Last week, there were two important days that we celebrated. Coincidentally, they came right after each other.
On March 8th, we celebrated International Woman's Day, which is the anniversary of when women gained the right to vote in Russia. It is a way of fighting sexism and promoting women and girls. On March 9th, we celebrated Barbie's birthday, or rather the day Barbie dolls were launched. This year was particularly special because it was Barbie's 60th anniversary.
You might wonder what these two have to do with each other. Especially considering Barbie has been criticized for not being a feminist role model. The reason? She's too skinny, is obsessed with fashion, and always has Ken.
Well, as a lifelong fan of all things Barbie, I'm here to tell you that those reasons are bullshit and that Barbie is a perfectly amazing feminist role model.
First of all, the complaints about her body or interests are bullshit. Someone's appearance or passions shouldn't be used as a reason to make them a feminist. Also, Barbie has introduced dolls of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities in recent years, so they should be applauded for making a change for the future, not criticized for their past.
While Barbie is known for her clothing choices, and they are quite amazing, that's not her main selling point. Barbie has had many different career choices, from athlete to pop star, to a scientist. She can be served as an avatar for young girls to inspire people. In fact, Barbie runs a campaign encouraging girls to pursue their dream. Prior to Barbie's existence, the most popular dolls were baby dolls. Girls now had a doll that was older than them and had a career that they could aspire to be. The variety also meant that different types of girls could find at least one doll they were interested in. There are also special edition dolls of feminist figures like Misty Copeland, Ashley Graham, and Zendaya.
Barbie's main focus has always been her career, not Ken. Ken is a separate entity from her. They aren't a package deal, and when they are, Ken is not the main attraction. His role is to be a supporter of her, especially when a character of him appears in the film series.
Speaking of the Barbie film series, it is an amazing example of feminist films as well. With each film, the viewer gets a strong and dynamic female character as the lead, several interesting supporting female characters, male characters who are very supportive towards the women, and a racially diverse film. Not every film features a love story, and if they do, it usually isn't a major focal point. People give so much praise to recent Disney films for not featuring a love story and diversity, when Barbie has been doing this since 2009, with Barbie & The Three Musketeers.
Barbie is a feminist icon. Give her some respect.