Join me here in astonishment! I am about to defend the Barbie doll. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to do so. But flexibility keeps us young; we need agile limbs and limber attitudes to handle those hard inflexible bumps in the road of life — like Barbie’s boobs.
My mother wouldn’t have Barbie in the house when I was a child. She claimed (long before it was trendy and assertively pro-actively feminist to do so) that those big Barbie breasts were inappropriate for children to play with. Good for her! I say now. At the time, though, I mourned rather bitterly. Not just for the sexy doll all my friends had, but for those boobs. I suspected, somehow, that I would never have those, either. My mother knew that, too – the O’Brien women don’t hope for chests (the gene pool is generous but not generally decorative).
The new Mexico Barbie from Mattel’s Collector Dolls of the World series is inspiring protest even before she and her plastic Chihuahua strip off the shrink wrap. This Barbie is attired in a bright beribboned Cinco de Mayo dress, which critics say is a culturally demeaning stereotype. I don’t imagine the Chihuahua helps. And there’s outraged griping about the fact that Mexico Barbie has been issued a passport.
All the World Barbies come with pink passports “to add play value.” The folks at Mattel were not discriminating against undocumented Hispanics by providing Barbie with papers. I am as bleeding-heart liberal as they come, but believe there are bigger equality bones to pick than this one. Barbie dolls have ALWAYS been racist and sexist and stupid. You don’t believe in Barbie? Don’t buy one. Don’t believe in abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t believe in gay marriage? Don’t enter into one.
Ireland Barbie has a pink passport, too. She has bright red hair and a schlocky green dress and leprechaun shoes, and is accompanied by an Irish Setter puppy. Her carton claims she is “fashioned like the luck of the Irish.” All the O’Barbie needs is green beer and a brogue. She, too, is a ridiculous stereotype, but I have bigger fish to fry (in deep fat, with lots of crisp breading, served with some sort of rich heavy tarter sauce and a nice IPA).
After a winter spent fighting the elements for survival (life is brutal and harsh here in the urban southwest), it’s my belly rather than my boobs that proudly precedes me into the room. Heavy rich carbohydrates and fortifying bottles of wine got me through those cold dark days. Now, the days will get hot.
I am not hot. I am brooding about Barbies and bellies and the toll twenty pounds take on the body of one’s self-esteem. Physical beauty was a hot topic in this week’s news (at least the news I could bear to read): one woman was fired for being judged too physically attractive, and another for no longer being physically attractive enough.
It all comes back to boobs.
Breastaurants (yes, that’s a real word; we live in depraved linguistic times) hire real-life Barbies as waitresses. We’ll get the Hooters Barbie next; she’ll come with a tray of hot dogs instead of a puppy. Perhaps Mattel will throw in an extra wig in case Hooters Barbie has to have emergency brain surgery and needs to return to work before her hair grows back in, like former waitress Sandra Lupo.
Lupo contends in a lawsuit that when she had physically recovered enough to return to work, she was unable to wear a wig without pain. Her hours were then reduced so much that she was forced to quit.
From what I read, neither Lupo’s hooters nor her waitressing skills were adversely affected by the brain surgery. While the Hooters experience is all about the food (as Playboy magazine is all about the articles), this woman’s ability to serve up generous portions of herself with a side of fries did not suffer. Hooters patrons are not trying to ogle her head; the buzz cut and scar might actually add a little extra frisson to her physical allure. With a few fake tattoos she’d have that dangerous bad-girl thing going for her; men wouldn’t care about Barbie hair.
It all comes back to boobs.
Melissa Nelson’s bosom got her fired from her 10-year job as a dental assistant. Her boss, James Knight, DDS, found her too attractive. The all-male Iowa Supreme Court upheld the decision of a lower court that Knight was within his legal rights when he fired Nelson. Said the court, “she was terminated because of concerns her behavior was not appropriate in the workplace. She’s an attractive lady. Dr. Knight found her behavior and dress to be inappropriate.”
What I find inappropriate is this statement from that court: “Dr. Knight acknowledges he once told Nelson that if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing.”
Nelson is the happily-married mother of two. She does not look or dress like a Hooters waitress; neither does she sport a burka. Her bulges are not a physical response to the charms of a boob like Dr. Knight. Nelson said that she had long considered him a Father Figure, a shriveling observation that doubtless took the starch and the bulges right out of Dr. Knight’s shorts.
What the world needs are Tammy dolls; my mother was right to give me one. Tammy was no substitute for a Barbie – she wore a demure playsuit instead of a bathing suit, she had big feet and short bangs, and she didn’t need a bra. She was therefore a wallflower, but a real doll just the same.
Now, we just need a Middle-Aged Overweight Hot-but-from-Hot-Flashes Barbie. She’ll have gray roots and be wearing a sweat suit, and will carry a stack of self-help books and a bottle of Scotch.