In my last posting, I wrote about Barbie as a cultural icon and the complications that creates for Mattel. In this article, I want to elaborate on what those complications are.
Barbie lives many lives; she is a product on a store shelf; she is a doll in a little girl’s bedroom; she is something boys are not supposed to play with; she is a body type impossible to achieve in real life; she is a southern California blonde beauty; she is a memory tucked away in the back of a closet and more.
If we think Barbie’s relationship with women and girls is complicated, imagine how complicated she is for Mattel. What do you do when you have created a product that people have imbued with powerful meaning? If you are Mattel, how do you manage someone's memory and emotions. In fact, more disconcertedly, how do you manage an idea; an adjective; a symbol, a totem?