Barbie, AIA

Okay, there is something that needs addressing on this blog and I must warn you that you may lose a few IQ points at the conclusion of this reading and if you are a fan of Barbie, you will probably never return to this blog:  Architect Barbie.  Apparently Mattel, maker of toys and perpetuators of eating disorders among young girls, has launched a program called:  “I Can Be” in which Barbie will be modeled into several categories of professional to encourage girls to pursue careers and give them a sneak peak into what wonderful possibilities lay ahead of them if they choose to have careers instead of….what?  I must stop here for a brief snarky moment and congratulate Mattel on entering the 21st century, apparently they have missed the last several decades as well as a few speeches by Gloria Steinem and the feminist movement in general, but I am glad they have caught up and realized that girls can have careers and are currently promoting this noble pursuit through Barbie….hmmmmm…this may be a step backwards.

The most recently voted profession for Barbie was architecture; and it was a hard-fought one because Mattel believed that anything having to do with the construction industry didn’t fit into the doll’s general image and iconic marketing.  I am supposing that Barbie would not like the long hours and low pay or site visits in high heels and a short skirt – I also find that exposed rebar can do a real number on a girl’s pantyhose.  Additionally, the architect’s salary may not afford her the newest Chanel bag or Manolo Blahniks and disseminating this information to young girls might cast a dim shadow over the profession.  Before Barbie was an architect, she was everything from a nurse to an astronaut and within the realm of the recent I Can Be campaign, she has transitioned through a job shadowing experience of dolphin trainer, movie star, lifeguard, pet vet, doctor, chef, computer engineer, teacher, ballet teacher, and ballerina.  So finally she is interning as an architect and the tagline for this professional endeavor is, “An architect designs buildings and makes sure they’re safe, sturdy and cool-looking.”  Definitely glad they mentioned the cool looking part, I was starting to question where this was going…

Professor of Architecture at the University of Buffalo, Despina Stratigakos, was the champion of Barbie becoming an architect.  She says of the promotion, “This is a powerful icon, and it does speak to little girls,” said Stratigakos, an assistant professor in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning. “We need role models.”  Huh, I agree;  we need someone to show young girls how to dress inappropriately in their profession and ooze sexuality on the job site.  Take Dr. Barbie, M.D., she is sporting an ultra short skirt and high heels and I believe that is the approved dress code in the ICU.  Couldn’t we just teach girls about real and respectable architects, perhaps broaden their horizons to see actual performers in the industry?  I guess Zaha would have better luck winning the girls over if she were blond, wore pink and had a disproportionately larger chest; may this be a lesson to all female architects.

But apart from Barbie being Barbie, sexy, disproportionate and blond as she is, I take issue with the blueprints she is carrying in the tube strapped on her back; I am pretty sure no one does that anymore, but leave it to Barbie to make blueprints look hot.  Also, she is carrying a hard hat, so at least when she trips and falls in the job site in her high healed boots, she won’t crack her head and let the air out.

And so, I give you Architect Barbie, who can probably also double for Consulting Engineer Barbie with a quick change of clothes and accessories.  I have to admit, I loathe the very idea of this, but if I ever have a daughter I am pretty sure she is going to want one of these and architect mommy is going to have to sew some more accurate outfits and hot glue some more accurate accessories.  Also, I would have to set the record straight:  Architect Barbie should be holding a cup of coffee, with dark circles under her eyes, and less fashionable clothes because she is still paying off her student loans.

The least they could have done is dress her in black…

Images courtesy of AIA and Mattel

    • EHaggles
    • May 24th, 2011

    I take exception to the comment that Architect Barbie could become Consulting Engineer Barbie with a few changes in the clothing. I’ll admit is is possible, I think it is very improbable that Barbie will be a consulting engineer. I’ve walked the halls of engineering school and, no offense meant to the one or two beautiful consulting mechanical, electrical or civil/structural engineering women out there. When we are all honest with ourselves we know that consulting engineers dress funny and are not the icon of fashion in a disproportionate body. Barbie would be kicked out of consulting engineering for being so fashionable – we cannot accept that level of fashion as it would ruin the stereotype that has made us who we are. And the disproportionate body would be rejected by the industry – it doesn’t make mathematical sense. Furthermore, the men of mechanical, electrical and civil engineering would have chased her away in college (which probably explains why the most attractive engineers were always in System Engineering or Chemical Engineering departments).

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