Who knew? Barbie is the Ralph Nader of the toy world! When the announcement came out for the newest “I Can Be…” Barbie in their career series, I was so excited to see President Barbie! Then I realized that this wasn’t the first time that the blond toy has entered politics. In fact, she started her political career two decades ago.
For every little girl who grew up chopping off their Barbie’s hair and for every mom whose currently buying pink corvettes for their children (I fit into both of those categories), it’s always exciting to see Mattel encourage girls to enter traditional “boy toy territory.” I can still remember the excitement when Mattel launched their “Computer Engineer Barbie.” That’s why I’m so surprised that I never knew about these former-Presidential toys.
However, looking back at the beginning of Barbie for President, maybe it’s because the toys weren’t meant to be taken seriously. Let’s face it, no one runs for President in a ball gown. That 1992 version looks less like President Barbie and more like Fourth of July Firecracker Barbie. The high-ponytail, blue eye shadow and red pumps don’t just let you know that she’s from the 90s, they let you know that she was a bit of a joke.
Mattel is obviously attempting to update their newest candidate to better reflect women in politics today, while maintaining their girlish theme of course. But I think that this toy shows that the stature for female politicians has grown up a little. Not only is Barbie in a suit and pearls, she’s wearing wedges that you could actually walk in! And she’s actively campaigning with that button, although I’m not sure using her silhouette is really a great message.
I’m not saying that past female politicians were all show. Obviously, they were extremely hard-working and intelligent women who blazed the way for ladies now. But the culture in our country looked at these women as pretty tokens, like a blonde doll in a poufy dress. We might have had President Barbie in 1992, but we didn’t take her seriously.
In 2012, it’s a completely different story. While we don’t have a female running at the moment, no one would be surprised to see a woman claim the Oval Office. Women everywhere would simply breathe a sigh of relief that we had one more thing to check off our to-do list. Elect a woman as President, thank goodness that’s finally done.
And while that suit probably wouldn’t be bubble-gum pink, switch it to cream and I can imagine a female President wearing it! The ball gown? Not so much.
I’m happy that Mattel keeping running their doll for President. I like knowing that Barbie is politically active. But I’m even more excited that we all agree a female President is plausible and that we expect Mattel to make Barbie look like more than a pretty face. That doll means business. Mitt and Barrack better watch out.