Has anyone checked out the Barbie Web site recently? (Why do I think I might be alone on this?) “From fashion selection to vintage collection, she’s everything!” it says. “From urban teen to fantasy queen, she’s every girl! From surf and sand to fairyland, she’s everywhere!”
Barbie, says the tag line, is “more than a doll.” That’s for damn sure — those descriptions make it seem as if she has morphed from a plastic bimbo to an omnipresent, omnipotent god. (How can one explain her hip-to-waist ratio without some sort of divine intervention?) Could the Cult of Barbie be the new Scientology? I’ll leave it to you to discuss.
Anyway. The reason I was looking at the Barbie site was this, a post from the New York Times’ technology blog about a new eco-friendly line of Barbie products. Yup. According to Mattel’s press release, the “playful and on-trend” Barbie BCause accessory line “repurposes excess fabric and trimmings from other Barbie doll fashions and products which would otherwise be discarded.” The resulting product line is an opportunity for eco-conscious girls to make an “environmentally friendly fashion statement with cool, patchwork-style accessories” like handbags, hats, tote bags, pillows and diaries, “each featuring its own unique variations and kitschy patchwork details.”
My favorite part? A quote from a Mattel senior V.P. saying “we are thrilled to give extra meaning and extra style to what was once just extra Barbie doll fabric.” (Translation: We are thrilled to have an opportunity to make money off our trash.)
Now, I think it’s fine and good to figure out a way to recycle waste into profit. Why the hell not? But I also think it’s funny that Mattel has identified (probably correctly) that there is a target audience of young, fashion- and eco-conscious girls out there who would be psyched to point to their Barbie BCause hobo purses ($10.99 each) and say, “Oh yeah, this? It’s one part Beach Barbie, one part Bride, and all parts fabulous.”
I don’t know about you all, but I think the Barbie BCause product line sounds like a challenge. What are some other ways we could take an all-plastic doll, which comes in excessive plastic packaging, lives in a plastic house and has a plastic boyfriend, and make it more environmentally friendly? Maybe there could be compostable Barbies. Or Barbies with seeds implanted in their skulls — sort of like Chia pets — that you could bury in your yard. (A little bit of water and sun, and you’ve got yourself some alfalfa sprouts.) Suggestions?