Monday, February 21, 2011

Um...Architect Barbie?

Architect Barbie

By now, I'm sure many if not all of you have seen Mattel's new "Architect Barbie", the latest role model in the "I Can Be..." series from the Barbie brand, developed in conjunction with the AIA. I greet this new doll with mixed feelings. To be fair, I had Barbies growing up, but I never thought that I should be thin, tall, and busty like Barbie. My sister and I mostly enjoyed taking our Barbies outside and throw them in the air, trying to hit the high-tension power lines that ran over a corner of our front yard. Which probably explains a lot about me now...but I digress. I'm annoyed because I, like many of my architect colleagues who have seen this photo, immediately zoomed in on how site-visit-inappropriate her outfit is. I do appreciate the fact that they included a real-looking hard hat, and I'm highly-amused by the nerdcore glasses perched on her elegantly-coiffed head. However, you really want to cover your legs on a jobsite, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to wear those boots either (they're liable to get scuffed up or damaged on a jobsite, unless maybe it was an interior renovation project...but again I digress). I'm annoyed at the pink drawing tube, as well. Look, I was goobery enough to wear a Huey Lewis t-shirt in a non-ironic way in college and grad school, but I'm betting that any woman architect would probably not want to tote around a hot pink drawing tube. Why? Because I'm not seven years old, and besides, I don't need something to re-emphasize that I'm a girl to my (mostly male) contractors.

But of course, this doll wasn't made for me, it was in fact made for seven-year-old girls. And perhaps by seeing this, the thought might cross some young girl's mind that she can be an architect just as easily as she could be anything else when she grew up. And I, like my colleagues, are examining Barbie's outfit so closely only because we don't have any of her work to scrutinize. Other comments from my colleagues upon seeing Architect Barbie:

So what do y'all think about Architect Barbie? Approved? Approved with Revisions? Revise and Resubmit?


  1. "The company also notes in its message that it consulted with the AIA to keep the doll ‘authentic to the career.’"
    Uhm, I'm not really sure that Architect Barbie is very serious about her career... her lack of professional clothing is a tip-off (would you like a hard hat with your dainty dress and high heels? It will protect your hair!).
    If she's serious about her career and possibly even having her own firm, she may have trouble keeping her business afloat during this (and any) economy due to her abusive use of pink in her work (or what we've seen of it). Where is your portfolio, Architect Barbie?

    Barbie may have tons of career options but the problem is that she doesn't work for any of them! She puts on an OUTFIT and becomes a doctor, firefighter, astronaut, vet, architect; you name it. Any real-world career takes years of hard work, and Barbie just doesn't teach that to young girls.

  2. Cait: I love you. I think you've hit on the problem with Barbie in the 21st century. Clothing only makes the (wo)man to a certain extent--at some point, you have to BE the (wo)man. It's fun to play dress-up, but you actually have to *do* stuff when you play House, or Doctor, or Firefighter, or whatever. Why is there not a CD-ROM with Architect Barbie that allows you do design a house (maybe a tie-in with Sketch-Up!), or shows an Architect Barbie (or hell, even an Architect Midge at this point) on the site, talking with clients, etc.?

    Seriously, Cait, I love you. And I'm going to steal the phrase "abusive use of pink". Your observation points out the problem with all of the "I Can Be..." series. The only career that can be made by just changing clothes is modeling.

  3. I just love how her hard hat is magically attached to her hip!