I’m freaking out I don’t usually reblog this stuff but this is like incredible
Friendly reminder, too, that when Barbie was first created it was because a mother looked in the toy aisle, saw nothing but babydolls, and went “isn’t there a game with dolls little girls can play that isn’t pretending to be a mother?”
Barbie was literally created to say that being a mother is great and all, and you can do that, but there are so many other things you can do too. That has been her slogan and motto since 1959. In that time she’s been a teacher, a vet, an Olympic athlete, an astronaut, a lifeguard, a mom, and so many many many other things. The Barbie’s Friend Christie doll—the first black doll in the Barbie family—came out in 1968, only four years after schools were integrated and nine years after Barbie began, and a black-colored Barbie came out in 1980 (made from the same molds as Caucasian Barbie, she was replaced in 2009 with the So Stylin’ line and a new mold with traditionally-black features). In 1997, a Barbie family doll named Becky became, to my knowledge, the first doll ever to be produced in a wheelchair. When a high-school student wrote to Mattel and went “this is great and all, but Becky’s wheelchair doesn’t fit into the Dream House elevator,” here was Mattel’s response: “You’re right. We’ll redesign the elevator.” No fuss. No mess. New elevator. Barbie is more inclusive than some schools.
If none of that gets you excited as shit, you are looking at all the wrong things on a Barbie doll.
Seriously. Just as the boys had their action figures, I had mine. Depending on my mood, my Barbie doll was a scholar, a sorceress, a ninja, a swashbuckler, a cave-spelunking explorer, or a world-saving action hero. In my hands, she was never afraid of the dark, never cowed by opposition, and never shied away from a challenge. She wasn’t the damsel in distress, she was the rescuer. Though the boy’s toys came with weapons and tools and other things I thought were cool and Barbie didn’t, that didn’t stop me from improvising or crafting those things for her. A pencil could become a staff or spear and yarn became rope. I crafted a library’s worth of doll-sized books and fitted paratrooper Barbie with a parachute. (I had better luck with the paratrooper ponies, however.) Sure, she could ride a horse across the countryside and that was awesome, but she could also ride a (stuffed) bear. Whatever I could think up was possible.
It didn’t occur to me until much later that I might be playing with my doll “wrong” or that there were certain attitudes associated with her. It didn’t even matter that she didn’t look like me. Boys certainly don’t look like the Ninja Turtles or He-Man, but they still have fun playing with them.