Barbie, etc.

Was chatting on Facebook about women feeling victimized by Barbie and unrealistic body images, crap like that.

Victimized? By a piece of plastic? Talk about your first world problems!

But then again, I would say that, because I kinda did look like Barbie when I was 18-20, in fact I recall a fellow I was seeing at the time reporting back with glee that one of his co-workers had seen us together and told him what a lucky sonofabitch he was to be nailing Barbie.

Enough humblebragging, though.

But anyway, this led into a bit of a discussion of how we played with Barbie as kids, which I thought would be funny to post about here.

As of a quite young age, I was always into hard rock, maybe because my older brother was into metal so I could peruse his copies of Circus Magazine, RIP, Metal Edge, et al (before I was old enough to start buying my own with my allowance). And I remember quite clearly the day that “Welcome to the Jungle” first played on CKLG’s Top 10 at 10 and how that changed everything.

So, yeah, I had Barbies and I also had Jem dolls, which were more aimed at rock star fantasies. But I recall noticing that Lita Ford and Doro Pesch looked more like Barbie than Jem (the Jems were supposedly more realistic, meaning they had fat legs, cankles, and big almost flat feet that only accommodated big low heels, but worst of all was that their faces remained weirdly kinda childlike).

So, I pulled the little plastic guitars, microphones, and keytars etc. off of my Jem dolls and put them on my Barbies instead. Besides, Barbies had better clothes: natural cool, rather than the trying-too-hard pretend-cool of Jem.

Compare and contrast to my childhood best friend, who wasn’t into music beyond listening to shitty boy bands (in fact, I do believe our friendship ended a few years later because she couldn’t fathom why I liked “gross guys” like L.A. Guns and Guns N Roses while I couldn’t fathom why she liked “retards” like New Kids on the Block. I mean, come on: even my least favorite Gunner—*cough*Steven Adler*cough*—was way cooler than the whole of the New Kids combined…). Anyway, she wanted a big family, so her Barbies did not have a band. Instead, she would designate one as the Mom, others as sisters or aunts or older daughters, and she also had the Skipper and other younger Barbie sibling dolls, and her Barbies were going on family vacations, not on tour.

You’re wired the way you’re wired, I guess. And how you play with things like Barbie and whether or not you even bother all depends on what pushes your buttons that already exist.

And as for unrealistic, if you go for exact projected measurements, sure. (Dolly Parton being the exception to the rule.) But Barbie was more about an aura of glamour, and that’s highly realistic. In fact, I’d say it’s a worthwhile goal, not in lieu of actual accomplishment, but in addition to it. Why not spend a few extra minutes in the morning (or afternoon, if you’re on the Dracula schedule like me) and bring on a little glamour? I actually find our society’s push towards uglification of everything and everyone to be far more disturbing than anything potentially caused by a little plastic doll with a nice rack.

Too often, we act as if a pretty woman is a moron. And too often, it’s other women making that proclamation, I guess as a means to take the competition down a couple notches and not have to put in any effort ourselves. I recall my former sister-in-law, no slob herself, seeing pics of me and a couple friends out at a club and snarkily asking if one of them (who, come to think of it, looks like a brunette Barbie) was “made of plastic”. Said friend is an absolute sweetheart, and very smart too with her own consulting business. She’s got both the brains and the beauty, and we ought to celebrate that.

Or there’s another girl I know who has the brains and can certainly have the beauty when she feels like it, but because she wants to be lazy and yet still land some rich dude for a husband, she gets super-bitchy and resentful about women who do put in the extra few minutes to always be well put-together in public. Why? Competition. And she has this notion that she shouldn’t have to put in any effort to get what she’s after.

I could go on and on. Long story short: that kind of bitching rather than upping their own game only hurts the women doing it. And it reeks of insecurity and wanting to tear everyone else down rather than build yourself up. And it doesn’t work anyway: people avoid such bitches, and the high status males they feel entitled too just ignore them and chase the pretty, put-together chicks the lazy ones complain about.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of the slobs, Barbie is queen.

But anyway, back to the bit about Barbie play: worse than any body image shit, if you want to overanalyze Barbie for clues to women’s problems, look no further than what passes for her mate and how she interacts with him.

Ken’s rather bland and boring, basically a beta bucks guy who I guess bankrolls all her crap but lacks any interesting traits beyond that. There’s a doctor Barbie, but what the fuck does Ken do? Does he have any hobbies? Any career? Any friends? Any reason for existing other than to make Barbie look good, basically being little more than another of her accessories?

