A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Don't Blame Barbie

By Courtney E. Martin

"Part One: The Mother-Daughter Dynamic: Notes From the Road"

As I’ve traveled the country over the last year and change, talking about
my book, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, I’ve been struck by how often mothers ask me about two things: 1) Barbies and 2) the media.

The first has become—in my humble opinion—the 1980s catch all culprit for everything bad about American culture and the way it socializes our girls. My own mom tried to keep those plastic little devils out of my hot little hands, but soon realized that—just as my brother turned every unassuming branch into a machine gun—I would figure out a way to play with objectification.

In retrospect, I tell mothers, the comparison is even more apt that I realized at the time. Just as a gun isn’t dangerous, unless in dangerous, alcoholic, and/or vice presidential hands, a Barbie might just mark the beginning of my writing career. My friends and I would sit around on my attic floor, knee-deep in shag carpet, and invent wild operatic scenarios for our Barbies to live out. Work/life balance, that sexually harassing boss, and of course, love gained and lost were always major themes at these intense make-believe sessions. I wasn’t thinking about the size of Barbie’s thighs; I was worried about the size of her paycheck.

So, no, don’t worry so much about the Barbies. Your daughter might be trying to puzzle out how Barbie can get from her high-powered job as a corporate lawyer to that exciting date with Zach Efron, but she’s most likely not contemplating how anatomically preposterous Barbie’s body is. She’s already aced media literacy and downloads America’s Next Top Model when you’re not looking. Don’t waste your precious energy on fighting her over a plastic doll.

Tune in to Hip Slope Mama next time to hear my take on the other catch all culprit: the big, bad, white man-controlled media.

Courtney E. Martin is the author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, which comes out in paperback this September and a columnist for The American Prospect Online.

This short essay is the first of a three part series she wrote for Hip Slope Mama called "The Mother-Daughter Dynamic: Notes From the Road" based on observations on the road about the daughter-mother relationship when it comes to body image issues. You can read more about her work at www.courtneyemartin.com.