An Instagram post depicting 2 Barbies in matching t-shirts was released last week in support of gay marriage. The t-shirts have the slogan 'Love Wins' on them. This move by Mattel shows how they have tried to diversify the Barbie range and has nothing to do with a saturated market, and the need to flog more dolls but follows on from the 'Sheroe's range which celebrates 'female heroes who break boundaries'. This range includes, what has been dubbed 'Hijabi Barbie', to honour Ibtihaj Muhammad, an American fencer who competed in last year's Olympics and is basically a Barbie with a headscarf.
In 2016, Mattel also released a new range of Barbies with different hair, body and face types to 'promote a healthy body and enable girls to find a doll that speaks to them'. Expanding the Barbie range from the old stereotypical white, western, master-race Barbie we all know and, well, I wouldn't exactly say, love (dolls were never my thing) has to be welcomed, I suppose...well, at least they're trying...
But the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced there's a lot of potential to broaden the range even more and truly represent the social and political diversity of the female experience in today's globalized world. So, here's a few suggestions of mine, just in case there are females out there who feel there isn't a Barbie that speaks to them and reflects their experience...
Sweat-shop Barbie - she has an extra large bladder so she doesn't need toilet breaks and 2 Duracell batteries so she can work longer. She also has a family but they aren't included as they live miles away and are being cared for by an elderly relative.
Trafficked Barbie - comes dressed as a dancer and has a contract that binds her to a pimp in financial slavery for 20 years. He also has her money and passport, and an endless supply of drugs.
Thai Bride Barbie - comes with a man old enough to be her father/grandfather. Not available to buy in store, only available to order online.
Saudi Barbie - comes dressed all in black. She doesn't have any accessories as everything she owns belongs to her husband but she does come with a male guardian in case she wants to go out.
Illegal immigrant Barbie - comes with a guaranteed low-waged cleaning/child minding job for a wealthy family and no legal rights.
Narcissistic personality disorder Barbie - comes with a mirror, an I-Phone and a selfie stick so she can sit all day taking photos and posting them to her online 'modelling' site.
C-List Celebrity Barbie - comes with a sex tape she 'accidentally' posted online, a plastic surgery makeover kit, and a guaranteed future appearance on 'I'm a nonentity, get me outta here!'
Sexually-assaulted Celebrity Barbie - comes with designer clothing. Sexually-assaulted Celebrity Barbie has been brought out to replace old Casting-Couch Barbie, whose clothes all fell off when you put a film contract in her purse. Sexually-assaulted Celebrity Barbie comes with a guaranteed week of front page headlines, a middle page spread in the Daily Tabloid tracking her assailant's career implosion in the 'trial by media' and a special guest appearance on Loose Women, with the option of a police interview and a court case.
Sexually-assaulted (not a celebrity) Barbie - comes dressed for a night out. She too has the option of a police interview but no court case. She does however, have a tabloid article blaming rape victims for wearing provocative clothing and the option of an appearance on the Jeremy Kyle show to confront her attacker. Sorry, 'alleged' attacker...
Domestic Violence Barbie - I thought this old anachronism was consigned to the bin of the 1970's but unfortunately figures still put her right up there in the top 10 of crimes committed. Comes with special make-up (to cover up those bruises) and a door to walk into. She used to come with the phone number of the local women's refuge but it has been closed due to austerity cuts so instead she has the option of a pair of runners in case she needs to make a quick getaway.
Multi-gender Barbie - comes with non-gender specific clothing, retractable hair and a set of detachable breasts so you get to choose the gender - male, female, neither or both.
I was thinking about an FGM'ed Barbie but after checking it out, I think Barbie has already been FGM'ed! I wonder if this a deliberate move by Mattel or were they just ahead of the game on this one.
So, there you have it, a Barbie that reflects the broad experience of females in today's modern world. Available soon...