Over the years Barbie has had over 130 different careers — most all of them perky and pink. In the 1960’s, Barbie was an astronaut and registered nurse. In the last few years she has been a sassy computer engineer, stylish architect and even a presidential candidate.
Next month Mattel launches an entrepreneur doll ,and I’m underimpressed.
As an entrepreneur myself, I think it’s appropriate this Barbie comes with a tablet and smartphone. (Heaven knows those are a standard today in the business place.) And though she’s rocking entrepreneurship Barbie-style in a pink and black sheath dress, I wish she looked more like many women entrepreneurs I know who also juggle motherhood. Reality is, that is the kind of entrepreneur our daughters are more like to become someday, should they enter the world of self-employment.
According to Barbiemedia.com, 90 percent of girls ages 3 through 10 own at least one Barbie doll. In fact, one Barbie doll is sold every three seconds somewhere in the world.
My daughter is among the 90 percent, and chances are yours is too. Knowing that having a Barbie doll is a rite of passage for little girls everywhere, I’m glad that at least Mattel offers versions of Barbie that sport both more clothing and ambition than just Malibu Beach Barbie.
I realize we’re just talking about a doll here. But as a mother of a daughter, I want to be vigilant of the messages my daughter receives — even through her toys.
When I was young, my cousins had the coolest handcrafted Barbie house that took up an entire wall in their bedroom. It was the most amazing thing and we played Barbies for hours. Even though as a child I don’t remember being envious of Barbie’s beach house, body or boyfriend, the Barbie doll has sparked a conversation between my daughter and me about body image and modesty.
I never want her to think she isn’t pretty enough or skinny enough or popular enough. I’d hate for her to feel like she has to live up to some idea of false perfection.
And maybe the Barbie doll has nothing to do with a young girl’s view of her self-image. Maybe girls don’t think twice about what Barbie does for a living. Career aspirations probably set in long after girls outgrow playing with dolls.
Just in case, there are a few things I wish the new Entrepreneur Barbie doll represented about real women in business for themselves.
These women entrepreneurs, or “mompreneurs,” can adorn business attire when needed and look fantastic when they do. However, the behind-the-scenes entrepreneur isn’t glamorous.
Mompreneur Barbie would still have her tablet and smartphone, but she’d be sporting yoga pants and a pony tail while she preps for sales calls in a cluttered office — children at her feet. She’d be lucky if she had managed to put on some mascara.
Maybe it is evident in the sparkle of Barbie’s plastic eyes, but in order to succeed as an entrepreneur — especially one juggling a family too — you must have a passion for what you do and drive to make it all happen.
The phrase, “it’s not what you know but who you know” actually holds merit. Building a strong network of fellow entrepreneurs or business leaders is critical to steady success and growth in your business. A great mentor can actually increase your success — and quickly — as you learn from other’s mistakes and make choices correct for you and your business.
But maybe I’m selling Barbie short. She is a pretty well-connected doll. After all, she did run for President.
This article originally published as a regular column on KSL.com