For the majority of Barbie’s existence, she has been pointed to as a symbol of how traditional sexist values are marketed to youth. And while these claims about Barbie and Mattel have certainly not been without merit—take, for instance, her absurd proportions, which propagate unattainable “ideal” body standards, or her decades-long reliance on Ken—the brands, much like society at large, have been working to become more inclusive and empowering to young girls and boys alike.
In the past few months, Barbie released a commercial titled “Imagine the Possibilities,” which put young girls in their dream professions. And through the introduction of Hello Barbie, the icon finally got her own voice (literally). With the ability to remember and reference information about the child who plays with it, Hello Barbie seemed promising, and we hoped that she would become a good reference point and companion for young girls and boys. Unfortunately, it seems, Hello Barbie isn’t quite as advanced or progressive as one would have imagined her to be under the company’s new agenda.
In a video by BuzzFeed, grown women sat down with the doll to ask her questions about feminism, like whether women can have it all and what she thinks about the wage gap and Sheryl Sandberg. Instead of giving thoughtful answers, which she probably could have been designed to do, seeing as she is constantly connected to WiFi and therefore capable of being a physical manifestation of Siri, Barbie just asked questions about breakfast, waxed poetic about how she sometimes dances for “no reason at all,” spoke about the anxiety that comes along with revealing her middle name, and insisted that she wanted to talk about fashion.
Perhaps Mattel will put a little more thought and care into the next generation of Hello Barbie. But if not, GoldieBlox probably will.