Oh, Barbie. The now 55-year-old lady who’s held more than 150 “jobs” and has been?on the receiving end of ten times that many attacks from feminist and positive body image promoting groups is at it again. Only this time, she doesn’t have a new job. After being an astronaut, deep sea explorer, and presidential candidate just to name a few;?there isn’t much left to choose from in terms of a conventional career. Instead, she’s decided to do her own thing and become an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship is something that’s near and dear to me, obviously, since I also chose that route after years of feeling unfulfilled in corporate America. So when I got my Barbie Collector catalog (yes, I get that catalog) in the mail and saw Entrepreneur Barbie I was both pleased and intrigued. I was pleased because, well, I’m not an astronaut, so I could relate to this Barbie. But I was intrigued because I knew this would spark yet another stream of debates in conventional and social media about whether this latest incarnation is a step in the “right” direction for women, or is it sending us right back to the 1950s.
Overall, the media views Entrepreneur Barbie in a negative way.
Mattel put a good deal of thought into the development of Entrepreneur Barbie. These efforts included assembling a team of eight real-life female entrepreneurs to serve as chief inspiration officers” to the project and share their thoughts on how today’s female entrepreneur should be portrayed.
Criticism is nothing new to Barbie, and I’m sure by now she’s developed a rather tough skin, which is a good thing since most of the articles I read about this latest version haven’t been supportive. A recent article on CNN.com shows how though the team behind this project intended to spread the message of a confident, tech savvy woman who’s going after her dreams. However?others disagree, stating?that?“Entrepreneur Barbie is modern woman with her smartphone and her tablet stuck in a sexist, outdated, dangerous representation of femininity.” This, of course pertains to her anatomic proportions (which aren’t realistic, though they are much more realistic now than they were in the beginning), as well as her hot pink sleeveless, fitted shift dress and accessories.?
Another opinion I found on Forbes.com, by Liz Tilatti, isn’t as much concerned with Barbie’s anatomy or the idea that she’s overly sexualized or a poor representation of feminity. Rather, the author is more concerned that Barbie doesn’t project a realistic image of a day in the life of an entrepreneur. Instead, her image is much more corporate, and too high-end for a start-up business owner; and therefore is sending mixed messages. She feels that “if entrepreneur Barbie were dressed up in a casual t-shirt, jeans, and came with diverse wardrobe pieces and accessories allowing the girl buying her to dress her up and accessorize her as she pleases, that would best represent female entrepreneurs.”
Here are my thoughts as an entrepreneur who’s also an image coach:
When I worked in corporate America, I too, had an array of expensive suits, heels, handbags, accessories, and the latest gadgets (I rocked a Sony Clie handheld device back then, and a FLIP phone–oh yeah!), with my makeup and nails done everyday. I dressed that way because, yes, professional dress was expected where I worked–but also because it made me feel pretty, sleek, confident, and abundant. I knew I was working for someone else, but I was always taught to dress for the job you want, not the job you have; and I was very ambitious. The politics didn’t do it for me, and I had a hard time working my a$$ off and spending my Universe-given creative talents for someone else’s benefit; so when I left that atmosphere to be a stay-at-home mom, I knew I’d never return.
Fast forward several years of being a mommy, then returning back to school once (for aesthetics) and then again (for holistic nutrition); and lo and behold, I’m now an entrepreneur. My days consist of writing content for this website and others, my social media outlets, upcoming books, webinars, speaking engagements, and courses. In addition, I continuously experiment with new skincare formulations, and take as many aesthetics and nutrition continuing education courses as possible. I also have a thriving health and image coaching practice where I offer women one-on-one support via phone or Skype on how they can look and feel amazing and build a solid self image from the inside out and outside in. Oh yeah, and I’m a mother of two very active little girls (who play piano, train in classical ballet, and play soccer and lacrosse), a wife, and a homeowner. Most of the time, like Liz Tilatti, I’m not dressed in overly dressy or corporate attire–most of the time I’m not even in jeans–I’m in yoga clothes.
However, when I have a Skype client, teach a class in person, have a speaking engagement, attend a conference or trade show, do a book signing, meet with investors, or have any other in-person contact with anyone at all in a business setting; I do dress more like Entrepreneur Barbie–in a suit, or a dress, with accessories, makeup, nails, handbag, you name it. I also have the latest technology in terms of my computer, an iPad, and an iPhone, because I’m often on-the-go, and I need to work from wherever I am whether it’s home, on the lacrosse field, or at an airport.
Even though I (and most entrepreneurs) don’t dress fancy when working from home, running around, or doing anything else behind the scenes, you better believe that when I’m representing my business I do dress the part. Even if entrepreneurs don’t need to dress a certain way “at work,” many of our clients or other people we interact with for?business, do. Dressing up is not only a representation of my own professional image and the Holistically Haute brand, but it’s also a sign of respect to those with whom I do business.
I realize that other people might have different definitions of professional image than me and that’s fine–it all depends on what you’re trying to project and and who your audience is.
This is why I actually think Entrepreneur Barbie sends a positive message.
She’s dressed pretty much how I dress when I’m representing myself as an author or Holistically Haute as a brand. Yes her dress is pink and fitted, but it’s not showing cleavage or too much leg, and I think her accessories are tasteful. She’s dressed similar to how some of my entrepreneurial mentors like Marie Forleo or?Melanie Duncan might dress in their videos, interviews, and when representing their brands.
In terms of Barbie’s anatomy, honestly, I don’t really care. In the past, Barbie’s body was the embodiment of the “Bombshell” standard of beauty made famous by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor. Today, her body reflects a standard of beauty that’s not necessarily realistic for most women–but then again, she’s a DOLL–a toy. She’s not meant to be realistic–though I will point out that she’s much more realistic than some of her competitors like Bratz, Ever After High, or Monster High dolls–and she dresses more appropriately. I’m much more concerned with unrealistic images created by?altering body shapes and proportions via digital retouching than I am with that of a plastic and rubber toy.
So while the image projected by Entrepreneur Barbie might not represent every type of entrepreneur out there, I feel it does represent a necessary aspect of entrepreneurship–professional image. I also don’t feel that it poorly represents feminity either.
Should Entrepreneur Barbie have options to change out of her dress and into jeans and sneakers or yoga clothes (or even pajamas) for when she’s working from home or having a casual mastermind session with other entrepreneurs? Absolutely! I’m all for it.?One of the most powerful aspects of being an entrepreneur is having the freedom?of CHOICE.