When I was a child in the 80’s, Barbie was my life. I would disappear for hours upon hours inventing stories, dreaming, and escaping to another world with Barbie in hand. With all the technology and advances in toys today, it’s refreshing to see that little girls are still playing with Barbie the same way: by using their imaginations. Yes, she has a bad reputation. Her body represents a character on Baywatch than it reflects some of the leading women we know and aspire to today. But I bet Hilary Clinton, Oprah, and Angelina Jolie all played with Barbie at some point too.
To restore Barbie’s image, Mattel launched a social-led program, “The Barbie Project,” designed to show the world how kids interact with the iconic doll. Parents are encouraged to share stories of their children playing with Barbie. Each story unveils different worlds in which kids unfurl their imaginations. Watch and see her as a superhero, a teacher, a baseball player, a rock star, a pet shop owner, a ballerina, and more. All of it parent-approved and encouraged.
This is a simple approach to dealing with decades of negativity around Barbie’s influence on youth. Will it work? It will be interesting to see if the positive chatter begins to outweigh the negative. Is real conversation and storytelling enough to keep Barbie ticking for another 55 years?
The core of the program is on Tumblr, with links to other social outlets: http://barbie.tumblr.com