Fashion Friday: I’m a Barbie Girl in a Biking World

07 Sep

Poor Barbie. For someone who smiles all the time, she annoys a lot of people. Despite an impressive career starting with astronaut in 1965 to surgeon to Army ranger to presidential candidate, she’s criticized as a bad role model. Like many females, she gets the most criticism for her fashion choices and for her figure.

But not from me. I’ve been a fan since I got my first Barbie, a red-headed Stacey I plucked out of a shelf full of blonde Barbies for my 6th birthday. I liked dressing her up for different occasions: a swimsuit for the beach, an evening gown for a formal party, a spunky mini-skirt for hanging out with friends. My sister Lucy and I would sew little outfits and craft little accessories for her, from silver plates and goblets out of foil to balsa wood furniture.

Our budgets didn’t allow Barbie to get her Dream House or own a Barbie convertible. Nor did she get a bike, like the 1970s 10-speed I saw on eBay and had to buy, especially since it was yellow, not Barbie pink. Next thing I knew I’m at Target buying not one, but two Barbies with bicycles that the dolls can actually pedal.

Ruth Handler, Barbie’s creator and co-founder of Mattel, said that Barbie appeals to girls because she lets them imagine being adult women. That makes sense to me. It’s like putting on mom’s dress and heels and prancing around the room. Barbie’s exaggerated features are caricatures of women, just like GI Joe is for men or Cabbage Patch dolls are for babies. They don’t look much like the real deal, but they make sense to a kid.

Next week I’m headed to Long Beach for the National Women’s Bicycling Summit. I’ll get to meet lots of women who are passionate about bikes, discuss critical issues like how to get more women and girls bicycling, and hopefully ride around sunny SoCal on beach cruisers with my new friends. My Barbies would be jealous.

Were you a Barbie girl or did you prefer other toys? Would it bother you if Barbie were your child’s favorite toy?


Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Cycle Fashions, Women & Bikes


12 responses to “Fashion Friday: I’m a Barbie Girl in a Biking World

  1. georgie o

    September 8, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Now all they need is a Barbie on a Fixie! 😉

    • ladyfleur

      September 8, 2012 at 7:55 am

      The Barbie bikes look like cruisers, but they are brakeless fixies in disguise. Take that, Premium Rush!

  2. Robin

    September 8, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I grew up with lots of ‘hand me down’ barbies from my older cousins and they were 50’s barbies with bouffant hair dos and stiff arms and legs-so I hated them! (How I WISH I had them now!)
    My daughter has only recently embraced Barbies, at age13-but she mainly enjoys creating their furniture, food, clothes and a house complete with two bathrooms.
    She has asked for the Presidential Barbie for Xmas.

    • ladyfleur

      September 9, 2012 at 8:21 am

      I played with my older sisters “hand me down” bubble-cut Barbies too. The hair was almost as stiff as their legs! But I think it made me appreciate my red-headed Stacey even more.

  3. Jeff

    September 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Your bicycle Barbies aren’t setting a good example… only little Chelsea is wearing her helmet.

    • ladyfleur

      September 9, 2012 at 8:19 am

      Like me, the Barbies didn’t want to wear their helmets for the photos. But you’ll see from this video that when they ride, they play it safe by wearing helmets.

  4. babble on

    September 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    I’m a barbie girl through and through. One of the mums at my son’s school calls me Barbie cause of my penchant for wearing pretty clothes and great heels, but I just try to honour my inner seven year old…

  5. storiteller

    January 25, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve never been a big Barbie fan, but I love that they show her riding in fashionable clothes. The tag-a-long is especially charming! Now they just need a cargo or box bike…

    • ladyfleur

      January 25, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I was pleasantly surprised by the tag-a-long trailer too. But I’m not surprised by the fashions. I can’t see little girls being attracted to the traditional Lycra bike wear.

  6. Sandy (@SandyYatesUK)

    September 22, 2015 at 1:56 am

    I personally was never a doll person even way back in the 50s. But my Daughter and one of my Granddaughters loved their Barbies. My Granddaughter had both of her under the bed drawers full of Barbie and her clothes, horse, car and whatever else she could get people to buy for her.

    I’ve never understood the fuss some people make about Barbie giving the wrong impression to little girls. I find that insulting to the intelligence of girls, and boys, that want to play with them.

    When I think of the hours of joy she gave to my Daughter and Granddaughters, I say WTG Barbie.


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