In defence of Barbie

Unlike you and me, when Barbie finds herself in the wrong outfit, she lacks the agency to go home and change. So I felt for her when leopard-skin pants, a pink bob and tattoos creeping up the neck – the look of the limited-edition Tokidoki Barbie – led to global pearl-clutching in newspapers and online. Holly Lebowitz Rossi, a writer for, called the doll “overly sexualized and inappropriate.” An anonymous poster on Ms. Twixt griped, “Mattel, why not put a cigarette and a beer bottle in her hand while you’re at it!” (You can actually make those yourself with a lollipop stick and a gummy-candy pop bottle, as I recall.)

This new Barbie, however, isn’t actually out of line with Barbie’s many shifts since her debut more than 50 years ago. Barbie has always been impossibly proportioned and anatomically freakish, but, other than that, she’s not a fixed entity. She has had hundreds of incarnations, often clearly pointing to where women are at in the culture.

Read the full story in the Globe and Mail.


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