Guys and Dolls: A Male’s Retrospective on Barbie

Barbie Logo Guys and Dolls: A Males Retrospective on Barbie

She's still going strong, but what do I care? I'm a dude.

If you haven’t been paying attention, I’m a boy. Shocking, yes? I was born a boy, grew up a boy, and am currently still a boy. This is relevant because today I’m going to talk about Barbies. What could a boy possibly say about Barbies? Plenty, because while I grew up as a boy, all my friends were girls. Plus, Barbie is still incredibly popular these days, so it’s time for a follow-up article to the most famous girls’ toy from a boy’s perspective. Grab your pink convertible and let’s go for a ride.

The Exhaulted Backstory

The year is 1959 for those keeping track. No, not for my childhood, for Barbie’s. Barbara Millicent Roberts was created by Ruth Handler in an attempt to replicate a German doll named Bild Lilli. That’s right, Barbie may just be a replicant of her German ancestors. Would that make her any less successful? I seriously doubt it.

Anyway, Barbie came out way back when and held strong from her inception to yesterday (I haven’t checked today, but I assume she’s still Mattel’s star product), and eventually her life and mine intersected around the late 80’s and early 90’s. I was busy with my current love, Ninja Turtles, but I also had another love: girls. Girls were awesome and I was a smart child, so it was inevitable that I’d find the usefulness of Barbie.

My Childhood With Barbie

Barbie Dream House Guys and Dolls: A Males Retrospective on Barbie

That was a pretty sweet house by the way. Totally inconvenient, but pretty sweet.

Sure enough, my friends that happened to be girls (not girlfriends, unfortunately) coincidentally enjoyed Barbie just as much as the next female. The standard models of Barbie came into play, such as Barbie in a bikini, Barbie in an elegant dress, and naked Barbie, a staple of every Barbie collection. Her sisters were in the mix, too, with Skipper, Stacie, and Krissy tagging along in the pink cars to the convenience stand that Barbie owned for some reason or wherever else my friends decided these dolls should go.

I found a nice way to compromise while playing, of course. I had a few G.I. Joes that were the same size as the Barbies, so I’d bring those along and they’d fight right in front of Barbie’s hotdog stand or whatever it was while she swooned. I assume my friends were making her swoon and that sound wasn’t just them getting bored. Even better, I had a Ninja Turtle the same size as well, so Michelangelo got in on the Barbie action a few times, fending off Joe and Ken at the same time.

By the way, I was never quite clear on where Barbie and Ken stood. I knew they were together, but then Mattel came out and said the two broke up in 2004 or something and then got back together in 2006, but I didn’t buy it. Their romance was never genuine, a fact I could see by the fake smiles they always had on when seen in public together. Ken was so lame to me even as a guy that I’d refuse to play as him, opting to be one of Barbie’s friends or sisters or whatever, as long as I wasn’t Ken.

Street Fighter Ken Guys and Dolls: A Males Retrospective on Barbie

I prefer this Ken, personally.

From a guy’s perspective, Barbie had a lot of cool stuff. I mean, she had dozens of playsets and accessory packs. While it didn’t really interest me to look at clothes and shoes, I could relate insomuch as G.I. Joes had accessory packs with guns and suits and stuff, so the two worlds weren’t really so different. I could definitely see the appeal of all the playsets as well. Barbie had a dream mansion with a real working elevator. None of my Ninja Turtle playsets had a real working anything, let alone an elevator.

My sister had the Barbie Dream Mansion, a super Christmas gift my parents got her one year that even got ME jazzed. Heck, that thing was huge. Plus, I guess I liked my sister. She had a few Barbies but nothing outrageous. Probably the coolest thing I remember seeing her do was gather all her Barbies in a circle, and when we’d asked her what they were doing she said they were having a Bible study. When we’d look back at the circle, our cat, Alex, had grabbed one of the Barbies by the hair and drug it under my sister’s bed where he proceeded to lick its face. Yes, he was the manliest man cat of all man kind.

That’s about as far as I’d like to remember Barbie at the moment, but I know for sure that when I have a daughter, I’ll be getting her a Barbie as soon as possible. But what about you kind folks reading out there? Do you have any good Barbie memories? Or do you prefer not to think about her? Let me know and leave a comment. I have to go play with Ninja Turtles in the meantime to rekindle my manliness. Please excuse me.

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Author:Chris Pranger

Chris is the Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA, doing his best to oversee the site and see new content published at least three times a week. He's more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but he seems to be pretty bad with trolls. He also writes periodically for Tomopop and contributes weekly videos on The Escapist.

3 Responses to “Guys and Dolls: A Male’s Retrospective on Barbie”

  1. Gus Townson
    June 13, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    This is a very ambitious and deffinately unique subject for you Chris. Well done. I unfortunately didn’t have the mindset you did to look into Barbies as open mindedly as a kid. Although I do remember having all five of the origional Mighty Morphing Power Ranger action figures that were about the same size as well, and the more I think about it, Kimberly was basically the “Barbie” of the team.
    Seriously, that joke about Ken from street fighter made me laugh out loud. You know, I was never so much a fan of Barbie’s Ken myself. It’s actually kind of interesting that Pixar is making him a villain in the 3rd Toy Story movie.

  2. June 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Hey that’s totally fair. I read up on Barbie’s various controversies over the years and man, parents have GOT to be careful around the anorexic wonder that is Ms. Roberts. Supposedly they’ve widened her midsection ever so slightly, but it’s still ridiculous. Even Ninja Turtles tend to have a more realistic body image than Barbie half the time.

  3. Jamie
    June 11, 2010 at 10:57 pm #

    (long time lurker)

    Good post. :)

    Just for the record, though, I will NOT be getting my daughter (who is currently two) a Barbie unless she specifically asks for one and gives a better reason than “everyone else has one.” I really think that Barbie influences girls to view themselves and their bodies in a very warped way, and that’s not something I want to encourage. When she’s old enough (assuming nothing changes between now and then), we’re planning to get her into the American Girls things, because they are more realistic (and more fun anyway, in my opinion) – if she wants to, that is. I’m not really into forcing anything upon my kid, but I also know which things I want to encourage and which I don’t.
    Just my two cents. :)

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