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It’s women’s empowerment month, it’s been 60 years since Barbie came into the world, and I have something to say. It’s been a wild ride for my relationship with Barbie, however, for my girl’s 60th birthday I’m here to try and redeem her good name. Yes, she’s a problematic fave but newsflash all of your faves are problematic. Hate to break it to you. I’m the first one on the bandwagon of not imposing unrealistic and patriarchal expectations on young girls, but where Barbie failed previously- it’s really surprising to some people the way that she’s really become an empowering icon for little girls in recent years. Here are five reasons that I’m here to stand up for Barbie.


1. There is nothing she can’t do

She’s been a doctor, an astronaut, a DJ, a robotic engineer, a beekeeper and that’s only from the first page of the Mattel website. There are no glass ceilings for Barbie. The first, and most important, thing that Barbie has been teaching little girls is that you can be anything you want to be. Barbie has had every career under the sun, and then some. She’s really out here showing all of us that if you can dream it, you can be it.


2. The Barbie Vlogs? Honestly really empowering.

I don’t know if you’ve been enlightened by the official Barbie YouTube channel yet, but if you haven’t please go check out the Barbie vlogs. Some are silly and following various viral trends, but others show Barbie opening up about how it’s okay to be sad sometimes, they show her talking about female empowerment, or standing up to bullies. And as much as I love seeing this kind of stuff, I love knowing that it’s out there for little kids even more. This kind of vlogger culture is really accessible to kids these days, and it’s really great for me to know that there’s content with the iconic face of Barbie on it teaching little kids about how it’s okay to not be okay, or how you shouldn’t be afraid to be you.


4. Barbie doesn’t just have one look anymore

We’re seeing more and more launches from Barbie that aren’t just the “beauty-standard” fitting blonde and skinny classic girl we’ve all come to associate with the brand. With the rebrand of the Barbie family, we’re now seeing a diverse array of dolls of varied races, shapes and sizes. One of Barbie’s greatest shortcomings was its tunnel visioned view of beauty, now each doll provides so much more representation and less pressure of what a woman “should” look like, instead showing little kids how beautiful everyone can be. (Yeah that was cheesy, I know.)


4. I had fun playing with Barbies!

As far as things I actively remember from being a smaller child, one thing that really stands out is how much I loved my Barbies. They’re just fun to play with! Obviously it’s a matter of preference for everyone, but playing with Barbies was a fun thing that I could do for hours. It helped me, and I’m sure kids everywhere, channel my imagination and come up with fun stories, it was just a lot of fun to do and it was a really great part of growing up for me. Also those Barbie movies are all SO GOOD. (My favorite is Princess and the Pauper, and I would love to hear yours.)


5. Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse SLAPS (please go watch, it’s on Netflix)

This show is so funny and I love it. That’s it.


I think a lot of the concerns people have about the Barbie brand are really valid. But I also think that there have been a lot of strides in recent years to fix that image, and make it a more inclusive brand for all kids. I think Barbie is doing a lot to teach kids meaningful lessons, be a creative outlet, and even be an empowering female role model.


Katie Semack

Wisconsin '21

Katie grew up in New York City and is a senior at University of Wisconsin- Madison studying Political Science and Communications. Her favorite pastimes include doing yoga, watching Golden Girls with her puppy, Gatsby, and empowering other women. 
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