If you’re going to blame Barbie for chicks feeling the need to hit the gym (word to the wise: you need to hit the gym to stay healthy and sane, having a nice body is really just a nice perk that flows from that, so fuck your whining about having to go and move), then you’d have just a strong an argument for blaming Barbie and Ken for the high divorce rate where women get sick of their beta provider husbands that they value more for the monetary angle than for the actual husbands as partners and toss them aside when they decide they want to go bang some hot young alpha males instead.

I guess that’s why when GI Joes were the same height as Barbie (versus being much smaller action figures as they were when I was a kid) so many people used to toss Ken and put Barbie and GI Joe together.

It’s that whole Chateau Heartiste maxim: alpha fucks, beta bucks.

Poor Ken. He needs a red pill makeover. No more pink Corvettes.

And how about some diversity? Not the current means of it where it’s the same lame Ken doll only in varying skin colors, I mean actual personality and body type diversity so Barbie has a choice and at least one of the Kens has a chance to win her without buying another goddamn pink Corvette.

I mean, currently with that awful plastic hair he had in the 80s, his only hope was to borrow Barbie’s hot pink synth and get into a Duran Duran tribute band and hope they played on a night the tequila shots were half price and that he could fake a British accent well enough to convince a drunk chick he was Nick Rhodes. Ken sure as Hell wasn’t nearly as interesting as any of the guys in Circus Magazine, and thus I mostly ignored Ken unless for some reason Barbie needed him as a fashion accessory/prop.

Let’s have a look at a few different archetypes Ken could become in order to becoming interesting.

Sticking with the overall theme: There could be skinny rock star Ken, in which case he needs to lay off the Haagen Daas since he’s a little blobby, get really lean, and learn an instrument. He also needs better hair, whether that’s a mass of wild curls a la Slash or just long and teased up dark hair a la Nikki Sixx. Maybe a tattoo or 12. He also needs a guitar, preferably a Gibson (as God intended). This requires a new thinner body mould, but on the upside, he might be able to share clothes with Barbie, which in a blond Ken would mean he’d essentially be Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks. When I was a kid, I would have dearly loved such a Ken (especially in a dark haired version) and probably would have wanted a whole band’s worth of them. (So… hey Mattel, you’re losing out on a solid revenue stream here!)

Not that it changed the body type any, but I did kinda make a rock musician Ken when I rerooted longer dark hair onto one for footage for the videos I did for “Deep End” last year. Still a long way off of Andy McCoy or Johnny Thunders, and I still gotta get him a guitar, but it’s a start since he’s way less dorky than the standard-issue Kens:


(And as I was adding this picture, my iPod jumps to Johnny Thunders’ “Little Bit of Whore,” which is as good a soundtrack to that as any…)

If Ken would prefer to not lay off the Haagen Daas, but still wants to wear leather pants and tattoos, get him a Harley and a bad attitude. Long hair is also recommended for this look. This could be the same body mould they use now, but he needs a new face that doesn’t have that bland blank half smile.

Or maybe Ken would like to get a little roided up and become an MMA fighter. Obviously this would be a different body mould again, and Ken won’t have a neck, but certain Barbies will be all over that. Currently the closest I’ve seen to MMA Ken is that I think there was a 12″ tall super-ripped and roided up Batman, and if you want to talk about unrealistic Batman must have had a 60″ chest of solid muscle. Not my thing, but lots of girls do go for that, just ask Ahhhhhnuld.

Or if Ken wants to keep the same body and shitty hairdo without the massive debt load and payments on the pink sports cars, Ken needs good game. I suppose this means he’ll need to try the Mystery Method: bring on the fuzzy pimp hat and black nail polish and ditch the dork clothes he currently comes with.

Or give him a surfboard, some blond highlights in longer hair, a bunch of weed, a puka shell necklace, and some tooth marks on his ass and let him tell the Barbies about his harrowing encounter with a great white while passing the bong around.

Speaking of body moulds, let’s give the poor guy a bulge, huh? I’m not saying anatomically correct, but more than the gelding front he’s currently sporting.

But I guess it doesn’t matter, as Skinny Rock Star Ken’s gonna stuff a sock down the front of his pants anyway. Or, if he follows the Tao of Spinal Tap, a foil-wrapped zucchini.