The feminist movement that began with the suffragettes of the early 1900s and took significant strides in the 1970s reached its zenith in 1980s, when Mattel launched the Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” campaign.
These Barbie commercials were engaging and compelling—they featured girls playing with the Barbies, making them move about fluidly, and narrating each Barbie’s story. Every Barbie had a special talent or feminine wile…Rock Star Barbie was the headliner of the international sensation Barbie and the Rockers. Astronaut Barbie bravely navigated the final frontier and boldly went where no Barbie had gone before. Human Resources Barbie excelled at finding well-qualified talent that was “the right fit” for the organization she represented. (OK, fine, I made that one up.) And Loving You Barbie was good at um…wearing poufy dresses with hearts and…loving…you.
The campaign’s catchphrase was, “We Girls Can Do Anything…Right, Barbie?” And Barbie would flash her gentle smile at the screen, encouraging us that YES WE CAN! (As a “DC insider,” I can state with authority that the Team Obama has downplayed the early influencer of what became the winning political catchphrase of 2008.)
Well, I’m going to be straight up. As a girl, my favorite Barbie was not Astronaut Barbie or Home and Office Barbie, it was more like a tie between Peaches ‘n’ Cream Barbie, Dream Glow Barbie, and Crystal Barbie. These ladies looked GOOD and kept Ken on a short leash.
A tip of my hat to these glamorous Barbies, who accomplished at clearly a young age (21, tops) what I couldn’t manage to do until my early 30s…lock down a man. But even when the going got tough (date revealed he was married right after dessert, boring date said his only interests were “comic books and candy,” dumped by boyfriend on my birthday weekend), I always knew that—if I kept focusing on my appearance, keeping my expression serene, and walking gracefully in heels—I, too, could reach my goal of a dreamboat boyfriend. Right, Barbie!