Five Ways Barbie at 50 Is Worse than Regular Barbie — By the Daughter of a Real-Life Barbie

Standard Barbie was bad enough, a femme-bot with human-scale measurements of 39–18–33. She stood en pointe, feet molded for high heels (human scale size 3 with eight inch spikes).

In my generation, there was no career-related Barbie, like Barbie astronaut.

There was only bride Barbie, ski Barbie, and hippie Barbie, etc. Barbie, a fashion doll in concept, was all about the clothes.

I didn’t think there was a way to make Barbie worse. Then came Barbie at 50.

In the image shared around Facebook, Barbie sits on a couch next to a bucket of popcorn, smoking weed. Her boobs sag. Her belly paunches. She sports puerile pony tails. Barbie’s indomitable fashion sense has gone out the window. She’s wearing a clingy housedress that looks as if sourced from Walmart. Still wearing heels, though.

Astoundingly, Barbie at 50 was circulated by my female friends. I must have seen her shared ten times.

Here are the five implicit messages of Barbie at 50 making her even more sexist than normal Barbie.

  1. A woman’s age decreases her value

Older people, especially women, face incredible disrespect from our culture. Over the hill, fat, dopey. That’s what you get when you get older. The sexiest woman alive has no chance. A woman who’s not young and pretty anymore is worthy of mockery.

2. Weight gain is the inevitable doom of older women

We all know plenty of overweight young people. I know women who stayed the same weight after menopause, who gained weight and who lost weight.

In this latter category are a bunch of gals who, after shipping everyone off to college, finally had time to exercise and eat healthier food.

Mayo Clinic tells us that extra pounds are not inevitable.

3. Beauty is only for the young

I give you Christine Lagarde.

4. Beauty is the most important metric by which women are judged

I am the daughter of an actual fashion model — a real-life Barbie who was on magazine covers all throughout the 1950s.

Patsy Shally — My Mom

I’ve thought a lot over the years about beauty and worth — since my mother was a woman for whom the two concepts were literally connected. Her beauty lifted her out of Irish immigrant poverty and put her siblings through college. (Mom is still gorgeous, by the way. See #3 above).

For the rest of us, the connection between beauty and worth is more psychological and also moral. In our cultural myths, that which is lovely (beautiful princess) stands for the good. That which is ugly (long-nosed witch) symbolizes the bad.

Here’s another piece of ancient wisdom: It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Put that in your pipe and toke it.

4. Beauty may be temporary, but heels are forever.

Things may be looking grim for menopausal Barbie. She may be old, fat, stoned and in a Walmart dress, but she’s still got her shoes.

The moral: No matter what the occasion, gals, moon landing or moon pie, keep on keeping on with the heels.

I wonder why Barbie at 50 was so gleefully shared by so many women. Maybe it’s as simple as schadenfreude. Her unreal standard of beauty so overshadowed our girlhoods we’re eager to gloat over Barbie going to seed. Another horrible female stereotype: We like to see each other fail.

Barbie has reached a new low. Now she’s not only sexist and disrespectful. She’s bringing out the worst in us.

Tech expert, novelist, and essay writer with an ticklish funny bone. My novel, “Greedy Heart,” is First Best Book Finalist in the VIVIAN Awards.

Tech expert, novelist, and essay writer with an ticklish funny bone. My novel, “Greedy Heart,” is First Best Book Finalist in the VIVIAN Awards.