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Careers fashion day at school

As dolls go, Barbie is not a good inspiration for girls. Therefore the Girl Scouts should not be getting mixed up with Barbie. Alexandra Petri has more at the Washington Post blog.

Thanks to what a new Girl Scouts badge-earning booklet describes as “a generous donation from Mattel, Inc.,” there is a new patch Girl Scouts can get — the Barbie “Be Anything, Do Everything” patch. It’s bright pink, like the booklet, which includes some paper Barbie dolls whom you can costume in lovely career-related ensembles with pink accents. Barbie and her friend Teresa can be veterinarians (in short pink skirts) or chefs or even ballerinas.

No. Wrong. Bad move. Work isn’t about what clothes you were (except when it is, e.g. when you’re a model, but we already know that’s a lousy kind of work). Work is about what you do, not what you wear. Wearing something isn’t doing anything. It’s passive.

In theory, Barbie’s message is empowering. Be Anything. Do Everything.

But what about in practice?

Well, take the Barbie Career Quiz on the Girl Scouts Barbie tie-in page and you begin to understand why some people are already pressing the Scouts to sever their Barbie ties. I took it. It was a disaster.

You’ll have to go there to see all the screenshots. The whole thing is all about the mistake I just pointed out – it’s about what the doll is wearing. Barbie in a pink skirt and a blue top, teaching. Barbie in pink tights and a long black T shirt and bling, fashion designing. Barbie in a tiny dress and a lab coat, being a veterinarian. Barbie in a space suit with pink accents, being an astronaut.

And much much more.

 

 

Comments

  1. Blanche Quizno says

    C’mon, people. If girls don’t learn NOW that, at the end of the day, their REAL job is to look pretty, when will they learn it??

  2. Tessa says

    It’s sad the actual idea for the quiz isn’t so bad. If it didn’t have barbie in ridiculous pink outfits, and featured more realistic women, then a quiz where you had to pick the “tools of the trade” with the given career would be a positive thing.

  3. rq says

    Handling animals with various ailments and illnesses in a mini-skirt is like all that iron-bikini-female armour in fantasy stories. Sure, it’s fashionable, but what about job safety?? What are they teaching these girls about dressing right for the job?
    Ooooh, I get it – the girls will probably grow up to woman the reception desk, where looking fashionable and receptive is important. :P
    (Oddly enough, while I don’t know any veterinarians, all the vet techs I know are women… who do not wear pink miniskirts.)

  4. rq says

    Also, does Barbie never, ever, EVER wear pants?? And the three Barbie heads (sorry, Teresa and Nikki) have completely interchangeable bodies. Go diversity.

  5. Silentbob says

    Work isn’t about what clothes you [wear] (except when it is, e.g. when you’re a model, but we already know that’s a lousy kind of work). Work is about what you do, not what you wear. Wearing something isn’t doing anything. It’s passive.

    To continue my mini-rant from last thread…

    Your writer’s propensity to look down your nose at visual artists (which is what professional models are, BTW) reminds me of Dawkin’s propensity to look down his nose at social sciences. (And as much as I respect and admire you, that is not a compliment.)

  6. sonderval says

    Probably I’m misunderstanding something here: The WP-Blog seems to imply that you have to look at the dress of the Barbie to guess what her profession is – which is of course stupid. But the actual test on the Barbie-site clearly states the profession below the picture and explains what it does – this part was cut off in the screen shots. Was this changed afterwards? Otherwise, the reporting on the WP blog seems a bit dishonest to me.

  7. medivh says

    Silentbob, #6: Models are more like professional canvasses. Fashion designers create, models are selected to fit the creation and then walk like they’re told to.

  8. captainahags says

    To chime in with Silentbob, I think the negative comments about models are exactly the kind of thing you’d be calling out if it was someone else saying it. Calling modeling “a lousy kind of work” in the most charitable interpretation sounds to me as if you’re saying it’s a bad gig and no one should aspire to be one, and in a less charitable sense sounds like you’re saying it’s bad/unnecessary/makes you a lesser person. And your comments on Mrs. Potato Head were worse. You’re better than this.

  9. captainahags says

    @Ophelia
    And you know what, I should also be more constructive in my critique, so here it is. I’m no mind reader, but I would guess that the part of modeling to which you object is likely the exploitative nature of the industry, as well as the unrealistic standards of beauty that it promotes- neither of which are really the fault of the individual models. Perhaps emphasizing that would be more informative and less… job-ist? Careerist?

  10. says

    silentbob @ 6

    Your writer’s propensity to look down your nose at visual artists (which is what professional models are, BTW) reminds me of Dawkin’s propensity to look down his nose at social sciences. (And as much as I respect and admire you, that is not a compliment.)

    No, I know it’s not a compliment, thank you. I get that it’s the snottiest insult you could think of.

    One, what propensity is this? Can you show me one place where I’ve looked down my nose at visual artists? Because I’m not aware that I do any such thing, and I don’t think I do. I’m pretty sure I have a very high opinion of visual artists. And no, that is not what professional models are. Don’t be ridiculous. You might as well say the oranges in a still life are visual artists.

