The Barbie-doll look is still very much ‘stamped on the modern-day woman’, according to feminist and journalist Mary Kenny.
She was speaking ahead of the release of Greta Gerwig’s major motion picture on the doll starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
Gerwig has insisted the film is “most certainly feminist” – with the storyline seeing the iconic character embarking on a journey of self-discovery in the real world, with Ken inviting himself along for the ride.
In her latest Irish Independent column, journalist Mary Kenny examines Barbie's journey from a symbol despised by feminists to a character pitched as a feminist icon.
On Newstalk Breakfast she said the original doll still has a huge influence over many of the women on our TV screens today.
“Barbie did really represent the ideal that women really should be busty, long-legged blondes and I think that look has very much been stamped on modern-day women,” she said.
“If you look at women, for example, on television, quite a high percentage of them are still, sort of, Barbie babes – they are long-haired blondes.”
She said the original doll went against everything the early feminists believed in.
“One of the most important foundational ideas of feminism was that women should not be judged by their looks or women should not be identified or framed by their looks,” she said.
“I mean there is nothing wrong with being pretty or being beautiful or even adornment – but it is not the essence of the person.
“Early feminists, we wanted women to think about being Marie Curie or the writer George Elliot – someone who was exceptionally ugly, apparently.”
Ms Kenny said the idea of feminism has changed a lot over the decades and the marketing team at Barbie-maker Mattel was happy to move with the times.
“You know the doll is a very clever marketing operation and incredibly profitable,” she said.
“They have given Barbie all sorts of professions – she has been in space and she has been a scientist and so on.
“A very welcome move, actually, was they introduced Barbie in a wheelchair and they introduced a Down Syndrome Barbie, which I think was very positive.
"Of course, there are also Barbies of colour, so these were positive moves towards diversity.”
Ms Kenny noted that the movie has been pitched as perfect for people who love Barbie – and for those who hate what she stands for.
She said she does plan to sit down with her granddaughter and see what the movie is all about.
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