I read an article this week, ‘At 50, Ken is Sexy Again‘, from Time.

It reminded me of my fascination with Barbie since I was at university doing gender studies. As a child I wanted a Barbie and thought of her as a fashion icon, like most little girls. As an adolescent I hated Barbie because she seemed so impossibly perfect. At university I began to explore the significance of her as an icon and the message she sent out to women all over the world.

Traveling in Nepal in 2000 I stayed with a Nepalese family in Kathmandu; and when I asked their 12-year old daughter what I could send her from South Africa, by way of thanks, she asked that I send her a Barbie. This was when I realised the extent of her global impact; and to my amazement I learned that there is a Barbie doll sold somewhere in the world every 21 seconds.

Barbie is the ultimate all-American bombshell, who not only has a quite literally impossibly perfect figure, but also appears materially successful and extraordinarily accomplished in everything from equine activities to water sports. How are us real women ever supposed to live up to all that? And yet, despite this, her presence lives on from generation to generation.

What is interesting to me now is how Barbie (and Ken) are these real (plastic) toys that carry so much significance in terms of the growing merging of reality and fiction that soap operas, reality TV shows; and increasingly, social media now affords us.

In August Ken signed up for Twitter, emerging as a tech-savvy bachelor tweeting about sports (he’s a Dodgers fan), weekend plans and even his new iPad. His new Facebook page got more than 40,000 likes. And so he did what any recently empowered social(network)ite would do: He used his digital following to get what he wanted: Barbie.

I wasn’t sure how to respond to the Time article (and that in itself is worrying) because I found myself feeling almost concerned for Barbie that she may have had difficulties in her relationship with her Australian surfer boy who she got together with in 2004, a story I followed in the newspaper at the time. I remember back then feeling completely mildly upset and almost disappointed that not even Barbie could maintain a relationship. So having got used to the idea that Barbie was with Blane ( I think that was his name?) I now discover she is back with Ken. I have to say I am pleased that she has found her way back to Ken. After all Barbie and Ken are just meant to be together. This is starting to feel a little like Ridge and Brooke in The Bold and the Beautiful.

See what I mean? I often consider myself on the peripheries of the framework of popular culture and yet I am totally sucked in. Is it Barbie, or the power of the media, all sorts?
Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/02/19/at-50-ken-is-sexy-again-and-back-with-barbie/#ixzz1EbkKPQBE

TomorrowToday Global