Girl Scout sellout | Sex in the Suburbs

Amy Johnson - Contributed photo
Amy Johnson
— image credit: Contributed photo

The Girl Scouts are defending a $2 million deal with Mattel. Girls complete a Barbie-fied booklet and can earn a Barbie patch with the slogan “Barbie. Be Anything, Do Everything.”

Girl Scouts claim their mission is to build “girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.” I find it difficult to see how a Barbie doll wearing high heeled hiking boots is going to make the world a truly better place, but to be fair, she is just a doll.

The bigger crime here is the sellout of Girl Scouts to corporate sponsorship, and to one with a history of sexualizing and objectifying women.

Earlier this year, Barbie appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and Mattel released the Barbie Sports Illustrated swimsuit doll (“Only one left in stock!” www.amazon.com). Nothing says sexualization and objectification of women quite like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, right ladies?

In my opinion, Barbie was better off left as a fashion doll, with all the fantasy and unrealistic body proportions that go along with real life models. To put her in doctor’s outfits and Girl Scout uniforms with those huge breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs and plush ponytail smacks of some costume sex play being sold to our youngest consumers.

Worse is acting like this is somehow good for girls, that this doll is some sort of role model for them. Newsflash: real women are role models for girls. And real women aren’t healthy when they try to “do everything.” We need to be who we are, and do what we can. Hey, can I trademark that?

Even area Girl Scouts troop leaders, like Kathy Gendreau, are discouraged.

“A lot of people are outraged,” she said, “but I’m just feeling defeated. I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into this organization to empower young girls and help turn them into leaders, and now here we are with Barbie as the image Girl Scouts of the USA wants to present to the world. All I can think is, what’s the point?”

Barbie obviously isn’t going anywhere, so you need to talk to your girls. Ask them questions and have discussions about what it really takes to be a girl of courage, confidence and character. Chances are it’s not bright pink pants and high heeled hiking boots.

You could even talk about how to design a “media savvy Barbie,” who understands the intricacies of hoodwinking girls and their moms into spending money on ridiculous toys instead of activities that can help develop creative and critical thinking.

You can do more than play with dolls — like perhaps take a class from that Girl Scouts troop leader, who along with her business associate, Rebecca Soriano, founded Steamboat Studio. Their company provides classes for kids to engage in art, science, engineering and culture all at the same time, without a Barbie in sight. Find them on Facebook or at www.steamboatstudio.org.

Make no mistake, moms. This Barbie-as-Girl-Scout campaign isn’t about girls, role models or being all you can be.  This campaign is about money. Whatever you can be or do, Mattel wants you to buy Barbie. So use that brain matter and make your own choices because you can bet Barbie is laughing all the way to the bank.

Amy Johnson, MSW, is a trainer, educator and coach in the Pacific Northwest. She is co-author of the books, “Parenting by Strengths: A Parent’s Guide for Challenging Situations” and “Homegrown Faith and Justice.” Amy facilitates classes and workshops in the Puget Sound area and online. She specializes in working with parents and in sexuality education. Amy can be reached at comments@diligentjoy.com.


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