Monday, March 28, 2005

Barbie & the Power of the Press.

Most days, I read at least a few other blogs, often those with a genealogical theme, like the Genealogy Blog.
Today, Leland Meitzler has a piece there about a new role for Mattel's Barbie.

She’s teaching U. S. A. history---well, a version of it---and a bit about the rest of the world. Her diaries from 1976 and 1964 have just been published as “Red, White, and Blue Jeans" and "Peace, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll."

Apparently, Barbie’s diaries didn’t turn out to look as her ghostwriter, Linda Lowery, intended. The story’s in yesterday’s Washington Post on-line.

Now it’s hard to think of Barbie as historically, let alone, politically correct, but I wonder how many people would know that in 1870 Barbie risked her dressmaking business to support Susan B. Anthony and women’s suffrage. Not many, I’d guess, but I have here on my shelf, The Front Window, a Grolier Special Edition book/doll set. Barbie wears an elegant, but “modest” dress, and holds in her hand an advertising card for Anthony’s The Power of the Ballot speech. (Somehow, Barbie’s figure doesn’t look quite so impossible in this costume.)

In The Front Window, when her town’s newspaper editor refuses to cover Susan B. Anthony’s visit, Barbie convinces Skipper to help her start another newspaper. Barbie won't be intimidated, and she’s even read Mary Wollstonecraft.

The townswomen don’t get the vote, but they do eventually get Main Street paved and a new roof and floors for the school, and Barbie gets a new job, as editor in chief of the local paper. The women shown in the book all look white, but there is a photograph of Sojourner Truth in this version of Barbie’s diary. Interestingly, though, the men voting at the town meeting aren’t all white.

I wonder if there were any later versions of this Barbie, perhaps depicted chaining herself to the White House fence?

See the Washington Post article, “The World According to Barbie” by Bob Thompson

For the Genealogy Blog,

No comments: