According to a laudatory article published by FastCompany, Barbie dolls, whose sales have declined for years, are becoming woke with leftist tropes, and it’s not a moment too soon.
Writer Elizabeth Segran begins her tribute to the new, virtue-signaling Barbie by chortling:
Just before Thanksgiving this year, Barbie had her wokest moment yet. On the official BarbieStyle Instagram channel, she was pictured in a series of photos with another doll, Aimee, wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “Love Wins,” the slogan of the marriage equality movement. The posts were a tableaux of domesticity. In one, the pair is sitting cosily in Barbie’s walk-in closet, stroking a dog and staring into each others’ eyes. In another, they are eating avocado toast at their favorite Silver Lake café.
Not leftist enough for you? How about this: a September BarbieStyle Instagram account featured Barbie wearing a “People Are People” T-shirt designed by Christian Siriano to protest President Trump’s immigration ban.
In case the reader remains unaware of Segran’s own political preferences, there is this: “In the United States, Barbie’s liberal stances have been particularly striking at a time when the Trump administration has been making efforts to overturn LGBT rights in the workplace and the military, and preventing people from Muslim countries from getting visas, prompting waves of protest on both sides of the political divide.”
Segran points out that sales of Barbies have plunged since 2009. (Gee, what changed in 2009?)
Segran acknowledges that part of the reason for the drop in sales is the increasing predilection of children for touch screens and electronic toys. But that’s only part of the reason, she notes, stating, “But analysts have also attributed the decline of Barbie to the fact that Mattel hasn’t been able to shake the stigma that the brand is a bad influence on girls because she promotes sexism.” Of course, those analysts were quoted by the Huffington Post, so . . .
Segran, unsurprisingly, quotes Christia Spears Brown, a psychology professor and author who studies gender stereotypes in children, saying, “Millennial parents are a very different demographic than generations before. They’re trying to make more socially conscious decisions in a world where there are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to shopping. They want to spend their money in ways that align with their values, and we’re seeing a trend of parents being very sensitive to the gender stereotypes found in toys.”
Segran notes, “In a YouGov survey, only 35% of consumers had a positive impression of the Barbie brand before these more inclusive dolls came out, and this figure only went up to 41% after the new products launched.”
Hmm, you mean it might just be the focus on electronic toys that’s the cause of the plunge and all the virtue-signaling doesn’t matter a whit?
But immediately she writes, “It’s possible that the brand simply didn’t push these dolls hard enough.”
Later, Segran quotes Michelle Chidoni, Mattel’s VP of communications: “While Mattel has tried to expand Barbie’s range of career choices, the vast majority of dolls sold on the market are still the $9.99 fashion dolls, Chidoni says.”
You mean, girls just want to be girls, without the political garbage leftists want to foist on them? Perish the thought!
Chidoni adds, “The fashion doll piece is absolutely the centerpiece of the line. This doll is the key to the system of play, because you need this doll to enable the storytelling and imagination. Changing what she is wearing changes her role and where she is going.”
Segran admits, “It’s likely that Mattel hasn’t pushed the career-oriented or realistically figured Barbie lines because they don’t sell as well.”
But Segran will never say die:
All of this seems terribly retrograde as we head into 2018. At a time when sexual harassment scandals are capable of toppling powerful movie producers and politicians, and 5 million women around the world marched in January 2017 to advocate for human rights, many of today’s parents aren’t willing to tolerate a doll that carries even a whiff of sexism.
Come out of your bubble, Ms. Segran. There are still plenty of parents willing to let girls be girls.