Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Loose Barbies? Lose Sales.

Mattel Inc.,(the maker of my favorite childhood toy--Barbie) announced on Monday that their fourth-quarter profits are down as a result of her slumping sales. Barbie’s sales are down about 11 percent but their American Girls brand had sales that climbed up 12 percent. This is not a new story. Mattel announced the same problem during the first quarter--but it’s been a long time coming. Back in 1997 Mattel announced that Barbie would have a "makeover" to make her measurements more "realistic" (yeah, right--although her chest is decidedly less pronounced, Mattel’s reality is apparently much skinnier than mine) and her grin became less "toothy" and more subdued. I argued then that it looked Prozac-induced. Since the time that the plastic surgeons of politcal-correctness got ahold of her we have also seen Barbie in all kinds of "non-traditional" professions and in all kinds of ethnic permutations. There were still variations on the old theme--Barbie as a princess, Barbie as a bride, etc.. I’d venture a guess based on my own field research (as a mother of a six-year-old girl) that those products continued to do well. But we’ve seen, more recently, Barbie trying to compete with the new kid on the block--Bratz.

For the uninitiated, Bratz are a kind of slut/gangster version of the fashion doll. Their exaggerated head and lip size combined with their fitting, but unflattering, name made them an unpopular item in my household before I even had the chance to ban them. But there is a segment of the population that seems to think these dolls are appropriate for their daughters (the same segment that delights in dressing their pre-pubescent girls like American Idol contestants). Mattel’s "My Scene" dolls and the accompanying slut attire--seemingly launched to keep up with Bratz--has done them no favors in my view. People who like what Bratz has to "offer" will buy Bratz. People who like the more wholesome and attractive things that Barbie has always offered have given in to purchasing Disney Princess dolls from the Disney Store--even though the quality of the hair and other features is quite inferior. Mattel should ask themselves why American Girls had a surge in sales and Barbie did not. American Girl dolls sell well--despite their $100 price tag--because they are wholesome. They are appropriate for little girls. They do not encourage them to become sassy, disobedient, and vamped-up teenagers. I used to look forward to the day that my daughter and I could enjoy playing Barbie dolls together. We do still enjoy Barbies--but it’s hard to find suitable attire for them. Between finding clothes for my daughter and finding them for Barbie, I’m getting awful tired of sewing. Mattel should get a clue.

Discussions - 16 Comments

Thanks for that post, Julie. My daughter is only two and a half, but is already starting to take interest in her older friends’ Barbies, and especially in all the little accessories. However, based on what I’ve seen in the commercials and from your description, I think we’ll give Bratz a pass. I’m a big eBayer, so maybe I’ll just look for an older Barbie there. As long as Barbie has the little shoes and purses and and Cinderella-type princess outfits, my daughter will be happy, I suspect.

Another day in Ponzi land. Say Julie -do you still think Dick Cheney is a hottie?

Even better than Ken.

"Since the time that the plastic surgeons of politcal-correctness got ahold of her we have also seen Barbie in all kinds of "non-traditional" professions and in all kinds of ethnic permutations."

So, which "ethnic permutation" do you find to be so wrong-headed and politically correct? The Italian Barbie? The British Barbie? German? Greek? Am I getting warm yet?

What’s also amusing is that in the same post you seem to agree that even after the surgeons of political correctness stuck their noses in and changed Barbie, her physical dimensions and proportions still might not exactly be realistic, like those of any real human women, AND you talk of "the more wholesome and attractive things that Barbie has always offered." I have distinct memories from years ago of indignant defenders of moral values from your approximate sociopolitical neck of the woods, who were upset that a doll with curves of a porn star (or beyond) could be purchased in a swimsuit. This would spark premature sexual curiosity among any boys who might look at the dolls when the parents are away!

What was also conspicuous by its very absence in all of this talk about "wholesome" Barbie was any mention at all about the conditions under which those thousands of Princess Barbies are produced. Can any buyers of such dolls reading this (Julie included) say for certain where and how the dolls they bought were made, and declare with any confidence that it wasn’t some young girl - a child - working under quasi-slave conditions, that assembled it? Such narrow conceptions of "wholesome" confound me. Oh, but let me guess, asking these questions makes me a dangerous anti-trade "isolationist" (President Bush said so!) at best, and a terror-loving Commie at worst.

I continue to be amazed by how much this doll irritates the left. I wish they’d make a smoking Barbie. That would really eat them up.

Nowadays it is probably a coin flip as to what is more dangerous smoking or being a slut... in any case I think I will side with Lisa Simpson against Malibu Stacy. Lisa would object to the Bratz and the smoking barbie dools and wish for more "positive female role models"... well maybe I won’t side with Lisa but it doesn’t mean that I am not amazed by how good and pertinent the Simpsons are.

Lisa would also share the concerns of Chris Leidel, especially in regards to child labor.

Although if I remmember correctly, the "Lisa Lionheart??" was still made sexy (i.e. disproportionate breasts, legs, waist.) perhaps because an unsexy/non-offensive doll would simply reinforce the view that intelligent women are often times ugly.

