I am in Bath this weekend to take part in the truly excellent
I am taking part in an event (3.30pm on Sunday 26th May) to discuss whether Barbies are dumb blondes or feminist icons.
The answer is, of course: feminist icon.
Whatever your views, you cannot argue with the universally-understood place of Barbies in the world.
I have written about them before: in the Guardian here, and in the US political magazine Slate here - an article mentioned in the Columbia Journalism Review as having shown that Slate was obviously going in a 'new direction', and not concentrating on politics so much anymore. Or, as I took them to mean, ‘single-handedly took the magazine dowmarket’.
On the blog, a wonderful character called Killer Barbiefeatured in an entry on the Todd McEwen book Five Simple Machines.
I said then: McEwen has, impressively, got the big but often under-appreciated point about the dolls: originally they were not princesses or dressed in pink ballgowns – they were hard-edged career girls in the Joan Crawford mould, with a wardrobe to match. Not so much anymore, which is a shame.her stripy swimsuit, swept-up hair smelling of Kent cigarettes, her f-me-or-go-to-hell eyes, killer legs, killer mules…
I came across these excellent pictures of Barbie knitting patterns (proving my point that you don’t have to buy expensive official merchandise)
and actually then found a book to match the photos, I was so keen to use ski-sweater-Barbie. (The Will and the Deed, a skiing murder story by Ellis Peters.)
The admirable Tana French has this great line in her book The Trespasser:
Anyone who turns herself into Barbie because that’s the only way she feels worthwhile needs a kick up the hole, but someone who does it for a revenge mission deserves a few points for determination.
When I was looking for a ‘poinsettia dress’ to illustrate an Agatha Christie short story, Barbie came up trumps.
If you are in Bath at the weekend, do come along to the event, and say hello.