A Barbie Revolution: The Final Episode (5 of 5)

The Barbie Revolution was written by Iowa State student, Ashley Schmuecker.  Please leave your comments!

The public has had some pretty strong reactions to your revolution. Here is a statement from Mattel:

“The self-labeled ‘Barbie Revolutionary’ Mia Hunt has committed an act of domestic terrorism against the American way of life.  We cannot imagine the trauma little girls have been facing, walking into their favorite toy store, expecting to take home Barbie as they have known and loved her for nearly a century; only to find a Barbie that was mutilated and disfigured.  We regret that this terrible act of violence occurred, and have ordered the deformed Barbies to be disposed of, and have restocked the store. Now, little girls shopping at the toy store of Glenbrooke Mall will have the real Barbie back!”

What is your reaction to this statement? Do you believe you are a domestic terrorist?

I would not label myself as a ‘domestic terrorist’; it seems a bit explosive.  I prefer the label “revolutionary”.  That’s what we were trying to do.  Revolutionize the way American’s think about beauty and through an unlawful act we captured the public’s attention.  One that spoke directly to young girls.  Mattel is a corporation interested in protecting their profit, not the “American way of life”.  What is the American way of life anyway? You can’t base this fictional American ideal on the white, middle class, heterosexual, Christian; you end up with a mythical norm that is exploited by the media as a way to assure fearful white people their beloved country isn’t being taken over by diversity.

Barbie to me embodied this mythic norm and an unrealistic, unattainable standard of beauty.  Marketed to little girls, Barbie has always been a training tool for their exposure to and acceptance of anorexic models donning Versace and stumbling down the runway in six inch heels, and Hugh Hefner’s blonde boob jobs that speak, only to pander to men’s interests.  In my mind, Mattel is the domestic terrorist.


In contrast to Mattel’s statement, I wanted to conclude the interview with some fan mail…can you share with us what some of the women and girls saying?

Oh yes! The fan mail has been amazing.  Turns out, a bunch of people raided the trash bags to get their hands on our liberated Barbies.  People are sending in pictures with them, and even beginning to create their own.  I got a letter from an eight year old girl, who had gotten a hold of one of our Barbies.  Let me read a part of it here:

“Miss Mia, my mom gave me a Barbie you made.  She has lots of freckles all over her face and arms, and a big belly.  I got lots of freckles too, and my belly is a little bigger than some of the other girls’ bellies.  The other girls at school call me fat freckle-face.  One time, I asked them why they said those things to me and they said, ‘Cuz Barbie is skinny and she doesn’t have freckles; if you don’t look like her you can’t be in our club!’ Those girls didn’t look like Barbie either!  But, when I got my Barbie, I was so happy there was a doll who looked just like me. I took her to school and I showed her to the other girls and said ‘There is too a Barbie who has freckles and she has a big belly too, and we’re beautiful!’ My mom and I started making Barbies like yours for other girls in our town.  Thanks Miss Mia for making a Barbie doll just for me! Love, Jenny.”

Other letters that stuck out to me included those from a college girl who had survived an eating disorder and remade her Barbie into her own new and healthy image, a woman who decided not to get implants after she took one of the small breasted Barbies from the mall’s trash bin, women who have stopped waxing their body hair, and transgendered people who have bought Barbies or Ken dolls to go through their transformations with them, by changing the dolls simultaneously as they go through their own changes.  The support has been overwhelming.  There is a trend developing.  More and more people are beginning to salvage old Barbies and liberate those dolls to revolutionize the way beauty has been conceptualized and marketed to children. I plan to make a book out of all the letters and pictures I get in jail; I haven’t got anything else to do, so keep them coming!

Mattel has no idea the amount of people that have been craving for a new way to define beauty.  Imperfection is beautiful. The revolution that is growing is one that embraces imperfection, revels in diversity, and challenges us to linger over our reflections in the mirror; to look at the wrinkles, the moles, the sagging breasts, the crooked teeth, the thick thighs, the shaved head, and to say to ourselves: “Today, society will not dictate how I feel about myself. Not today, not tomorrow, or the day after that.  I am beautiful because I choose to love who I am, not who I am told I should be.”


About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on December 3, 2010, in Activism, Arts and Crafts, Body Image, Feminism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Ashley, thank you so much for writing this! Whenever I read it, I get goosebumps. It makes me want to go out and hold onto the six year old girls with round tummies and frizzy hair and affirm how beautiful, powerful and strong they are and how much they are capable of accomplishing.

    Thank you!

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