In my philosophy class at NYU, I used to passionately argue against the feminists that Barbie dolls are acceptably hyper-feminine in the same way that G.I. Joe action figures are hyper-masculine.
But 15 years — and three kids — later, I have to admit: I was being cantankerous because I never wanted to side with feminists. This realization about those old classroom arguments came to me last week when we received a new Barbie catalog in the mail.
I flipped through it with my twelve-year-old daughter Camille whom I thought might be interested in the cool, smartly dressed dolls. Although I thought Barbies were fine, I always bought her the “Only Hearts Club” dolls which are softly bendable and have girl-shaped bodies, kind faces, and modest-yet-hip clothing.
That’s why I was interested that her response to the catalog consisted of mild indifference and even an eye-roll. “Look at this one,” she said, pointing to the tattooed punk Barbie that’s supposedly causing a mini-stir among parents. Then, she tossed it in the trash and ran to her room with the American Girl catalog that arrived in the mail on the same day. As she scampered up the stairs, I felt thankful to God for a daughter who prefers the American Girl catalog to a Barbie advertisement.
And I also realized that my old childhood friend, Barbie (with the blue eyeshadow, the Dolly Parton-esque top, and the legs that stretch for miles) really does look like a porn star.
Sorry, old NYU classmates. You were right on this one.