When I was a child I actually wanted to have a Ken and Barbie doll set. I liked the idea of dressing them up and playing with them. It was not to be, however, as it was determined that boys are not meant to play with Barbie dolls — particularly the boy named Gordon Davidescu of Princeton Junction, New Jersey.
I did not get a single Barbie doll for my entire childhood and lost interest in them in my adolescence and only regained a little interest in the Barbie doll line a couple of years ago when Mattel (the company that makes Barbie) ran an online contest to determine who would be their next “I can Be” Barbie selection.
Every year, Mattel releases Barbie dolls that are interested in various job fields. Barbie has been a doctor and a nurse, a football coach, and a flight attendant. I was never particularly interested in what job Barbie could hold down until the year of the election — and one of the options given was computer engineer. I was immediately hooked! I wanted to make sure that Barbie would be able to proclaim, so to speak, that the field of computer engineering was not merely limited to pasty white men. I told all of my friends about the vote and almost all of whom agreed to do so with the exception of one who said that he had never seen a computer engineer as attractive as Barbie.
I was reminded of a Barbie doll set from 1965 that had a slumber party set. It was complete with a satin robe, pajamas, as well as a book about dieting and a scale that was permanently set to one hundred and ten pounds. So that was what the girls of 1965 were playing when they played with their Barbie dolls — let’s try to be thin so we can be just like Barbie! Wouldn’t want to get on that scale and have it break now, would we?
When we see that Computer Engineer Barbie won in 2010 and then Architect was chosen by Mattel in 2011, I think we are moving in the right direction for Barbie — away from a vapid character who is more interested in diet books than anything else and toward being a well rounded woman.