My mother never liked me playing with Barbie dolls as a girl. She felt they were too sexualized for a 5-year-old. My grandmother thought she was nuts. Turns out, Mom was right.
Not only does Barbie have an Instagram account, Mattel contracts with designers to create special edition clothing for the doll. Recently they contracted with L.A.-based fashion designer and blogger Aimee Song to create a series of looks for Barbie. One design: an embroidered “Love Wins” t-shirt. According to Romper, “The shirts are modeled after Song’s own line of T-shirts. The T-shirt comes in two colors, red and white, with embroidered rainbow letters and retails for $68 on her website, Song of Style. While that might seem steep for a T-shirt, it’s worth it. Half of the profits from the shirts go to the Trevor Project, which does outreach for LGBTQ youth.”
Because every little girl needs to know that gay teens are at a higher risk of committing suicide.
Lest you think I’m being unnecessarily paranoid about the gross over-sexualization of a little girl’s toy, Romper’s coverage goes on to note:
Aside from a few trolls, the response on Barbie’s Instagram profile has been super positive. Since we all know that Barbie and Ken have had a long relationship together, tons of commenters were thrilled to see Barbie not just supporting LGBTQ rights, but many also imagined that maybe she was “coming out as bisexual,” though that’s just a fan theory, since Mattel and Barbie were only plugging the “Love Wins” shirts in the Instagram post.
Others felt bad for Ken and wondered if he was getting his own “Love Wins” shirt, too. Ken’s actually become a gay icon since the 1990s when he was sold as “Earring Magic Ken,” complete with an earring and a necklace that resembled a sex toy. So, Ken’s probably very happy that Barbie has come out in support of the LGBTQ community, even just as an ally.
To be fair, the gay community has a habit of stealing icons from underage girls. Barbie is only the latest in a long line of pop icons— including Madonna, the Spice Girls, and Britney Spears—to become a symbol for the gay community. What makes this episode in Barbie history particularly creepy isn’t so much the Marilyn Monroe-ing of the blonde doll, but the gross oversexualization of little girls (and boys) in general. This is the era of Harvey Weinstein & Co. Should men (or women) be presumed unable to sexually take advantage of underage females simply because they’re presumed to be LGBTQ affiliated or allied?
What’s more, if we’re trying to teach our little girls not to identify themselves in terms of their sexuality, why would we encourage them to dress their dolls in t-shirts that advocate a sexuality-based identity? Anyone who thinks LGBTQ is a safe haven in today’s sexually charged atmosphere apparently hasn’t read up on Kevin Spacey. When it comes to what Law & Order: SVU calls “especially heinous” crimes, no one is immune. Perhaps instead of simply parroting “love wins” we ought instead to be asking, “What price, love?” And should our little girls have to be paying it?