Maybe I can stir this up again, but what if it could be proven that intelligent women are less likely to be good looking?

There is a good reasons why this might be true.

1) Ceteris Paribus people concentrate on strengths, good looks and intelligence (at least book form, not natural, I am assuming these can be improved...) must be traded off depending on the benefits. Often times I think women act dumb to impress men, at least in high school, which is why I think blondes are seen as air-heads/blondes have more fun....ext...people are molded by praise and role models and extra-curriculars and interests mold/change interests and thus energy spent on looking good vs. being intelligent.

On the other hand, one could argue that good looks has a complementary effect on intelligence... a person who looks good has more self-confidence...which translates into better all around performance. But at least in the case of the "blonde cheerleader" this tends to manifest itself anti-intellectually.

Is there a photo available of Ms. Ponzi, so that the fellas can determine if she is "a pretty woman who writes"?

Great, curious, we’re at stalking now. That’s raising the tone. Tell you what, post your picture first.

This is a hoot! I won’t post my photo but suffice it to say that while I’m no Barbie I confound most of these stereotypes (repeated, amazingly, by liberal guys!).

What is wrong with a stereotype?

Sterotypes often include truths. These aren’t absoulte truths, stereotypes may only be true 55% of the time and false the other 45% but if we look at the stereotype and ask why it is more true than not we can more fully appreaciate the tradeoffs made.

If we can’t stereotype we can’t even say that the Bratz’s doll is a slut or gansta, it is just an alternative mode of dress. I am defending Julie’s right to call the Bratz doll slut or gangsterish. Of course in a certain percentage of cases people that dress like the Bratz doll in real life are neither slut nor gansta. Even the view that lung cancer patients are all smokers is a stereotype, many are not. You could probably argue that smoking doesn’t cause cancer. But most people would rather argue that studying doesn’t make you ugly. It probably doesn’t per se...but if you read too much you may end up needing glasses, you might not get enough exercise, or enough sun.

My point is that stereotypes are not the "Truth" but that they don’t have to have such a high standard in order to be telling.

I would also argue that for various reasons people tend to "specialize" largely because of the feedback loops they create and are subject to. This creates a disproportionate number of stupid hot chicks and ugly braniacs. Not all hot chicks are stupid and not all braniacs are ugly, but the way you look means something...

Let me put it this way, if the way you look doesn’t mean a thing then there can be no controversy over any doll, because a doll that looks like a princess could represent a person who might hold up a liquor store, and a Bratz doll could represent a girl that runs around quoting the Bard.

I would also take all of this into account when talking about the state of education, and why boys fall behind in school...

Neither Marines nor Soilders are known for intelligence, and GI Joes are buff...not to mention the NFL, NBA, MLB...high-schoolers constantly make trade offs..it is about image. Boys fall behind in school because being good at school is not top on the list of things they wish to project about themselves.

To be fair to the stereotype, curious, I think that when Peter wrote about pretty women who write, he meant pretty women who write well. I don’t think that he referred to this tripe about Barbie, or to this:

"A useful place to start looking into what Jim Boehner is all about. From the information I garnered here he sounds like a solid guy. My best sources assure me that is true. "

The real reason behind Mattel’s sales of Barbies going donw is that she and Ken split. Family values were
not being respected by the toy company and wholesome, God-fearing American parents (like me) punished Mattel. Amen!

wm: Great, curious, we’re at stalking now. That’s raising the tone. Tell you what, post your picture first.

Asking if an online picture exists is the same thing as stalking? I didn’t realize the definition of that crime had been expanded so greatly. I wonder if Messrs. Schramm, Moser and Hayward (and perhaps others who blog here, I don’t know) feel unsafe with their photos online. Was Messr. Schramm "stalking" Kathleen Parker when he commented on her appearance?

suffice it to say that while I’m no Barbie I confound most of these stereotypes (repeated, amazingly, by liberal guys!)

And how, exactly, was I repeating any stereotype? I merely linked to Schramm’s comment about a "pretty woman who writes." He’s not a closet liberal, is he? If so, his front is very thorough and convincing!

The 2nd quote was from Ms. Ponzi, not wm, in case anyone was confused there...

Oh my god you people are pathetic! i dont know who any of you think you are but you dont have any power and writing on a website clearly shows to me and any other on lookers that you never will have! Writing on this site will not help your cause for one second! If you think that people will start to realise that what you are saying is true and jump up out of their seats and join you in a fight to save the world from Barbie and The Bratz dolls then i think you need to be banned from your own home! You are a bad influenced on your children! Thinking everyhting is bad and constantly looking at the negatives! Your children will become prudes! They wont have anyhting to do with men! And if and when tney do, the poor bastards wont be able to say one damn word because your daughter will drill him for some over dramatic reason!
if you really want to get your voice heard go in for bloody Prime Minister, start a petiton....for the love of God write a damn letter but dont expect your voice to be heard through a web page! But with ridiculous thoughts like yours i wouldnt expect any one would listen to you anyway!

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