Does Mattel Sock It To Us With Goldie Hawn Barbie?

Speaking of flags painted on Goldie Hawn’s body on Laugh-In


To celebrate Barbie’s 50th anniversary, Mattel’s 2009 Barbie Doll releases feature a number of iconic retro doll re-do’s & celebrity dolls — including a very accurate version of Goldie Hawn as seen on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Look at the incredibly detailed reproduction of Goldie’s bikini & body painted tattoos, as seen in 1968:


Part of the Blonde Ambition Collection (officially said to be available July 1st, the Goldie Hawn Barbie is available now at eBay, Amazon, and a few select doll retailers), Goldie joins Marilyn Monroe as a vinyl delight for collectors.

And this doesn’t offend me in the slightest.

In fact, I want one.

While Babs has often been cursed as the vinyl bringer of doom, providing body image issues to little girls everywhere, I don’t have a problem with a pop culture history reproduction. And it’s not because I’m a collector &/or that Barbie’s boobs have been reduced for the Goldie version.

First of all, the Goldie Hawn Blonde Ambition Barbie is for adults; not kids.

Kids should not be given a doll they do not understand (and that includes the societal context of the times she comes from). Kids also shouldn’t reduce a $40-50 doll to garbage; and let’s face it, Goldie’s tats, understood or not, would be abraded away with childhood play.

We adults already know of Goldie & the cultural context of the time. Our body image issues, however affected & formed, are also our own responsibilities; we are old enough to say to ourselves and the world, “I’m a woman, I look like this, and I’m happy with it.” Or not, as the individual case may be. (And then we should seek help for our own issues, no matter how they were formed; finger pointing alone won’t help us love our bodies or keep them healthy.)

Second of all, as a feminist, I have a long and deep relationship with Barbie.

I played with Barbie as a young girl. And, while my sister thinks it’s so hysterical that she tries to embarrass me with this fact, I have no problems admitting it: I played with Barbies until I was 16. I loved to take pretty vintage handkerchiefs & other bits of fabric and pin them on my dolls, then pose them in little vignettes with the Barbie accessories, in the garden, etc. I was exploring visually, creatively with the tools I had at the time. I couldn’t sew; so I pinned on the fabric. I didn’t have a real camera (and the means to pay for all that film & developing); so I created scenes & literally used my hands to frame the images I’d capture in my mind’s eye — reconstructing, reposing, redressing, until I saw what I wanted.

I could be odd — and this may not be the “most normal” Barbie play; but then, when I see other kids playing with fashion dolls, I see quite a bit of that too… I don’t think my “oddness” stems from how I played — or how long I played — with fashion dolls.

Of course, as I got older I became suspicious of Bab’s and her figure. This was further complicated by media images, feminist discussion, and the fact that I looked far more like Barbie than most of my friends & family did…

I noticed that in books, films, television shows, etc., that the voluptuous women were most often the “evil” ones. We big-busted women were depicted as “man traps” and were not to be liked or trusted by other women either. Our assets were too compelling. We were competition. Our looks garnered looks — and the whole thing was diabolically unnatural (even when it was all so completely natural). It was bad, we were sinful; therefore we were The Enemy.

It was saddening, maddening.

But it wasn’t Barbie’s fault. It wasn’t even Mattel’s fault.

As a society we were sold on beauty & sex appeal, no matter how realistic or not the standards are; but if you dare to have it (and this was something deemed & defined by others, it was not even necessary for it to be exhibited or used by yourself), you were viewed suspiciously… Punished, ostracized.

But it wasn’t something a plastic doll did. And the only reason Mattel and others could sell it was because our culture greedily consumed it. And then made weird judgments about it. WTF.

While some blame Barbie for unrealistic body image, others condemn the doll, her world and her friends for an insipid, unrealistic, & exaggerated sense of romance; I find she exposes even more about our twisted cultural values & expectations. Barbie is a useful tool.

This relationship with Barbie is one I’m still trying to figure out… And the commercial processing of more dolls, how the marketplace reacts to them, and the resulting opines of others could all just get me closer to some better understanding.

Besides, if I don’t like Barbie, I don’t have to buy her — for myself or anyone else. What’s more, I can let her coexist in this world without buying her ideals either.


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