One of the most successful career women of the 21st century has finally gotten herself a LinkedIn account: Barbie. Considering her vast experience as an aerobics instructor, dentist, Spanish teacher, veterinarian, army officer, firefighter, photographer, cowgirl, and ambassador for world peace, to name a few, her resume is certainly extensive, and difficult to fit into the limited confines of a Linkedin profile. So, Barbie has reduced her legacy to the following description:
“I got my big break in 1959 to inspire girls to dream big. Since then I've had 150+ careers, but my true calling remains – encourage generations of girls to place no limitations on their ambitions.”
The LinkedIn account is one of the many strategies Mattel has used to promote their latest incarnation of the doll, Entrepreneur Barbie, which they created in collaboration with a team of “Chief Inspiration Officers” including Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code, Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss of Rent the Runway, and Deborah Jackson of Plum Alley. The doll comes with an a briefcase, a smartphone, a professional up-do, and a predictably pink dress.
Barbie’s LinkedIn account is the latest of the doll's appearances in the human realm – in February, she made her debut in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit addition, an event that scandalized journalists across the country.
Teresa Genaro of Forbes magazine, who was shocked to learn that the announcement came from the Associated Press rather than The Onion, begged the question: "Because what says 'great for the kids!' more than a couple of dozen mostly naked women in a magazine produced to titillate an adult male audience?"
Barbie’s appearance on the cover was supposedly justified by the fact that the issue's publication coincided with the American International Toy Fair in New York City. The shoot was part of Matell's #unapologetic campaign, the goal of which was to "empower fans to engage and celebrate all that makes them who they are," a Mattel spokeswoman said.
Needless to say, the cover of SI's swimsuit addition is the last thing I associate with a celebration of diverse body-types and female confidence.
What are we meant to deduce from Mattel’s marketing strategy? Barbie has always been a multi-tasker, so I am not surprised that she can find the time to pose in a bathing suit while perfecting her LinkedIn profile. This time, however, I have trouble buying the argument that Barbie is simply a do-it-all-kind of girl. Barbie's recent appearances seem to contradict each other, rehashing familiar debates over Barbie's dangerous influence on the development of little girls around the world.
Images: Mattel, Sports Illustrated