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Barbie for the Nineties

by Jim Thames

Since her inception at the dawn of America's age of prosperity, Barbie has come to be more than just a toy; she is a cultural icon, a part of the fabric of American society. As such, Barbie moves with the times. And while we applaud Mattel's recent attempts to keep Barbie (and Ken) up to date-- the ``Earring Magic Ken,'' the Barbie and Martina ``My Two Mommies'' Home Playset, the ``Barbie and LeShawn Jungle Fever Playset'' (complete with disapproving WASP parents!), and ``Skinhead Ken--real steel toed boots for super stomping action!,'' we think Mattel could go a little further in capturing the spirit of our times, both in its attitudes of liberal tolerance and our yearning for the days of the past. Here are a few suggestions:

In recognition of the current diversity of American lifestyles, we present the ``Alternative Lifestyle Barbie Collection.''

In honor of the departure Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, we think Mattel should take over her role as shock troops for the sexual education revolution. In this light, we present the Barbie \& Ken responsible sex playset, featuring ``Safe Sex Ken,'' with pop-out erection and real unrolling condoms" and ``My First Orgasm Barbie,'' complete with battery activated vibrating washing machine, extra-flexible arms and fingers (to reach those `hard to rub' places), new improved Shuddermatic" facial expressions, and Dr. Elders' new instruction book ``The greatest love of all--learning how to play with yourself.''

Prostitution has long been an integral part of our society. We think it high time that Mattel recognize this, and even spice it up a bit, to help sales. We propose ``Theme Hooker Barbie--comes with four outfits, plus accessories! A nun's habit, school girl uniform, state trooper gear (real handcuffs!), cheerleader skirt & pom-poms, whipped cream, three chickens and a bassoon.''

The relentless march of science has brought us the ability to build better bodies. Now, I'm not complaining about Barbie--I think she's quite a dish! But I'm sure Ken wouldn't mind improving her just a touch. So, we present ``Liposuction Barbie.'' You simply dump baking soda and water in the special sacks on Barbie's hips and thighs, and watch the unsightly cellulite grow! Then, attach the enclosed plastic tubing to Barbie's special Lipovalves, and watch Barbie drain her way to her old thin svelte self. And how about the ``Building a Better Barbie Breast Enlargement Clinic.'' Open Barbie up with the special E-Z Access Breast Hinge, pop in two of the enclosed saline mini-sacks, click her shut, and presto! you've changed Barbie from a 38DD to a 42EEE, and made Ken a very happy man! But why let Barbie have all the fun? We think it's high time for the ``Ken or Kendra? Action surgery set.'' Make Ken's outside match the way his inside has always felt. Detachable penis! Attachable breasts! Mix and Match!

Fascinating though our modern lives may be, let us not forget the past. Here, in honor of Newt Gingrich and the new nostalgia-laden Congress, we make a couple of suggestions for the ``Golden Age Nostalgia Barbie Collection.''

How about ``Red Baiting Barbie'' (previously known as ``Senator McCarthy's very own Aide Barbie''), complete with list of names and accusing finger pointing action! Touch the button and watch her finger unerringly find the reds! (Communists not included.)

And who could forget the ``Glass Ceiling Barbie Boardroom Playset.'' This comes with Boardroom, Barbie, twelve identical WASP Corporate Drone Dan dolls (each with Grope-o-matic super fanny-patting grip), and coffee-maker.

And the ``L'il Orphan Barbie Girl's Town orphanage.'' Included: L'il Barbie and her friends, plus friendly Father Bob (pants glued on for extra safety!), and token despondent welfare mother.

I'm especially excited about ``Dust Bowl Barbie and Okie-Dokey Ken.'' Trust Barbie to show us how to survive extreme poverty and deprivation in style -- after all, just because she's a migrant farm worker doesn't mean she can't wear heels and do her hair properly! Complete playset contains a run-down pick-up and six hungry children.