Barbie for Boys: Progress or Gimmick?

This one is complicated. Mattel’s Barbie has entered into a partnership with Italian luxury goods designer Moschino to make exclusive Moschino-themed dolls. To announce the launch of the limited edition dolls, Moschino put out a commercial. In that commercial, they show a boy playing with Barbie right along side the girls.

I think this doesn’t do much for the majority of boys who are still likely to be uninterested in playing with ultra-feminine Barbie. The commercial relies almost exclusively on rigid gender stereotypes. Rather than moving towards more gender neutral imagery, they just included a boy that also embraces girl stereotypes. We also have some questions about whether it is a good idea to expose young girls (or boys) to the high-end consumerism of Italian fashion houses. While it does nothing to help the majority of girls and boys look beyond traditional gender roles, I suppose this commercial might mean a huge amount to a boy who identifies as female or just has a strong interest in fashion.

We remain highly suspicious of Barbie, but their recent wonderful girl-power commercial combined with this new attempt to break down gender barriers shows that they are at least exploring ideas in the right direction.

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John Marcotte

John Marcotte

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