Charita Goshay: Measuring up to Barbie is least of women's worries

Charita Goshay

If I lived in West Virginia, I might be annoyed that my tax dollars were covering a paycheck for someone like Jeff Eldridge.

He’s the state House of Delegates Democrat who proposed a bill banning the sale of Barbie dolls, his argument being that Barbie’s image places too much pressure on girls to be thin and pretty.

Now, is it fair that a woman’s value often is based on how she looks, while men are required only to clean or be able to eat with a fork?

Is it right that a woman is supposed to have the kind of beauty that could stop a bar fight, while a Hugh Hefner — who is really old enough now for pajamas — can shack up with 19-year-old twins?

No. But by the time you’re 10 or so, you realize Barbie is a fantasy. You get that real women don’t have gravity-proof bustlines or waistlines that defy physiology, and that they can’t afford a Malibu beach house on a ballerina’s salary.

Even that young, I understood that real beauty and glamour were found among the women in my own life.

Interestingly, Eldridge is not railing that G.I. Joe puts too much pressure on boys to become flat-bellied mercenaries. His crusade smacks a little of sexism because it suggests that girls are more susceptible than boys who collect muscle-bound, freak-of-nature “action figures.”

If Eldridge really was concerned about girls, he’d be clamoring not to dump Barbie but rather for more opportunity in a state where 22 percent of children and 20 percent of women live in poverty.

Were Barbie ever remade to resemble a real woman, she’d be making less than Ken, even if she had the same level of education.

She likely wouldn’t be sitting at the head of a board room table.

She’d have a 1-in-2 chance of being divorced and might be working two jobs to cover day-care costs.

She’d be sleep-deprived and stretched too thin.

Since she’s turning 50 this week, she’d also be hot one minute and freezing the next. She’d have the concentration of a gnat, the metabolism of a slug and the patience of a gunslinger.

What kid wants that kind of play date?

There are women who use their looks to get by, but that’s been going on since Samson fell for Delilah. Getting rid of Barbie won’t change that.

In going after Barbie, Eldridge misses the point. The Barbie who dumped Ken in 2004 for, well, being Ken, is not the vapid blonde of 50 years ago, when a woman’s career was viewed as little more than playing out the clock until she snagged herself a husband.

Barbie now comes in 50 nationalities. She has 11 skin tones. She’s black, Hispanic and Asian. Today, she’s a doctor, lawyer, astronaut, politician, princess, pilot, wheelchair-bound and yes, even a fashion plate.

Thanks in part to Barbie, little girls now take limitless possibility for granted. In theory at least, Barbie is how America should look.

Contact Charita Goshay at charita.goshay@cantonrep.com