Is the Barbie Entrepreneur Career of the Year Doll lacking when it comes to “real entrepreneurship”?
Growing up, I had a vast collection of Barbie dolls. For me, playing with Barbie gave me the opportunity to use my imagination and create some interesting story lines. Living in the 80’s in Phoenix, Arizona, I was one of the few girls in my area to have both black and white Barbie dolls—but of course my parents wouldn’t have had it any other way. Fast forward to the present day, and my Chicklet is a huge Barbie fan as well. She has a collection of multi-ethnic Barbie dolls as well as a Barbie Townhouse and DreamHouse. I often play with her and we act out different scenarios with her dolls. They’ve been everything from chefs, to teachers, to airline pilots. That’s the awesome thing about Barbie—they can be whatever it is you want them to be.
This past February during the Toy Fair, Mattel introduced its 2014 Career of the Year Doll called Barbie Entrepreneur. The doll comes in four different “ethnicities”—Caucasian, Black, Latina, and Asian, and is dressed in a corporate-esque color-blocked pink and black sheath dress, black heels, with a black briefcase and pink clutch. Each doll’s hair is piled in a ponytail for, perhaps a more conservative look, and comes complete with entrepreneurial accessories: an iPhone and a tablet.
Yes, upon first look, the Barbie Entrepreneur Career of the Year Doll looks quite stereotypical. She’s slim, gorgeous, and is touting tools of the trade. I am an entrepreneur and look nothing like the doll (us start-up WAHM types are a different breed I suppose), but I don’t shudder at the look of her. Over the years, Barbie has been many of things—First Lady, and astronaut, a doctor, a supermodel, news anchor, and even a computer engineer. In the current environment of Shark Tank, incubators, and start-ups, I see nothing wrong with Barbie getting her entrepreneurial spirit on. Does she possess every outward quality that most women entrepreneurs have? Well, no. But she’s a doll. It is up to us to instill the creative spirit in our children so they can come up with their own perceptions of women entrepreneurship and girl power.
I would totally buy the Barbie Entrepreneur doll for my Chicklet if she wanted one. Why not? She isn’t the total package, but isn’t that the point? That we work what we have and build up from there? We all have to start somewhere.
I’ve been reading on the blogosphere how upset some women are at the Barbie Entrepreneur doll and her affront to women entrepreneurs everywhere. But in the doll marketplace, I don’t see many others creating career-based dolls so our girls can get in tuned to what they may want to be when they grow up. Barbie’s manufacturers have made plenty of mistakes over the years, but this one, isn’t one of them. I actually think the doll is quite fabulous—entrepreneurial spirit and all.
Photo credit: Forbes and Mattel