It doesn't take (the representation of)
vaginal insertion to insert Barbie into the sexual arena. The Handlers, it will
be remembered, pulled her out of a sexual arena in the first place and kept
her there even after the Barbie-hating mothers in their first market study
confirmed that sex was the big message. MatteI's later spin control on this
issue was never designed to unsex Barbie, which would have been a bad
move since Barbie's appeal depends so much on it. A dorky boyfriend is a
boyfriend nonetheless. Summer flirtations with men of mixed race still repre-
sent sexual possibilities beyond the comfort zone of most white parents in the
1960s even if Barbie exits them with virginity intact. And Barbie eventually
acquired skintight clothes that made at least one Barbie model blush.
MatteI's spin control was, however, designed to circulate another inter-
pretation enough to open the purse strings: Barbie as a good girl and, later,
as paragon of feminism and diversity in their most widely palatable, and co-
opted, forms. Mattei pushed this interpretation so successfully that Barbie
needs to be understood as a cultural artifact who causes much of her own
meaning if for no other reason than that, besides thwarting future projects
of subversion, to argue otherwise would be fundamentally to disrespect
consumer testimony. Most consumer-made narratives and objects, both re-
actions and subversions, bear witness to the widespread belief that Barbie
comes with meanings attached. Many of these also indicate that this belief
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