Feature

Banning Barbie

On Barbie's 50th birthday, reaction to a West Virginia proposal to ban sales of the buxom doll

“Let's give Barbie a break,” said the Chicago Tribune in an editorial. The iconic doll turns 50 today, and -- after piling up “more than 100 careers, including astronaut, surgeon, pilot, paleontologist, diplomat, and NASCAR driver” -- you’d think we would be able to get past the debate over whether the busty Barbie is an appropriate role model for young girls. “So what's up with West Virginia, trying to pass a law against Barbie?”

Virginia Delegate Jeff Eldridge, a Democrat, wants to ban the sale of “that promote physical beauty over education and achievement,” said the Toledo Blade in an editorial. Fine, let's renew the old debate over whether a doll that looks like a “large-chested caricature of a female sex object” hurts girls’ self-esteem -- but this is “the worst way to do it. Americans of all political stripes can see that if innocent amusements were ever banned in a fit of well-meaning political zeal, only the Taliban would be pleased.”

Even the mullahs in Iran have learned that banning Barbie is a losing battle, said Porochista Khakpour in The New York Times. The leaders in Tehran have singled out the blonde, Western beauty as “a national threat of Jane Fonda magnitude," but despite raids on stores that carried Barbie, yet “at three times the price, and mostly a black market moll, Barbie manages to reign supreme in the Islamic Republic.” So give up -- fighting Barbie is a losing battle.

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