Barbie at 50

There’s a movement on to ban her, for reasons familiar to feminist philosophers. But there are also some surprising bits of history to be found in this article… Apparently there was a genuinely feminist idea involved in Barbie’s creation, however imperfectly executed: to give girls something other than a baby doll to play with so that they would be able to play at aspirations other than motherhood. The article also mentions the famed “Math class is tough” Barbie (whose voiceboxes were swapped with some GI Joes in one of the most wonderful acts of industrial sabotage I’ve ever heard of). And one version of Skipper, Barbie’s sister, whose breasts apparently grew when you rotated her arm!! I was also unaware that there is now a Barbie for President.


I must say that I still have fond memories of the Gay Ken incident in the 1990s. I remember reading at the time that in an effort to make Ken cooler, they sent some employees off to the Village to find out what the kids were wearing– which is what led to the purple mesh vest and cock ring.


Shave-me Ken was also a bit of a high point for me.

Anyway, I thought it was at least noting the upcoming milestone for this rather important bit of pop culture. (Thanks, Jender-Parents.)

5 thoughts on “Barbie at 50

  1. i think remember the boob skipper! i wasn’t allowed to have barbies (which is odd; my mother isn’t exactly a die-hard feminist), but i feel certain one of my neighbours had this skipper. it was hard plastic like a normal barbie, except that its chest was cut out, and the hard growie boobie bits were covered over by a film of rubber. very strange toy! as if puberty wasn’t freaky enough without the grotesque representations of it.

  2. Glad you like it, Monkey– thinking of it always makes me smile. I discovered Shave Me Ken when I tried to buy a Gay Ken for a friend’s birthday but they were sold out.

  3. I incidentally ran across thisBBC article on barbie, and I thought it was interesting and THEN I did a search on this Sarah Burge person, who has spent half a million pounds on plastic surgery in order to look like barbie (results
    here, beware, those pics are scary, although admittedly not as scary as those of of Jocelyn Wildenstein (and if you don’t know her, don’t google her)).
    I quote ms Burge “It’s empowering for women to be who they want to be and not just live with the body and face they were born with.”
    Heck, lady. I am fine with this body of mine and I find it empowering for me to have other people live with exactly that fact… only thing I wish for is being smarter.
    I sure as hell wish SHE were smarter.

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