The news that Mattel have released a range of diverse Barbies that includes three new body types; tall, petite and curvy, has been quite a revelation for me. As an ex-little girl, and now a mummy of one who’s about to turn five, Barbie’s had – and continues to have – a not insignificant role in my life. Back then I didn’t fall for the perfect beauty ideal: my Barbie was a punk with green spiky hair and piercings. She drove an Action Man tank as opposed to the all-too-obvious lipstick red Ferrari, and she designed and made her own clothes, making her way cooler than her identikit long blonde haired preppy peers. I even remember scribbling pubes and armpit hair on her in black biro when I got to the curious stage (Oh hai, Ken). Whichever way I could subvert the standard, I did, and looking back, I’m proud of my early feminist ways. Femiwhat?
But she was so god damned tall, and there was nothing I could change about that. At 5”2¾, I can only dream of possessing pins like Barbie’s, and my life is filled with all manner of #ShortGirlProblems – the struggle is real. But I’m not sure I would have wanted my Barbie to be any less tall, just like I wouldn’t have wanted my Lego men to have more realistic hair dos – she was what she was and I accepted that. The thing about Not Being Represented, though, is it’s oppressive, and subliminal, and dangerously subtle, especially in young, malleable minds. Now I’m officially one of those body types that America has deemed under-represented (*waves*), I can look back and think actually, I did spend my youth imagining myself picking up that Oscar, or selling a million albums, or being a world-renowned fashion designer, only tall.
Dear old Barbie can’t be blamed for all of it, of course, and she’s really sorry she’s been such an elitist bitch over the last couple of decades but I still love her. There is a little birthday coming up for someone who’ll probably scale the dizzying heights of 5’3” when she grows up – 5’4” if she’s really lucky – and I know which Barbie I’ll be buying her.
Life in plastic, it’s fantastic. Now, now it is.