Barbie Returns to her Roots with "Imagine the Possibilities" Campaign

The following post was sponsored by Barbie and her new campaign: you can be anything, which recognizes Barbie as the thing I have always perceived her to be: a doll who can do whatever it is the person playing with her has decided she can do AKA anything. 
I was first introduced to Barbie by way of a giant basket of dolls and horses my Nana kept in her closet.

The Barbies dated back to the early 60s and belonged to my mother and aunt when they were little girls. Barbie's clothes and glasses and business suits reflected the times, while all at once challenging them. Barbie was FIERCE. And INDEPENDENT and, yes, she had a kick-ass wardrobe. She was also career oriented, which in the 60s, was somewhat of a marvel. (My mom remembers dressing her Barbie in a business suit or flight attendant uniform for her day job and then in a black  gown for her night-time gig as a singer/entertainer.  She was "modern," and could do it all as an independent single woman.)

As children, my cousins and I played Barbies for hours, recreating worlds different from our mothers' worlds but just as imaginary -- sometimes Barbie flew. Sometimes she had dinner parties. Sometimes she was Queen of the world, President of the United States, teacher, veterinarian, big sister, mom...
For me, Barbie contributed to my awakening as a storyteller. She helped me come out of my shell and play with others when I felt too shy to play make-believe with my own person. With Barbie and other dolls I created worlds and businesses, families and friendships,  and never once felt the pressure to look like her. That I know of. That I know of. 

Therein lies the rub, right? Did she influence me without my even realizing it? I have never felt that was the case -- not for me. And yet...

Barbie's waist is not human. Neither is the symmetry of her face, her hair, the curves in her feet, but I never saw her as anything but a doll that I loved. And so she has always been welcome in my home.
If there was anything about Barbie that troubled me personally, it was the way she has over the years been marketed, sold and perceived as a pink-washed, bleached-out, brainless bore who aspired to own a dream house and a pink corvette. And a small dog to carry in a thingy.

It is the SELLING of THAT lifestyle, I have found to be problematic and frustrating. How could it be that Barbie, who began as a feminist icon, could over her 56 year history evolve into... the opposite?
When I played with Barbie, my imagination made her fierce and fearless, unafraid to say the things I couldn't say...  I see the same with my kids when they play with Barbie dolls. They are superheroes who rule the world and ride unicorns... they are fierce and loud, loving and likable... they are villains and heroes and all of the above... and most notably, independent, without the need for a "Prince Charming" to rescue them from their make-believe world.

... Which is why I agreed to partner with Barbie on this post, to help them raise awareness of their brand new and MUCH IMPROVED campaign which returns to the roots of Barbie as an independent working woman and imagination station.

Behold their new campaign, which launched last week:

THIS IS GOOD. This is a move in the right direction. THIS reminds me of why I first fell in love with Barbie as a child -- why I spent years with her and dozens of dolls in her community, creating scenarios and acting out stories in my head with my siblings, cousins and self...

Is this a marketing ploy? Hell yeah it is. But I support this message. And If you're going to market something to my kids, let this be it. With more campaigns like this that sell IMAGINATION, INDEPENDENCE and ARCHEOLOGY, we all win.

Now, to work on Barbie's measurements being a little more... you know, MORE.


I hope you will contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment below. What do you think of this new campaign/Barbie's new direction? Do you believe Barbies are responsible for body issues in girls? If Barbie looked differently, would you let your child play with her? Do you think it's potentially harmful to keep your child away from playing with something because of the way it looks? Is Barbie a feminist? 


My hope is that with this campaign, as well as others like it, we can create a dialogue as parents, voice our concerns and celebrate a more positive direction for toys and our children... Looking forward to your thoughts, as always, and thanks to Barbie for being open to criticism and transparency.