While my brother was six, his teacher asked, “Who is your role model?”. And he fervently replied, “Barbie Doll”. Momentarily, he was ridiculed by his fellow mates, lambasted by my own parents and compelled me to think, “Are Barbie dolls a mere physical embodiment of sheer beauty devoid of power and intelligence? Has sexism started prevailing in choice of our role models also? Even, I was mocked till death on my proclamation as a kid that I will be a Barbie as a grown up girl.
“You can’t be a Barbie”, my friends always said sneeringly. And I wondered:
Is being a Barbie means having a tall & slender body?
Is being a Barbie means having silky long hair?
Is being a Barbie means being a Fashion Icon?
If you don’t possess the above, “Can’t you be a Barbie?”.
Barbie Dolls have been ubiquitous since their birth in 1959 by Ruth Handler in association with Mattel Creations. Impeccably integrating the characteristics of a women of that era, she represented herself as a fashion model, teacher, nurse, ballerina, flight attendant etc. Quite impressive right? But, don’t you think that these professions spouted platitudes about women gradually? Ever asked, “Why are we gravitated towards Barbie”. The most voted answer will be her “sheer beauty” or her “style”. Didn’t it put a lid on women, their identity and even their association with fashion.
Hence, when Barbie turned into NASCR driver, pilot military officer, paleontologist gradually, I was over the moon. Soaring in her career prospects, she was independent finally. Throwing away the bowlines, she was exploring, dreaming, discovering. She was endeavoring to be the best version of herself; Unbeatable, Unstoppable. At last, she marked herself as not only elegant but also powerful.
However, Barbie had played every role except one – Motherhood. Though her friend Midge conceived, she was never a symbol of true love & care. Would motherhood have tarnished her successful career? Is beauty objectified only to flat tummies & perfect derriere? Is Barbie harping on radical feminism indirectly?
Yes, Barbie is an epitome of grandeur but she also indulges in ostentatious behaviour. Barbie teaches us to be impeccable but she also provokes insecurities about our physical appearance. Barbie symbolises that women are powerful but she is also oblivious towards real love & care. At such times, I just remember one thing- It is good to have a career but you can’t curl up to it on a lonely night.
Thus, Be Powerful, Be Tender. Be Self Effacing, Be Beautiful, Be Intellectual.
P.S: Be a Barbie of your own kind.