I was just listening to MSNBC out of corner of my ear, and I heard that there is some sort of Barbie controversy brewing. Apparently, people are upset that Barbie suddenly has tattoos.
To which I responded:
“Wait, this has happened already. What the hell?”
My mom: “No it hasn’t.”
Me (increasingly insistent): “Yes, it has. In 1999. Butterfly Tattoo Barbie.”
My mom: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Me: “I have one. You got it for me. I took it to the beach for my ninth birthday.”
My mom: “I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten you that.”
Me: “Yes you did. You clipped an article out of the paper for me about the controversy after you bought the doll and told me to save it because the doll would be valuable someday.”
My mom: ” Nah.”
As evidence, I procured my Butterfly Art Barbie (I have since learned that this is the official name) from the naked
shoebox orgy in my closet where she currently resides with her other Mattel brethren and politely thrust her and her butterfly belly tat in my mother’s face.
“Are you sure it wasn’t a gift?”
“Yes. I really really wanted one. Everybody did.”
My parents bought me the Butterfly Art Barbie, which, may I point out, was sold with temporary tattoos, so that you can “have fun decorating Barbie and you with cool washable decorations!” We snapped one up right after they were released in 1998, before a panicky Mattel pulled them off shelves faster than you can say “lead-lined toys from China.”
Oh, how short the memory of the 24-hour news channels!
I named the Barbie Jess (I named all my Barbies – if I’d called them all Barbie it would have been too confusing for them) and took her with me to the beach on my ninth birthday. I wanted to emulate her, sure. I thought she was great, with her plastic feet and alluring beach-hobo lifestyle. And yet I am devoid of tattoos? How is this possible?
The truth of the matter is that Jess the Butterfly Art Barbie did not make me want a tattoo, she made me desperately want crinkly hair, a style which is
a) hard for my hair to achieve, and
b) looks awful on me.
But I kept trying for years.
Anyway, people need to calm down. If your child is looking to Barbie as her primary role model, maybe you should let
her read, or watch television, or leave the house. In a world in which Michelle Obama is the First Lady, Sandra Day O’Connor is appearing on talk shows, and Tina Fey exists, are girls today hard up for flesh-and-blood role models? Oh, and how about you? The kid’s mom?
Also, why are we suddenly more concerned about young girls in this country getting tattoos than about young girls in this country becoming anorexic? I think we need to worry a little more about Barbie’s impact on body image than Barbie’s impact on images on the body.