The news: Barbie, the iconic toy of generations has been redesigned with head-turning makeovers of color and body shape.
Ok, let me start off with a white flag and state that I deeply respect women. I am not a misogynist, male chauvinist, or any other adjective that might be thrown at me. I understand the different ethnic changes that Mattel introduced and applaud it! After all we are in a world which is becoming a mix with changing sociological factors. I also understand that they want to re-invigorate slumping sales, especially after seeing a 15% per quarter drop for over two years, because 56 years of success just isn’t enough!
So what’s my problem?
I don’t want to buy a “big boned”, “full figured”, “slightly pouty stomached”, Blue-haired Barbie! Call me dated or old-fashioned. Call me out of touch and insensitive. I just don’t get it! So we need to be told that the dolls that our kids play with have to be more related to the real world, right? Anything else would damage young impressionable minds. This is a plastic toy, people! Is it causing girls to become bulimic or anorexic? Hey, it’s called a toy for a reason. I played with G.I. Joes and never felt emasculated, a desire to wear fatigues, and never had a beard. Why does everything have to be boiled down to politically correct psychological issues? Let’s look at some other dolls that Mattel should consider, if we want to really have toys that reflect society:
In a recent study 35.7% of the people in the USA are considered obese. I can beat that! According to the American Psychological Society 40-50% of American couples divorce. Surely a Divorce Barbie would make sense. We could have Ken come with a suitcase and coupons for Pizza delivery. While on the topic of Ken, how do we get those 6 pack abs? Ahhhh… now we are on to something. Let’s redesign the male models to accurately reflect society.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of any circumstance where I would be motivated to buy anything that is reflective of where society actually is. We have all heard the old saying of sex sells. How many people are actually walking into a room with wind blowing in their hair in the middle of the day and having every person of the opposite sex visually devour them with their eyes? How many people are driving that car on a mountain road alone (how’s those traffic jams working for you)? How many people are hanging out with their beautiful friends (all cool and hip) drinking the same soft drink? Let’s face it…it’s just not reality. The fact of the matter is that we all have self-images implanted in our minds, and some stuff just doesn’t make sense. I want what can be…not what is:
Heck, let’s not stop at Barbie, let’s redesign every character from our childhood. Why is Cinderella more beautiful, young, and skinny than her step-sisters? She gets Prince Charming and a castle. Prince Charming…a castle? That’s not really reflective of the guy who works 18 hour days and accumulates wealth does it?
Ok, I think I got it out of my system.
Sometimes, I think the world is moving so fast. We have as anchors the things we know. I don’t want some things to change, even though I know they will. So, as a Business Consultant and advisor, do I think the changes will help Mattel? I am sure some believe it will. Personally, I think “Divorce Barbie” would have more mileage.