Holy smokes. Barbie has done it again. Just a few weeks after getting a big thumbs-up from parents for its girl power Imagine the Possibilities ad, toy maker Mattel has introduced another progressive commercial, this time for its Moschino Barbie.
The video stars a lineup of ethnically diverse little girls… and a little boy with a Mohawk and a penchant for playing with dolls.
Fierce indeed! The commercial anyway…
It’s taken way too long to get here, but mark 2015 down as the first time a little boy has been shown in a major toymaker’s doll marketing campaign. Gender stereotype busted?
Probably not (more on that below). But at the very least it’s a little bit battered.
The comments on the Moschino YouTube release of its new ad are not surprisingly mixed, with some folks deriding the company’s decision to put a boy in an ad that shows off “girl” toys (their words), and others going so far as to blame the company for turning boys gay.
But then there are comments like this one, which really cut right to the heart of why it is we need to show little boys in ads for dolls:
This almost made me cry! I used to play with my sister’s Barbies and felt such shame afterward. I’m so glad we can just let kids be kids. Thank you for this! Boys like dolls too!
When we leave the boys out of this conversation, we aren’t just telling our girls that they’re not equal to boys. We’re telling our boys that the things that they like and the desires that make them “them” are unnatural. We make them feel ashamed of just being kids who want to play with something fun.
Clearly we have a long way to go, but the Moschino Barbie ad is a big shot in the arm for the parents of little boys who have seen the pendulum swing toward greater acceptance of little girls liking so-called boy things and asked, “When will it be our son’s turn?”
Naturally we need more acceptance for girls who want to explore STEM and get dirty, but we also need to give our sons more opportunities to do the opposite, if that’s what they desire. That’s what real equality is, after all. It’s not just giving one gender more freedom. It’s letting all kids have freedom of choice and expression.
Of course, the limited-edition Moschino Barbie doll may not be for every little boy — or girl — as it’s retailing for a pricey $150 (and already popping up on eBay for three to four times that), but we have to start somewhere.