Barbie gets real at 55
March 2016 This year, Barbie gets real with diversity and more human proportions, but it’s been a painful journey for the world’s favorite doll. Here’s my heart-breaking interview with Barbie when she turned 40.
In 1959, Barbie Millicent Roberts emerged from her bright pink box to become the most popular—and at times controversial—doll in the civilized world.
But this investigative humor columnist has discovered gloom beneath the glamour of Mattel’s money-making miss.
Wearing faded jeans and a T-shirt, Barbie confided, “I’m just so tired of being dolled up all the time. The whole Barbie image is just so plastic.”
In 1967, managers demanded that she undergo plastic surgery for what they called “face sculpting” to create “a new, more youthful look.” In 1997, Barbie was forced to endure reconstructive surgery for breast reduction and hip enlargement to make her measurements more mainstream. Critics had long argued that her 33-inch bust and 16 1/2-inch waist were an anatomical anomaly—part 22-year old and part 2-year-old.
Despite her objections, Mattel’s management has continued to re-invent Barbie. This year tattooed Barbie debuted and, according to secret documents obtained exclusively by this columnist, “Body-piercing Barbie” is planned to celebrate birthday 5-0.
“It’s so degrading,” Barbie confided, “to be viewed simply as a plastic shell. No one cares about who I am inside. Not even Ken!”
The five-decade relationship with Ken has obviously not been satisfying for Barbie. “I’m ready to dump the jerk, hop in my pink Corvette, and drive over to the action figure aisle to find a real man.”
Barbie hasn’t found satisfaction in a career either. “I’ve been a fashion model, teacher, an aerobics instructor, ballerina, medical doctor and over fifty other professions, but I just haven’t found satisfaction in any of these careers. I need to find something to fill the hollowness inside. I’m thinking about changing my name to Sister Mary Barbie.”
Life has not been any easier for Barbie’s siblings who grew up in Willows, Wisconsin. Skipper, who was born in 1964, never attained her older sister’s fame and now works as an aid at a doll hospital. The twins Tutti and Todd, born in 1966, have finally found work as stunt doubles for the Pink and Blue Power Ranger action figures. Meanwhile Stacy, introduced in 1992, joined the Air Force but was dishonorably discharged for allegedly having an affair with G.I. Joe. Meanwhile, four-year-old Kelly has not been seen since entering a “Junior Miss Beauty Pageant.”
“I just want to sell the dream house, buy a condo in Florida and start acting my age.” Although she won’t disclose exactly what that age is, she appeared to be in her early 20’s when she was introduced in 1959. “Let’s just say, I’m way past the ‘Hot Flash Barbie’ stage in life. And you wouldn’t believe the varicose veins you get when you’re two-third legs!”
Mattel, which named Barbie and Ken after founders Ruth and Elliot Handler’s children, refused to be interviewed in this column, but did release the following statement. “No comment.”
Barbie is under contract to Mattel for fifty more years but is hoping to find a way out before the company introduces “Assisted-Living Barbie.”
Copyright © 1999 James N. Watkins
Barbie—and her fans—would do well to follow St. Paul’s advice to spend her time “not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it” (1 Timothy 2 MSG).
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