagine Barbie saying “No!”, executing an eye strike, kneeing Ken in his groin, just think what they can imagine for themselves.
With love and the certainty that the beach really is the place for summer,
Martha & Jill