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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Barbie -- a Plastic, Fantastic, Ideal Freak


Bild Lilli


Barbie Doll

This girlchild was born as usual
and presented dolls that did pee-pee
and miniature GE stoves and irons
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs.

She was healthy, tested intelligent,
possessed strong arms and back,
abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.
She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.

She was advised to play coy,
exhorted to come on hearty,
exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out
like a fan belt.
So she cut off her nose and her legs
and offered them up.

In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on,
a turned-up putty nose,
dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending.

Amid the controversy, in 1997 Mattel remolded Barbie to give their flagship icon a flatter chest, slimmer hips and a wider waist for a more "realistic" look. But apparently, her previously unrealistic proportions were nothing to do with the change. The intention, according to Mattel, was to give her a more teenage physique so that she could wear the fashions of the time and that fashion was dictating the change.

In 1999, the year Barbie celebrated her 40th birthday, it seemed Mattel was at last trying to address some of the criticism by becoming involved with a project called Ambassadors of Dreams which honored accomplished, trail-blazing women and promoted the message that "girls can be anything." Mattel donated around one million dollars to support programs that teach girls about technology, finance, math and science, career planning, and sports.

Middle Eastern countries and Christian groups have at times slammed Barbie, calling her postures shameful and her clothes "filth." In September 2003 Saudi Arabia outlawed the sale of Barbie dolls, saying that she did not conform to the ideals of Islam. The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stated "Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful." In Middle Eastern countries there is an alternative doll called Fulla which is similar to Barbie but is designed to be more acceptable to an Islamic market.

In December 2005 Dr. Agnes Nairn at the University of Bath in England published research suggesting that girls often go through a stage where they hate their Barbie dolls and subject them to a range of punishments, including decapitation and placing the doll in a microwave oven. Dr. Nairn said: "It's as though disavowing Barbie is a rite of passage and a rejection of their past."
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