What Barbie Taught Joan Rivers

I will never forget the day my Mom brought me–her 3-year-old, blond haired, blue eyed little girl–to Zellers (the Canadian equivalent of Target) to buy my first Barbie.

My Mom was a dance instructor, so I chose work-out Barbie. She seemed most similar to my real-life role model–they both wore spandex and sweat bands. As I grasped that sweet, sleek, square box in my pudgy little hands, I looked from the fake lady to the real lady and back again. “Mommy,” I said, “Barbie has bigger boobies than you do!” My mother laughed heartily and held to doll next to her chest, “No she doesn’t, she’s just a little doll!”

This lesson on real boobies vs. fake boobies is one of only things I clearly remember about those dolls. I could never understand what you were supposed to do with a Barbie. Playing with my older brother’s race cars and Nerf guns seemed like way more fun than wrestling Barbie’s skin-tight dresses and ill-fitting stockings on and off her poorly-proportioned frame.

Another thing I remember about Barbie was her seemingly endless collection of outfits. That’s what Barbie taught Joan Rivers: the ever-important lesson of loving things. Here she is offering her reflections on the doll, tongue firmly in cheek, of course.

Have a Barbie story you’d like to share, or thoughts on Barbie’s lessons on materialism? Send your video clips, YouTube links or notes to shallett@msmagazine.com

Image of Joan Rivers from Flickr user David Shankbone under Creative Commons 2.0.


  1. Barbie seems to always get a negative rap. I think that (like most things) they can be used negatively or positively. I had a variety of Barbies including teacher, veterinarian, and store owner. Yes, sometimes my Barbies were princesses, but most of the time they solved mysteries, wrote novels, taught classes, and lead feminist movements.

    They’re a durable versatile that can teach girls good or bad lessons depending on the on a lot of factors besides the doll itself.

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