What little girl (or boy) hasn’t dreamed about their very own Barbie dream house at least once in their life? The iconic blonde was a childhood staple for most children, teaching us life and social skills, and that genitals are nothing but a skin colored bump in the pants (amiright?). As Sara Bir, the author of the “The Barbie Basement”, says in an essay which exposes the sacred theoretical basement to which all girls can relate and a safe haven in which your wildest Barbie plotlines surface, “In the Barbie Basement, we were not friends, but sisters; not girls, but women. We didn’t play; we became. We practiced being adults. Our own lives were innocent and carefree, but our Barbies’ were stressful jet setting lives filled with demands: kids, husbands, jobs, fame and unfathomable wealth”. Barbie gave girls a sense of comfort that a young, beautiful woman can aspire to any career path that a man can. Since Barbie’s debut over 50 years ago, she has tried her hand at over 150 different jobs. I remember shelves being stocked with attractive pink boxes containing flight attendants, lawyers, doctors and teachers. This six-inch piece of plastic allowed you to dream, imagine and have plenty of fashionable outfit changes along the way.
And now the maker of the iconic doll has come out with a brand new job for the doll, which could be her toughest yet.
Not because of its physical or mental challenges, but its social stigma. Mattel has just announced that it will release a Tech Entrepreneur Barbie. In such a male dominated field, it is refreshing to see a company opening young girls’ minds to different career paths. According to a study obtained by the Huffington Post, “43 percent of the 150 largest Silicon Valley companies by sales have no female representation on their board of directors”. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a pretty shocking statistic to me, considering the number of women in the workforce is climbing every single day.
Tech entrepreneur Barbie will also have to face a lot more discrimination than Ken would, as her startup idea includes and Etsy-like online craft store, a concept that would be a lot more difficult in our world since, according to Forbes Magazine, only 3% of venture capital funders are women.
After the recent announcement, the maker of the doll hosted a twitter chat featuring hashtags like #BarbieChat and #Unapologetic to reinforce Barbie’s notion that if you can dream it, you can achieve it. Mattel provided a statement claiming “This year alone, female entrepreneurs have graced the cover of TIME’s “Most Influential People” issue and lead 1-in-5 start-ups”. It went on to say “Alongside Barbie, female entrepreneurs are changing the world, surpassing their goal and showing girls they can be both capable and captivating”.
In her 50+ years of existence, Barbie has faced her fair share of controversy. She has been criticized for having an unachievable body type, being a shallow stereotype, and a bad influence for little girls, but the fact that Barbie is now making headlines for entering into a “male-dominated business” sickens me. Come on people, it’s 2014!