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Pregnant Barbie

Work is eating my brain!!! For the last two weeks I’ve been working 9-12 hour days, commuting home, having a quick snack or fast food and sitting on the couch for one episode of Futurama – which is less about unwinding and more about submitting to my cat’s demand for lap time after not seeing me all day – then sleeping for about 6 hours, waking up and doing it all over again.

In addition to my all-(brain)consuming current work assignment, Mom has been in town since June 19th! Every spare minute not spent at work, on the couch with the cat, or sleeping has been spent adventuring around Minneapolis and the Twin Cities. So far we’ve gone to the Minnesota Science Museum, roof-top dining at Stella’s Fish Cafe, on a makeup shopping spree at Bare Escentuals, to the Vali Hi Drive In in Lake Elmo (Green Lantern and Super 8), the Minnesota Zoo, wine and cheese shopping, the Twin Cities Gay Pride Parade and exploring cool restaurants so we have an excuse not to cook. Seriously, I’ve got so much photo editing to do that my Mac is going to crash before I get to it.

Life is good. Chaotic, crazy busy and good.

So, the blogging has been light here, but I’ve been wanting to post this article for about a week now. May I present:

Pregnant Barbie!?

I was chatting with some friends a couple of weeks ago about women and careers. Barbie was brought up as an example of a toy that has changed over time with women’s evolving career choices. Nowadays you can find Barbie in almost every line of work and lifestyle choice. Someone in the group said that you could even get a “Pregnant Barbie”. My first thought was, “Cool! Pregnant Barbie”, which was followed by my second thought, “Uh-oh…Pregnant Barbie”.

It was mentioned that Pregnant Barbie could even “give birth”. Double uh-oh. Please, I thought, please don’t let it come out of the belly button. The friend who was speaking didn’t remember if the baby did in fact come out of the belly button, but we all agreed that the chances of an anatomically-correct vaginal birth for Baby Barbie was probably not part of Mattel’s plans.

I came home and googled “Pregnant Barbie” and learned a couple of things:

This is old hat. Mattel’s pregnant doll was introduced in the early 2000s. A good many of you may have seen or remember commercials for “Pregnant Barbie”. I had just graduated college around this time and wasn’t watching a lot of television then, so I completely missed the entire preggers Barbie doll.

Second,  Barbie herself has never been pregnant. Mattel’s prize hog doll was spared a potentially image-crippling pregnancy; they decided to let Barbie’s friend Midge take the normal social risks of being a pregnant woman. And the public outcry against Midge’s pregnancy was predictable: How dare a doll address something wicked and dirty like pregnancy? Wouldn’t a happy, healthy pregnant doll promote promiscuity and a desire to get pregnant in young, impressionable girls?  After a few years Midge was discontinued and is now considered a collector’s item.

I found this fabulous and moderately annoying YouTube video about Pregnant Midge. The analysis is decent, but the sound effects are pretty awful. Mike Mozart raises some excellent points that are worthy of a bit of good ol’ feminist outrage:

  • Midge was originally released with a bare hand, but a later version shows Midge wearing a wedding ring. There’s no unwed teen mothers in Mattel’s family-friendly clan!
  • Pregnant Midge’s feet are molded for high heels. Because women in their third trimester always wear heels.
  • The belly is attached by magnents – Barbie can get pregnant and have kids again and again and again!

The thing that annoys me most about Mattel’s pregnant Midge doll is the misinformation that it spreads around to its target audience. If you are going to address pregnancy in a doll, why confuse a kid with a full-grown baby tucked in Mommy’s interstitial space?  Sure, there is a great deal of suspension of disbelief  when dealing with Barbies, but why do this weird kind-of delivery? Why not just create a nice, sterile third-trimester lump above Barbie’s nice sterile genitals?  The “baby bump” is probably about as much as young kids usually get exposed to anyway. I think it was a cool idea for Mattel to introduce a pregnant Barbie. However, I think that they should have treated Barbie’s pregnancy with the same general vagueness as they do Barbie’s life in general – just smooth over the “ucky stuff”.

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