Image by: Tracheotomy Bob
By Josie Alexander
There’s going to be a new Barbie doll on the shelves. She’s going to be sporting a pink fitted dress, has a handful of accessories (tablet, purse, smartphone, etc.), high heel shoes, and classy updo. Yup, she’s Entrepreneur Barbie.
I recently read a review about it, “commenting” about her attire and young age and about the fact that she doesn’t look like an actual female entrepreneur. Let’s delve into this a bit further.
#1) It’s A Doll
While it’s true that not all female entrepreneurs look the same, Barbie has a general appearance. No matter what the Barbie is (doctor, Malibu, scuba diver, artist, or a member of the military) she always appears to be the same ambiguous age. She always has the same figure (the figure that has been criticized for years). She has always had that silly princess smile. So why change that for Entrepreneur Barbie?
It is true that we are not all one type. We don’t all look like Barbie and female entrepreneurs don’t always look like “Entrepreneur Barbie”. However, Mattel is trying to portray strong, confident women (including women of color – as there are four variations of this particular doll).
#2) Encouraging Young Women
While some of the media may focus on her appearance (she is thin and disproportionate), others may focus on the more positive attributes of these toys. When Barbie came out in the late 1950’s, she was strictly a fashion model. However since then, she has portrayed over 125 different careers. That is such a great inspiration for young women.
True, it’s not GoldieBlox (a company which encourages girls to use their brains and create things). What it does do, though, is encourage young women to use their imaginations. This can help them dream about what their future might be like.
“Which Barbie do you want to be when you grow up?” doesn’t mean “You need to look just like her.” Instead, you can use your imagination and picture yourself in her shoes as a doctor, a teacher, a paratrooper, a fire fighter, a pilot, Wonderwoman, and (yes) now she can be a fashion savvy entrepreneur.
Girls can have her go to work and then come home to families because they have that type of imagination. No, Entrepreneur Barbie does not come with a home (you have to buy that separately) but she also doesn’t come with an office. So Mattel isn’t trying to say that she’s going to stay at the office all day either. Girls can imagine her to be what they want her to be.
#3) The Need To Sell This To Kids
Remember that while some people may be searching for a “realistic” Entrepreneur Barbie, Mattel still needs to be able to sell this product.
Female entrepreneurs are strong and dedicated. We try to balance our lives, both home and work. We are supermoms. We are independent women. I believe this is the image that Mattel was trying to portray when they came out with this product at the last Toy Fair.
However, we are also tired. Sometimes, we just yearn for a day off. We are often seen with a coffee cup in one hand and a pen in the other. Sometimes we have bags under our eyes because we are so tired. Sometimes we have bruises on our foreheads from banging our heads on our desks. Would this image sell to young girls? Would this image inspire young women to become entrepreneurs in the future?
If she were to be “realistic” Barbie, she would have accessories like piles of paper on her desk and an overflowing inbox. However, those accessories won’t sell in a market targeting young girls that need a positive role model.
I like to give young women the benefit of the doubt – that they will realize, as they grow up, that real life isn’t like Barbie’s life. But for now they can dream and we can leave the preparation for real life expectations to their parents.