Should Barbie die?

Before you destroy her, think of your life without her.

By Sarah Goldstein

Published June 22, 2006 9:06PM (EDT)

An Op-Ed in today's Los Angeles Times put a hit on Barbie. That's right, columnist Patt Morrison wants to take out Mattel's 46-year-old icon. It's not that she's offended by the doll's absurd image per se, it's more that in Barbie's nth-incarnation Morrison feels enough is enough. Or as she puts it, "I come to bury Barbie, not to praise her. Barbie's flat-lining. She's been through reinventions and reincarnations and re-imaginings. Now it's time for decommissioning America's doll."

But is it?

Barbie, Morrison writes, "is one of only 34 toys in the National Toy Hall of Fame, right between alphabet blocks and the bicycle. She's had one hell of a run. Her shape is as recognizable as the Coke bottle. She could symbolize anything you want her to -- couture culture, slavering consumerism, a fetishistic youth-and-boobs society. She has become a publicly traded commodity, like gold and pork bellies. Collectors don't regard her as a toy but as a plastic T-bill, to be locked away and cashed in at the right moment."

The Barbie hating was inspired by Mattel executive Neil Friedman's announcement that he is on a "quest to put the wow back in Barbie." But Morrison feels that it is "better to euthanize  the doll than subject us to another fanciful makeover."

Is it not a cherished part of American girlhood to dote on, dress up, play sex with and then eventually torture Barbie with scissors and light bulbs? Could an American girlhood be complete without this important lesson in love, accessories and the eventual destruction -- and later deconstruction -- of her anatomically impossible body? So to Patt Morrison I say, before you take her out, consider the kids.

Sarah Goldstein

Sarah Goldstein is an editorial fellow at Salon.

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