Last week I talked about my upcoming appearance at the Bath Festival, and now I am back and ready to tell all…
The Barbie crew: Neema, Marisa, Moira
The event was called ‘Barbie: Dumb Blonde or Diehard Feminist?’ and I was there to defend Barbie, with my long-time contention that she IS a feminist icon. Writer Neema Shah (whose novel Kololo Hill will be published in 2021) argued the other side, and journalist Marisa Bate was the chair.
In fact we weren’t too polemical, and the debate was very good-humoured, although we did discuss – and sometimes disagree on – a very large number of points. The audience were a delight, everyone in a good mood for a Sunday afternoon in Bath. We took a large number of questions from the audience, and very much covered as many aspects as possible, ranging widely into feminism (which we all agreed on), bringing up children, research on the psychology of toys, body shape…
Marisa was a marvellous chair, keeping the discussion moving along, and introducing great new ideas & research & history from her magic notebook at regular intervals.
We all talked about all aspects of Barbies, but Neema also used her own background to tell us about marketing and branding, and how they might affect manufacturer Mattel's thinking and planning.
I had brought along a few Barbies who decorated the stage nicely: Trailer Trash Barbie (not a real Mattel (tm) Barbie, I feel obliged to point out) was a particular success.
The whole event was an absolute joy to take part in, and I think left everyone there in a good mood.
And we were able to spend a weekend in Bath, one of the most beautiful of cities. Winners all round…
I’d like to thank Marisa and Neema for being my Barbie homegirls, Madeline Toye of the Bath Festival for bringing us all together for a fabulous event, and my entourage of wonderful friends, including my daughter, who happens to be called Barbara (coincidence? Who can say) who came along to support me. And to all the rest of the audience for being so interested and interesting.