Barbie has gotten a lot of flack in recent years. Once a much-loved part of childhood play, the dolls have quickly become lambasted for promoting everything from gender stereotypes and body image issues to a lack of career ambition, as made clear in a recent study that revealed girls who play with the Barbies see themselves in fewer male-dominated occupations than those who play with a Mrs. Potato Head. Heck, Barbies have even become the scapegoat for bad behavior. Just last week, a little girl swore Barbie forced her to paint the carpet with nail polish.
It seems, however, Barbie-maker Mattel is ready to turn things around with an empowering ad campaign titled "Imagine the Possibilities."
In the two-minute commercial, hidden cameras capture five girls pretending to be professionals in real-life settings. One girl is a college professor, teaching a real group of students about the brain. Another is a soccer coach, instructing her confused team of male athletes to kick those "knees up like a unicorn!" Others play veterinarians, jet-setting businesswomen, and tour guides — all to unsuspecting adults who find the whole encounter adorable.
And it really is! When the pantsuit-clad girl chats on her cell phone in an airport terminal, saying she had "the most fantastic day in the office," our hearts just melted.
The franchise's mission to return to its roots of open-play and self-discovery is clear, and even though the ad's tag line — "When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become" — might be a bit optimistic, we're willing to hold out hope it's true.
Because who wouldn't want to take a tour through the Natural History Museum with that little girl?