Thursday, September 11, 2008
When I was a young girl in the 60s you were lucky to get one Barbie doll (or Midge, as in my case). And Barbies then were for "older girls"--not 3 year olds. Whose dad would've bought their daughter a Barbie for her 3rd birthday? No one's. Fast forward to the ever-increasing consumer lifestyles of the 80s. The 80s in Canada really entrenched the idea of buying too much of everything.
Barbara Kruger art
The motto "I Shop, Therefore I am" became cultural currency in the 80s. Many thought it funny -- a defining feature of their personalities -- and bought bumper stickers for their cars, or just threw the expression around like loose change, when if fact it is a pathological sickness of neoliberal capitalism that has resulted in terrible human, social and environmental costs.
Now, when my daughter was a young girl (late 80s) she had oodles of Barbies, despite that my husband and me never bought her any. But despite that we didn't approve of them, Barbies ended up scattered all over the living room floor, upstairs in our daughter's room; they were everywhere. Not only did our daughter receive a number of Barbies each birthday party, her paappa, my dad, used to buy her a Barbie just because. Especially he couldn't resist any Barbie that looked like a Princess, which was his nickname for our daughter. Further, not only did she not have to wait until she was 8 to get a Barbie, she was overloaded with Barbies at a very young age. However, she has only 3 Barbies left of her massive collection as we used to give them away to any young girl who came over. The 3 are forgotten, stuffed into an old pink Mickey Mouse suitcase in the garage.
My daughter, like other girls whose moms and dads didn't control their collection [i.e. these Barbies will never be collector's items as they are not in their original packaging, or original condition, and there are WAY TOO MANY of them, unlike the one-per-girl Barbies of the 60s], couldn't help but cut her Barbie's hair. Often her Barbies got a whole new look.
No only did she like cutting Barbie's hair, she liked trying out the application of make-up on her face. Afterwards, they looked decidedly unprincesslike.
Today Barbie has been branded to death; indeed Barbie is now a "total lifestyle brand...encompassing everything in a girl's world -- from clothing to furniture, cosmetics and electronics" . As part of their Think Pink promotion, Mattel is working hard at promoting "healthy" (Barbie stuff) lifestyles:
Seems the Mattel corp believes in girls. Believing in girls through Barbie candy rings? My daughter just bought this Think Pink junk in Duluth. Original sticker price $3.29, on sale for 25c. What a markup for sugar, corn syrup, artificial colours and artificial flavours and a plastic ring. Packaging and plastic. Made in China for Mattel. I wonder if they believe in the girls working in the factories in China, too?