Unfeminist Barbie: From Food Restriction to Female Incompetence

Vintage Barbie

Barbie may not be the most feminist-friendly toy of modern day, but she sure has come a long way from when she first stepped onto the toy scene. Sure, her looks are still unattainable, but at least the food restriction Barbie accessories are now off the market.

In 1963, Mattel, Barbie’s maker, released Barbie accessories sold under the name, “Slumber Party.” The accessories in this Barbie kit included a pink nightgown and pajamas, and some rollers. Also: A book.

“Nice, a book,” you may be thinking. Well, contain your joy and get ready for it to transform into rage. Deep, dark, rage. The book the Barbie accessories came with was titled, “How to Lose Weight.”

Barbie likes pink and food restriction! How lovely!

And the book’s advice? About as good as its title. The book advises Barbie: “Don’t eat!”

Well, that’s a lovely message. The “gotta lose weight Barbie” also came with another accessory: A pink bathroom scale set at 110 pounds. Messy Nessy Chic reminds us that Barbie is supposed to be about 5 foot 9 inches tall. So, that “weight goal” would make Barbie about 35 pounds underweight. Cool. (You can own this gross bit of toy nostalgia for $125.)

While Barbie has definitely come a long way from selling weight loss accessory kits, the doll is still irking people. Just recently, Pamela Ribon, author and screenwriter, discovered a book called “Barbie: I can be a Computer Engineer,” that was originally published in 2010. The book starts out good: Barbie is designing a game for kids! But then, disaster strikes and Barbie needs the help of her male friends to save her from disaster. The dialogue, reports by NPR, is as follows:

“‘I’m only creating the design ideas,’ Barbie says, laughing. ‘I’ll need Steven’s and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game.’

Barbie then gets a virus on the computer, which then infects another computer, and the boys wind up fixing it for her:

‘After class, Barbie meets with Steven and Brian in the library.

‘Hi, guys,’ says Barbie. ‘I tried to send you my designs, but I ended up crashing my laptop — and Skipper’s, too! I need to get back the lost files and repair both of our laptops.’

‘It will go faster if Brian and I help,’ offers Steven.’”


Luckily, Mattel released an apology stating that this portrayal of Barbie doesn’t reflect the Brand’s idea of what Barbie stands for.

Here’s hoping that Barbie evolves more over the next few years.

Related on EcoSalon

No Green in Sight for Boomer Barbie

Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt: A Shift in the Barbie Paradigm

Break the Mold

Image: RomitaGirl67

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.