Monday, December 18, 2017
Opinion

Column: Barbie, my bodacious BFF

Every few years, as she is reviled by yet another crop of new parents casting about for a scapegoat for their daughters' troubling body issues, I feel called on to defend my childhood pal Barbie.

"I know," they say, "let's blame the 11-inch-tall plastic girl!" As if she is any more responsible for the way she looks than humans are.

Of one thing I am certain: It is the parents, not the kids, who take Barbie so harshly to task. The children know that no matter what she looks like, Barbie is a great friend, always game, and utterly trustworthy with secrets. Go ahead, strip her naked, tie her to mom's hairbrush and cast her into the waves to swim with sharks. She'll come up smiling and never breathe a word to anyone about your sordid plots and evil fantasies.

But many adults don't see the loyal friend. They are blinded by her oversized chest and undersized waist. And they hate her for them. That's bullying, isn't it? Judging her solely on her looks? Condemning her for her deformities?

About that chest and waist: Kids don't care about Barbie's proportions; they just appreciate that she's older than they are and can therefore take greater risks and have wilder adventures. They don't aspire to grow up to look like her any more than they aspire to look like their plush unicorns or troll dolls.

The current round of Barbie-bashing began after artist Nickolay Lamm reimagined Barbie shaped like an "average" girl, meaning shorter, thicker, more boring.

Photos of that doll standing next to Barbie were smeared across Facebook, accompanied by the expected anti-Barbie vitriol.

People I'd previously thought of as compassionate and fair were suddenly weighing in with unbridled Barbie barbs. Some stated proudly that they'd always hated her. Others quoted poisonous statistics about the impossibility of survival for someone shaped like her, her inability to walk on those feet created for high heels, the lack of room in her abdomen for internal organs, the extra vertebra it would require to create her peculiar neck, and the difficulty that neck would have supporting her head.

And now, the anti-Barbie crowd is crowing over her reduced circumstances, rejoicing over news of her plunging sales.

But who among us has not had a bad year or three? Or felt the pinch of these crappy economic times?

This is not the first downturn in Barbie's 54-year career, and I'm willing to bet that just as she did decades ago while strapped to her hairbrush raft, Barbie will bob to the surface, cheerfully unscathed and harboring no ill will toward anyone.

Amy Goldman Koss' latest novel for teens is "The Not-So-Great Depression."

© 2013 Los Angeles Times

Comments
Editorial: Steaks, planes and campaign cash reveal Corcoran’s hypocrisy

Editorial: Steaks, planes and campaign cash reveal Corcoran’s hypocrisy

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran lives the high life. He’s raising big money for the state Republican Party and his political committee, and the cash is being spent on junkets to Napa Valley, charter planes and steak dinners. Lots of steak dinn...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Editorial: Modest improvements to unneeded tax cut package

Editorial: Modest improvements to unneeded tax cut package

The massive tax cut legislation Congress is poised to start voting on today remains terrible public policy. It raises the federal debt by more than $1.4 trillion over the next decade, and it primarily benefits businesses and the wealthy over the poor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

The annual Editorial Cartoon Round-Up is a thought-provoking recap of a momentous 2017. The gallery containing 32 cartoons from some of the best editorial cartoonists in the country is made available by the Washington Post News Service & Syndicat...
Published: 12/18/17

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17