The other day while meandering about WalMart, I came across the Barbie aisle.
As I walked through, I saw a ballerina Barbie, a babysitter Barbie and a variety of “Fashonista” Barbies.
While apparently it does exist, I did not once see the new computer programmer doll aimed to promote non-traditional careers for women.
My Barbie obsession (the second wave of it since my childhood) was sparked by a commercial I saw while watching my new favorite TV show, Sarah Palin’s Alaska.
The commercial features real-life women pursuing their dreams in different ways. One woman in the ad is a pilot, another a dance teacher and a third a painter.
Screen shots flash back to a little girl saying, “When I grow up, I can…”
It’s pretty inspirational, and I liked the idea a lot. I got on the computer and did a little research about this new campaign Mattel, Barbie’s parent company, is pushing.
The line is all about dressing Barbie in outfits for careers like “Sign Language Teacher” (2001), “Paratrooper” (2000) and the most recent “Computer Programmer” from earlier this year.
Mattel actually set up a poll on the Barbie Facebook page for fans to vote on the next career for their famous doll.
While it is great to see Barbie in a career outside of fashion or childcare, it would be even better to actually see that Barbie on store shelves.
In order for the doll to mean something, it has to make it to its target audience: girls 10 and younger.
Barbie’s leap into the tech world, however, still does not outdo her history of unrealistic body image and stereotype promotion.
A little more background research on Barbie brings light to several controversies since her creation in 1959.
In 1997, Mattel changed Barbie’s waist size to make it more realistic to an actual person.
One Barbie, released in 1963, came with a book called How to Lose Weight which gave the advice “Don’t eat.”
The “Teen Talk Barbie” released in 1992 spoke phrases like “I love shopping,” and “Will we ever have enough clothes?”
I get that part of the fun behind Barbie is to play dress up and house. That’s what I did when I was little (besides cut their hair off).
But seriously, the other part of playing is to encourage creativity and imagination.
Eat, sleep, shop, do makeup and repeat is not inspiring anything productive.
It’s important to influence girls in a positive way when they’re little so they can be leaders later in life.
Hopefully, “Computer Programmer” Barbie can do that.
She just needs to be on store shelves first.