Thursday, September 25, 2008

Barbie Power

There's a lot of talk going around the feminist blogosphere about Nina Westerburg's photoshopped Barbie image (above) showing a prego Barbie. The ladies of Jezebel said: "The fact that this could totally be a real doll probably says a lot about our society — or at least our ability to be shocked by Barbie art."

Now, I'm not sure what all I missed out on growing up Baptist, but I don't think I've ever heard of any Barbie art, much less something that is actually shocking. And as far as it being a real doll, well, who would really be surprised? We've already got Barbie the Baby Doctor and we used to have Barbie acting as mother to whatever little "sister" they created for her. I can't remember her name right now, but if you used to play with Barbies, I'm sure you know who I mean.

To me, and this was certainly helped by the advertising, Barbie was simply a stand-in for any female, that's why she could be a princes, mermaid, doctor and homemaker all at the same time. I always felt that these dolls epitomized female power in very subtle ways (which is why I could get away with playing with them in a mysoginistic household). This feeling was confirmed for me when my sisters and I started playing with the Ken dolls as well, because those female-like crotches on the men just made them seem completely impotent and being shorter than the Barbie dolls made them seem powerless, not to mention useless (when I was a kid being taller than people was a big deal for me).

Because of all that, my Barbies were always lesbians. The boys just had no interest for them, but they'd date, make out and even simulate sex with each other. Okay, you realize I did all that, but do you realize how empowering it was for me to play with these dolls? Even now I'm kind of shocked when I think about it, but a prego Barbie? Nah, that doesn't shock me at all.

Related posts:
How Our Fantasies Help Us
Becoming a Mysterious Lady
Ladies I Subscribe To

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Stacey K said...

Doesn't shock me at all. More than one of my daughter's Barbies had something shoved under their clothes to simulate pregnancy. They tended to breastfeed small dolls too.

DLC said...

Barbie art is awesome, though a little bit tired at this point. Check out the work of Tom Forsythe and my personal favorite, the Barbie Liberation Organization.