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OPINION: Tickled pink in current Barbie world

Columnist Wendy King looks beyond the plastic veneer to find out more about the iconic doll's relevance and endurance as the newly released Barbie movie breaks records
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Have you noticed everything is pink lately?

In case you missed it, it's a big celebration of Barbara Millicent Roberts. That would be Barbie, for short.

This past weekend, the live-action movie Barbie hit the theatres, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, who hails from London, Ont. (I always get Gosling and Ryan Reynolds mixed up — both cute, both named Ryan and both Canadian). 

This is the guy from The Notebook. He plays Ken.

The Barbie movie made $155 million on the opening weekend in the U.S.

Anyway, I am seeing everything Barbie right now and was wondering why is this such a big deal? I thought it seemed juvenile and pointless.

Until I dug a bit deeper, that is.

Everybody knows her and likely had a Barbie doll or two growing up. She was produced by Mattel in 1959 and came from a fictional town in Wisconsin. I believe she started as a fashion model. From memory, I think there was also a little sister Skipper and a friend Midge?

Over the years, it seems there were more relatives and friends, but none of them ring a bell for me.

Nevertheless, millions of children enjoyed endless hours of entertainment from Barbie and the gang. For that alone, I can celebrate her.

Over the years, I did think it was very impressive that they gave Barbie a myriad of occupations — veterinarian, astronaut, musician, Marine Corps member, UNICEF ambassador, and presidential candidate.

Mattel also made sure the doll didn’t only present as blonde and blue-eyed. Through the years, Barbie has had 35 skin tones, 97 hairstyles and seven body types. But who's counting?

The company also created the first Down Syndrome Barbie.

In 2022, kids could choose a Barbie with hearing aids or one with a prosthetic leg, as well as a Ken doll with vitiligo, which is a condition that causes loss of skin pigmentation.

How amazing for a child’s doll to mirror what they may look like?

The company has always reinvented the product and kept her current.

There were specifically Canadian Barbies, including Indigenous dolls, RCMP Barbie and an Olympic skater.

So, obviously, this is more than just nostalgia at work.

According to some who have seen the film, it is a lot deeper than people might think.

Director Greta Gerwig suggests it’s a movie about female empowerment with themes of sexism and patriarchy.

From a marketing standpoint, it's making its mark around the world ... from Barbie-themed hotels and fashion to pink food and beverages.

Will we see the Christmas of Barbie? Most likely.

Are those of us who still have some Barbie dolls lounging around in her Malibu Dream House getting them back out for a little reunion? I’m betting yes.

I’ve got a few still in boxes that I have never been able to part with.

So, while at first I just figured it was going to be a frivolous summer romp, I may have answered my own questions.

Barbie is as important as she is/was to you personally.

A little bit plastic, a little stiff, a little too perfect who came in a box but over time broke out of the mould.

She found a way to live outside the box and remain relevant for 64 years.

Way to go, doll!