    And in conclusion, fuck you.

  11. says

    captainahags @ 10 and 11 –

    No I would not be calling this out if someone else were saying it, and no I’m not better than this. This is what I think. I think it’s one of the crappiest jobs women can aspire to, and I find it horrifying (if true) that almost a third of girls do aspire to it. Sure, it’s ok as a job-job; it’s ok as a way to finance education or similar; but as a life goal? For 30% of girls? No.

    And I don’t think being job-ist is a bad thing. Why should it be? Why is it a bad thing to think and say that some kinds of work are better than others?

    One of the worst jobs I know of? Working in a poultry factory. It’s terrible work in godawful conditions, and the pay is shit. Is that job-ist of me?

    Another worst job? Being a foreign domestic worker in Saudi Arabia.

    Another? Doing public relations for the tobacco industry.

    Another? Prison guard.

  12. Blanche Quizno says

    Well, modeling *IS* a step up from dancing in your underwear, right?

    And dancing in your underwear *IS* a step up from dancing naked, of course.

    And dancing naked *IS* a step up from porn star, ya gotta admit!

    And porn star *IS* a step up from being a whore, don’tcha fink?

    So, if it’s four steps UP from something we all agree is a crappy job, that makes it a GOOD job! QED!!

    If you need anything else explained to you, Ophelia, that’s what I’m here for. I help people – that’s what I do.

    (/sarcasm)

  13. Blanche Quizno says

    @ 9 & 6: My niece, who was less pretty than her older sister, always wanted to be a model. She’s not very pretty, and she’s 6’1″. So her mother took her to speak with a modeling agent. Here’s what the modeling agent told her:

    “With your height, the only option open to you is runway modeling. And here’s how that works: When there’s going to be a show somewhere, like Milan or New York, you buy yourself a plane ticket, you go there, and you check into a hotel. You pay for all this. Then you go to where the show is being readied, and you present yourself as an available model. If a designer chooses you, he* can do whatever he wants to you – he can send you out half naked, shave your head. Anything. And if no one chooses you, you go home. No money for you.”

    After that, she got that little fantasy of being a model out of her head. Besides, it was so transparent – being a model “proves” that you’re beautiful, right? It’s swan time for the ugly duckling.

    And that is how these businesses get away with continuing to exploit young women.

    * used in the general sense – I know, there are female designers

  14. moarscienceplz says

    Wow, that quiz is really enlightening. I learned that astronauts and architects DO NOT use computers!
    I can haz deeploma now?

  15. captainahags says

    Well, here’s the summary of what I wrote below, which is easier to digest. Modeling is probably not a good job for many people. But the message that I got from your words is that people who are models are passive, brainless, and useless, and that’s what I was objecting to. Maybe it wasn’t super clear, but there it is.

    Well, modeling *IS* a step up from dancing in your underwear, right?

    And dancing in your underwear *IS* a step up from dancing naked, of course.

    And dancing naked *IS* a step up from porn star, ya gotta admit!

    And porn star *IS* a step up from being a whore, don’tcha fink?

    So, if it’s four steps UP from something we all agree is a crappy job, that makes it a GOOD job! QED!!

    If you need anything else explained to you, Ophelia, that’s what I’m here for. I help people – that’s what I do.

    (/sarcasm)

    Just light that straw on fire. Let it burrrrrn. Now, back to the original point.

    I’m not saying modeling is a good gig, or that the industry is healthy, or that it’s a good thing that so many people aspire to be it. I am saying that if someone was here telling us that blogging is

    “One of the most brainless and passive lines of “work” it’s possible to think of, and also one of the most useless…and that’s a big career goal. Ugh.”

    then people would be up in arms. Hell, if someone said that about fast food workers (minus the career goal part I suppose) people would be here talking about how it’s crazy difficult and useful to society and etc. etc.

    You might as well say the oranges in a still life are visual artists.

    Right, and that’s why anyone can go out and be a model, because it’s so passive and easy and brainless. That’s why only dumb bimbos do it, amirite?
    In the context of bad jobs:

    Another? Doing public relations for the tobacco industry.

    A job that as far as I know, can pay pretty well…

  16. Celegans says

    I think working as a model is pretty grim quite a lot of the time, although a lot of models seem to enjoy it as one job among others. I would try very hard to steer my daughter away if she looked set in that direction (she isn’t).

    But being a model, even a second or third tier one it isn’t just passive. I think we should give models their due. Good ones are much better than bad ones and earn more money, get more jobs, not just because of the way they look (they all look great and there is always a big choice of every type) but because of what they do. If you are a photographer of any kind who has worked with models you will have experience of this. A good model gives you better photos, she (or he) picks up quickly on what you are after (another reason why I think successful models tend to be bright) and gives it to you without needing to be posed, cajoled, persuaded, and often they give a bit more than you would have found yourself. Great models make ordinary photogs feel very special.

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