TWTIRTW: Shut Up About Barbie Dolls

This week in The Worst Thing I Read This Week: Thought Catalog contributor Keating Thomas thinks toys don’t affect/control the beauty standards women face.

First, let me start off by saying I think men can talk about feminism all they want- I in no way subscribe to the belief that men don’t know what they’re talking about when it come to gender inequality. This man, however, really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Let’s jump in:

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. But for people who don’t pray to the god of Walmart (or as I call it, the Great Wal of China), you’ll be doing your Christmas shopping within the next few weeks. Or if you’re like me, on Dec. 24.

And every year, that same dumb skinny blonde is always the most-talked about thing. No, I don’t mean David Spade; I mean Barbie.

I’m all for feminism and equal rights for both genders. I’m glad women get to vote, so they can be pandered to by corporate-run politicians and have absolutely no say in how our elected officials govern as much as men are. That’s an awesome thing.

Ok we’re all good here, I’m liking what he’s saying- oh god, wait where is he going with this?! No, Keatsy, no!

But people who think the toys we play with as children actually affect our lives as adults are delusional.

The American Association of University Women, which has been deluding women since 1881, put out its second annual “Holiday Gift Guide for Girls” in early November. Sorry, did I say deluding? I meant empowering. Empowering women. Damn misogynistic autocorrect. That’s like the time I typed that Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State, and it autocorrected it to Administrative Assistant of State.

I’m so conflicted because ^ that’s great writing and I totally agree, but…

The AAUW offers 16 toy ideas that it says are not “highly gendered” and don’t promote “stereotyped and objectified images of girls.” It should be called, the “Holiday Gift Guide for Girls Who Will Soon Hate Their Parents More Than Usual.”

The one that stuck out to me was the Computer Engineer Barbie. And they even comment on how their regular readers are probably shocked to see it on the list. All Mattel did was make a typical Barbie and then add the following accessories: a pink laptop, a pink cellphone and a Bluetooth in her in her ear (a Pinktooth would have been better). Then they just magically call her a computer engineer. The real-life accessories they forgot to include were a pink slip, because her job has been outsourced to India, and about seven house cats.

The AAUW says it’s perfect for girls ages 0-3. Yeah, because that’s when I start to play with toys that really have an effect on my future career goals. If only my parents had given me the My Buddy District Attorney, I’d have gone to law school like they wanted.

Everyone needs to stop thinking that Barbie dolls ruin girls’ lives, or matter at all. People think Barbie is responsible for promoting an unrealistic idea of body image for young women. I think that would happen with or without Barbie. That’s a larger issue that Barbie has nothing to do with. It’s absurd to think she does. Girls’ own mothers telling them to focus on losing weight so they can find a husband is worse. That’s bad parenting.

Ok, chicken or egg aside, Barbie is no doubt a contributor to this unrealistic standard and profits on women’s insecurities- I’m down with bitching about that. Whether or not Barbie is the cause, she’s certainly exacerbating the problem.

Listen, I played with toys growing up, too, but I didn’t spend the rest of my life feeling inadequate about my lack of mutant ninja skills.

Two of my favorite things as a kid were my toy gun and Big League Chew. And guess what? I didn’t grow up to be a redneck. And I’m from Arizona, so it could have happened. Toy guns were constantly my favorite thing. But as I matured, the real ones didn’t appeal to me. And real chewing tobacco doesn’t appeal to me either.

I played with G.I. Joes, and I never for a second considered joining the military.

I loved my Pound Puppy, but I don’t want to own a dog.

I mastered Legos, but it still takes me five hours to build a small nightstand from IKEA.

I was enthralled by any Magic 8 Ball, but I don’t have a desire to go to a fortune teller.

I highly enjoyed Fisher-Price Little People, but I don’t have any friends who are dwarfs.

I owned many Koosh balls, but I’m not a pothead.

Loved my Etch A Sketch, but I didn’t grow up to waffle on my political beliefs.

I had slap bracelets, but I’ve never beat a significant other.

Not everyone who played with a Tickle Me Elmo grew up to be pedophiles (just, sadly, Elmo himself).

Our toys are not as powerful as we would be lead to believe by some. They’re just toys.

Now hold on there, Keatsy- here’s where I’ve got beef. No one is saying that all toys influence the futures of children. The reason Mattel put out an engineering Barbie in a misguided attempt to show girls the could go into computer engineering because GIRLS DO NOT HAVE REAL LIFE ROLE MODELS IN THAT FIELD. It didn’t affect you, Keatsy, because you have a penis and that means you can do whatever you want in life- there was never a question of whether or not you could go into computer engineering, but for women that simply isn’t true.

Every force, every image, every word aimed at girls tells them their value lies in their appearance- that they are decorative, just like Barbie. Their accomplishments are tempered in a double standard that only identifies their work as good “for a woman.” Even Barbie’s career in computer science is just a new way to accessorize.

The things that kids get from their parents that last are abuse, divorce, and, of course, insecurity.

And who the fuck even thinks Barbie is even hot? She’s ugly. I never looked at a Barbie doll and thought, “Man, I want to bang something like that.” No, she’s ghoulish. The hottest things about Barbie are her Mailbu Dreamhouse and Corvette convertible.

That’s because she’s not meant to be hot- she’s meant to be pretty. The word that every girl’s life revolves around. She can look and act pretty or ugly and those terms are defined by old fat white men- no her.

The ironic thing is that the toys girls play with as adults make me feel inadequate. I’d rather compete with a dick-less Ken doll than a 15-inch cock that never goes soft and vibrates.

Let’s stop pretending the toys children play with are so future-shaping. Let’s stop making her a scapegoat for poor parenting.

Poor parenting? Try a centuries old conspiracy to make women feel inadequate to get them to spend money on makeup and clothes. I’m not even being paranoid- the entire world conspires to make me feel imperfect and then tries to sell me the cure.

George Carlin made a good observation in 1988: “It’s a great country, but it’s a strange culture … They’re thinking about banning toy guns, and they’re gonna keep the fucking real ones”

The difference here is that Barbie is an extension of an anti-women agenda that treats women like dolls. We are to be used and discarded, clothed and primped, and pacified with material possessions. To say that Barbie has no power is to ignore the insecurity she feeds on like a size 0 succubus.

Shut Up About Barbie Dolls | Thought Catalog.


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