I confess I loved Barbie. LOVED her. And all her friends – mod-hair Ken (though I never did understand the appeal of stick-on facial hair), little sister Skipper, and African-American friend (though I was Canadian and lived in a world of white faces) Christie. I had Barbie’s Porsche and tent-trailer. Her RV.

In fact, I still do, tucked away in a closet at the family cottage, where my own two daughters retrieve all-things-Barbie and indulge in hours of play with my childhood toys.

So my ambivalence about Barbie – and what she represents – surprises me. On some level, I was aware of Barbie’s impossible body shape, though I didn’t develop an eating disorder. Although, I shamefully admit to an unhealthy desire to be only infected with germs that render me nauseous and too weak to eat, in the hopes that I can drop five pounds while flat on my back. But that’s more the fault of laziness than Barbie.

I suppose, thanks to Barbie, I set my future employment standards high – fully anticipating a straight rise to fame and fortune as a writer (ha!) seeing as Barbie easily moved from rock star, to teacher, to astronaut on a marketer’s whim. And she could afford a Porsche. Clearly, for 70s-era girls, the world was our oyster.

And, of course, there was her Dream Home. No cat barf on the carpet. Grilled cheese mashed into the sofa cushions. Or unopened overdue bills on her desk. Must be a dream cause it sure ain’t my reality.

But honestly, is Barbie to blame? Perhaps my ambivalence owes not so much to what Barbie is…but what she’s not.

Barbie, as far as I know, has never attended a rally against climate change. Or signed a petition to keep gays from being incarcerated based on sexual orientation. Her material possessions show little signs of a conscience. For example, why doesn’t she decorate her Dream Home with fair-trade handicrafts? Nope, it’s all new. It’s flashy and toxic.

And her clothes. No second-hand threads for Barbie and friends. From faux-fur coats (in hot pink) to vinyl thigh-high boots, there’s not an eco-outfit in the closet. Organic cotton? Nope. Hemp? Ha!

And, of course, there’s Barbie herself, off-gassing (sorry Barbie…but it’s true) toxins to our tots, though more recent versions are ostensibly PVC-free. In the recent past, even Barbie’s pets have been implicated in leaching lead. But even the new renditions of Barbie can’t re-ignite my former loyalty. Unless.

Unless Mattel offers up Activist Barbie, who carries placards and stages sit-ins and preaches non-violence in a Ghandi-esque way. Who organizes donations to homeless shelters, marches in Take Back the Night events and donates her Porsche to charity. Perhaps then she’ll have a fan in me once more.

Leslie Garrett is a national award-winning journalist, author and editor, based near Toronto, Canada. She is the author of The Virtuous Consumer: Your Essential Shopping Guide for a Better, Kinder, Healthier World and she has also written a dozen children’s books, including a biography of renowned environmentalist David Suzuki and “EarthSmart”, a book for young children on protecting the environment.

Visit: http://www. virtuousconsumer. com/

Via:www.greenmuze. ??m

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