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Barbie’s Comeback is a Little Creepy
By: Cindy Wendland
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Driving to school this morning we heard about 78 new Barbies coming out this year and the new Hello Barbie talking doll. We love Barbie dolls and thought that was exciting news. The Barbie talking doll prompted some interesting discussion that ended in a summary of “That’s a little creepy.”

The Barbie townhouse was the favorite toy from childhood. Our Barbies would invariably get in accidents from falling out of the elevator. This turned out to be the precursor to our sister’s medical career. Regardless, we had many fun times playing Barbies. We enjoy it when dear toys from our childhood carry over into our own children’s playtime. We are not Barbie collectors in our family, but play with them as toys.  Collectors may have a different take on the introductions, but as toy users this is our perspective.

With the new Barbies, there are eight different skin tones and 14 different hairstyles. Some Barbies will also have bendable ankles so they can wear flats. That is nice and realistic. Who of us wants to wear heels every day? The Olympic gymnast Barbie that was a gift on my 30th birthday did wear tennis shoes but she was one of the few. This diversity in Barbie’s look is a nice addition. Barbie does need to stay true to her brand, but we’re not sure how that will be redefined. We are excited that children will have dolls to play with that look more like them. That is the good part.

The bad part is the talking voice Barbie. The necklace on Barbie hears the voice, then transmits it to some secure (?) server where people can provide responses so her conversation improves over time. This sounds a little like the CIA, and this is where the questions started pouring out in the car ride this morning. What if a parent says something in the room? What if the necklace doesn’t get turned off? What if a song plays with a bad lyric? It seemed less friendly and more intrusive. In this age of snapchats and FaceTiming, kids can talk with someone whenever they want. For younger kids, Barbie’s communication may be appealing — unless they have an older sibling who shares the view that it is creepy. Then they may feel that way too.

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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