What hope does humanity have without Barbie and Ken?
It’s been two years since Barbie and Ken officially broke up back in February of 2004. After 43 wonderful years together, Barbie and Ken called it quits just two days before the second most stressful holiday of the year: Valentine’s Day. However, Mattel’s vice president of marketing, who was also the couple’s business manager, maintained that the two still cared deeply for each other and would “remain friends.”
Just months following this incredibly tragic headline-making breakup, Barbie announced her plan to run for the presidency of the United States. Undoubtedly Barbie’s new focus in life sent a positive message to girls around the world. The emphasis on leadership, community involvement, education, and following your dreams could not have been more blatantly communicated to consumers around the globe.
Mattel should be applauded for giving Barbie a new makeover that encourages girls to take the initiative to pursue their goals and reach for high levels of achievement, but there may be a downside to this seemingly positive marketing campaign. Especially in the current American society, where gender equality is an issue that is taken seriously, you would think that promoting women to be independent, assertive, and motivated individuals would be highly beneficial for society and young girls. Wrong.
What Mattel has failed to consider is that, given the high divorce rate in the United States, having Barbie and Ken break up and then having Barbie campaign for the presidency of the United States may have been one of the worst publicity stunts in the entire history of marketing. Not only does this reaffirm the idea that love does not conquer all, but it shows that even the most perfect romantic relationships will fail.
From the perspective of a young girl, the break-up of the perfect plastic couple may have changed her viewpoint on love, marriage, and relationships forever. What is a young girl to think when her parents break the news to her that Barbie and Ken, the picture-perfect couple, are no longer together?
Some may argue that Mattel is just following real-world trends involving our beloved Hollywood celebrities and their doomed romances (e.g. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey). Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the majority of Barbie lovers are young children who are still learning about their role in society. Do we really want to send the message to children that even the most perfect relationships are doomed for failure, and equip them with skepticism and distrust at such an early stage in life?
Instilling this pessimistic perspective so soon in a young girl’s life may be more detrimental to the female image than having Barbie parade around in her anorexic frame. Instead of teaching children about trust and love, the Barbie and Ken break-up accomplishes the exact opposite.
Girls learn that even the most harmonious relationships end in tragedy, and eventually grow up believing that working to build a successful relationship is a complete waste of time. Furthermore, in a society where fear of commitment is rampant, the Barbie and Ken break-up would further convince people that getting hurt is inevitable. This would subsequently create an entirely new population of commitment-phobic individuals.
Imagine a world where individuals did not converse with one another, and the idea of being in the same room as another human being was terrifying. People would live bleak lives with no human interaction whatsoever out of fear of getting “involved.” Given about 100 years, the entire human population would die out and vanish without a trace from the face of the universe. When this day arrives, we can place the blame on Barbie and Ken’s break-up.
It is always important to remember that one of the fundamental tenets to leading a fulfilling life is creating a balance between family and career. Barbie is essentially choosing her career over a wholesome family life. Not to say that all families are wholesome, but the truth of the matter is that Barbie will definitely miss out on a significant aspect of life.
As a renowned celebrity — the Queen of Plastic — who is approaching the halfway mark in life, Barbie seriously needs to re-evaluate her priorities. The choice to give up having a family life is made by many independent, successful, and highly motivated women in our society. Nonetheless, this lifestyle should not be projected as a social norm for our future generations.
Instead of having Barbie become a high-powered female leader who no longer needs a man in her life, Mattel should try to create a healthier model for girls to emulate as they grow up. Women should not have to be forced into making such an important decision at the expense of their personal growth and happiness. Moreover, if men are able to pursue both their personal and professional goals simultaneously, then women should be given the same opportunity. After all, life is about finding the perfect balance and being well-rounded.
If we want our children to find happiness in life, companies like Mattel should reconsider marketing strategies that overthrow our traditional values, and replace them with values that reflect trends in our current society. They may be realistic, but they are ultimately harmful to the healthy development of children and the institution of marriage.
So Mattel, I hope you get this memo. For the good of children around the world, and to further allow human existence to continue, please don’t take away our faith in there being such a thing as happily ever after. Thanks.