Saturday, December 5, 2015


Since 1959, Barbie has shaped girls' ideas about life, love, and looks. Now Mattel's latest new doll, "Barbie Hello," actually chats with her owner.

With a microphone in her necklace, batteries in her thighs, a USB port in her back, Barbie answers questions and records the girls' replies.

Over the years, Barbie's been a model, astronaut, paleontologist, Air Force jet pilot, surgeon, NASCAR driver, a rap artist; a singer at the Grand Ole Opry, a WNBA basketball player, and also run  for president three times.

She's a fabulous female that young females love and emulate -- neat, slender-perfect figure with a very small waist and long perfect legs, and on her pink perfect lips a confident, self-satisfied smile.

Nevertheless, Pulitzer-prize winning novelist, Carol Shields said that Barbie’s expression, with “its dumb shine of self-absorption, its trippingly tartish look of one who is out for all she can get, is eerily disturbing.” Also, Barbie being a blonde, white doll person has been criticized. Though Mattel created a Black Barbie, also a Hispanic Barbie, using the molds for White Barbie, Ann Ducille, professor of American and African-American literature at the University of California, contends that “white Barbie dolls are the norm," and quotes a black mother who said that although her daughter played with Black Barbie, she asked for the "real Barbie."

The fact is, real Barbie's responsible for eating disorders. The doll is 11.5 inches, which, at a 1/6 scale, would make her 5 feet 9 inches tall. Her vital statistics have been estimated at bust, 36 inches, waist 18 inches,  and hips, 33 inches. Furthermore, 1965's Barbie came with a book titled "How To Lose Weight," with a chapter titled "Don't Eat," that inspired a major hospital in Finland to say that Barbie lacks the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. Mattel explained it away, saying that Barbie is a model, and a movie star -- they have to keep their weight 10 to 20 pounds below what's "normal," because the high fashion outfits they wear invariably add bulk to one's figure.

Yes, Barbie has tons of high fashion clothes, as well as haut couture outfits for Theatre Date, Movie Date, Party Date, Friday Night Date, Sorority Meeting, plus outfits for Tennis Anyone, Ski Queen, Icebreaker, and outings with her boyfriend Ken. He's been her sweetheart for 43 years. In a press release, Mattel announced that they had "grown apart and needed some time alone, but they would remain friends.” Mattel has also publicized a Wife version of the doll, which hasn't appeared yet -- perhaps Ken will be reestablished, or maybe Barbie will be living with her boyfriend.

Meanwhile, "Barbie Hello" now records and transmits her chats.

ToyTalk, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence firm, using voice recognition technology, advises Barbie on how she should respond to questions users ask, and stores these conversations in the cloud, where they can be studied, and used for newer Barbies and other toys.

By now, most of us are accustomed to Google and Facebook mining our private messages, family photos, and Internet histories, but sooner or later NSA, FBI and other agencies will have access to all that personal data, and there will be hackers.

Okay, I've always been somewhat uncomfortable with the Barbie doll being what girls want, seek, and stand for, but now that she's chatting with girls like a sister, friend, aunt, or parent -- I am very uncomfortable.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, and blog pals, here's some logical, sensible, loud advice -- DON'T BUY IT.


Carola said...

I've always been uncomfortable with the Barbie dolls (they came along too late for me, but my husband's nieces required them). What I especially hated was the 36 part of the 36x18x33

Adriano Bulla said...

I agree; I always found Barbie to represent an artificial ideal of 'beauty' imposed on women at a very young age. I also always found her incredibly insipid, personally.