West Virginia State Representative, Jeff Eldridge, has too much time on his hands.  He has proposed banning Barbie from sale in West Virginia because he believes that Barbie, because of her curves and acquisition habits, promotes an unrealistic view of the female body and a form of materialism at the expense of intellectual and emotional development.

I wonder if Eldridge is aware that the only other place in the world that is considering a similar ban is Iran.  So does that make West Virginia a harborer of terrorists?

I guess he never bought his daughter Astronaut Barbie or Doctor Barbie.  I wonder what he thinks about sports figures, politicians, financial “wizards” who lie and cheat.  Why can’t they be banned too?

Andrew Malcolm in the LA Times wonders “how exactly do you suppose a toy maker would design a doll to look smart?  If the Eldridge bill passes and West Virginians cross over to Ohio to purchase a Barbie doll, would they be violating this man’s act to bring her back across state lines?

This attempt at “protecting” our girls from unrealistic expectations seems a bit overblown.  Many generations of successful, competent women (myself included, and I’ve got an MBA) grew up with Barbie as one of their dollhouse occupants.  She represented a certain kind of aspiration it’s true, but she grew along with us.  As we moved out into the bigger world, into professions that had spurned a female voice for decades like the law, medicine and the construction trades, Barbie picked up her brief case, grabbed her stethscope and pink hard hat and went with us. 

I can’t help but wonder what makes Eldrige an expert on how Barbie affects the self-image of girls.  Sure there are plenty of folks that feel Barbie has a negative affect on impressionable pre-teens, but I look around me at all the other role models available to girls, beautiful, strong, competent, intelligent women and would hope that their influence has a stronger magnetic pull.

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