Last week Mattel hosted a major press conference in New York City and announced that Barbie was running for President of the United States. Yes, the blonde icon with the body that launched many eating disorders was, as the press release announced, “standing on her own two feet” and announcing her candidacy. Apparently the fact that this Barbie is standing on her own two feet…”just like other powerful leaders,” is suppose to be a big deal. Are you kidding me??
OK, I’ll give Mattel credit in that they tried to spin this as a “girl power story” by teaming up with The White House Project , a national non-partisan, non-profit women’s leadership development organization that will act as her campaign advisor. At their annual gala in November one lucky girl will be presented with the Barbie I Can Be Award. I can just see a bunch of PR guys…and I do mean “guys”…sitting around a conference room and dreaming this one up. “Yeah, this will appease those women who think Barbie objectifies women and promotes an unhealthy idea of beauty,” they rationalized.
If I hadn’t read the press release myself I wouldn’t have believed it. Having been in PR, I realize it’s their job to promote the product as best they can, but was the poor publicist who wrote this release really able to keep a straight face as he/she talked about how this doll promotes and inspires girls to be leaders and reach for their dreams and in the next sentence talk about Barbie’s “glam-paign” on her quest for “The Pink House?”
What platform is Barbie running on might you ask? It’s the B Party with the slogan “B inspired”, “B informed”, “B involved.” I guess grammar shouldn’t be a concern for young girls or POTUS Barbie. Probably what most disgusted me was the description of President Barbie: “A true fashionista both on and off the campaign trail, Barbie® keeps her political style classic and sophisticated, wearing a pink skirt suit with red, white, and blue trim. She accessorizes with a sophisticated pearl (their italics, not mine) necklace and earrings and proudly sports a B Party campaign button, representing girls nationwide. Vote for Barbie!”
Once again the message coming through to our girls is that brains and substance don’t matter, as long as you can accessorize, you’ll be a success. Shame on you Mattel!