By Ronnie Polaneczky-Opinion Philadelphia Daily News.
FIRST, THE good news.
On Thursday, Mattel Inc., behemoth toy maker of Barbie, launched three new versions of the doll to reflect a broader array of body shapes and sizes: Petite, tall and curvy -- in seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles.
"Barbie reflects the world girls see around them," trilled Mattel CEO Richard Dickson about the dolls, which are being sold online and will be in stores by spring.
"Her ability to grow with the times, while staying true to her spirit, is central to why Barbie is the number one fashion doll in the world."
The bad news: Barbie is 57 years old. Yet she doesn't look a day past 15, which is about the age she was supposed to be when Mattel sprung her on unsuspecting girls on March 9, 1959.
Technically, that actually makes her 72. But for argument's sake, let's go with 57.
She's mighty dewy for 57. She has no wrinkles, stretch marks, or C-section scars. Her eyelids do not droop. Her neck is as firm as her taut upper arms. She is unblemished by sun damage and age spots, doesn't own reading glasses and her gums are fine.
How is this ageless Barbie true to what "girls see around them" when they look at the middle-aged women in their lives?
She is not, my friends.
If Mattel wants to honor its "responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty," as Mattel senior veep Evelyn Mazzocco said at the launch, the company needs to drop the ageist crap and introduce some versions of Barbie that honestly reflect what 57 looks like.
I'll get the party started:
Botox Barbie. Her friends may complain that their cheeks and eyes look like unmade beds. But Botox Barbie's face is as plump and springy as a middle-schooler's, even if her high ponytail is thinner than her eyeliner brush.
DGAF Barbie. She can't remember why she ever tried to please people she never liked anyway. She regrets all the times she turned down a fun night with the girls for a mediocre night with a man. She wears her hair in a funky cut and openly leers at the best man at her niece's wedding. Accessories: a gold corkscrew and flannel pants.
New Knee Barbie. Twenty years of racing for cures, walking the dogs that the kids were supposed to take care of, and kicking ass as a working mom have done a number on this doll's joints. Comes with an artificial knee that can be snapped onto either leg.
"Bitch is the New Black" Barbie: This no-nonsense doll is her own biggest fan. She says what she thinks, gets s- done, suffers no fools, and scares the crap out of gentle ladies who wanted to be her friend until she opened her mouth. Comes with a posse of 10 pals who have her back.
'Til Death Doth She Part Barbie: After four decades of marriage, three kids, 10 grandkids, two cancer battles, and that one time they needed a restraining order against the crazy neighbor, this Barbie is still laughing it up and flirting with Ken, her sweetheart husband. Ken comes with removable hair.
401(k) Panic Barbie: She didn't start saving for retirement until she hit menopause, her home value plunged when an expressway ramp went in across the street, and her boss just told her to get on Twitter already or look for a new job. Accessories: a vape pen and Xanax script on auto-refill.
Last Tuition Payment Barbie. With wild eyes and mouth agape in joy, this Barbie is flush with cash now that she has paid off her kid's college loans from a hippie college whose degree meant nothing in the workplace. Comes with 32-year-old single son who won't move out of the house.
Empty Nest Barbie: She eats pudding for dinner, watches junk TV whenever she feels like it, buys crafts-y jewelry with the money she once spent on groceries, and spends hours staring into the bathroom, mesmerized by its continued cleanliness. Accessories: Heavier-gauge window curtains, because she walks around the house naked all the time.
Cellphone headset Barbie: Fifty-seven years in 180 careers (including astronaut, veterinarian, military jet pilot, ballerina, and NASCAR driver) have taught her some things. So this Barbie is the one people call for frank advice, a reassuring word, a sideways perspective, a bourbon recommendation or a really funny joke that's dirty or politically incorrect or -- better -- both. Comes with a pound of espresso and a bottle of Aleve.
Because she always needs Aleve.