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.


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.