Molded to Run
Barbie for president.
By Ashley Fantz
AUGUST 21, 2000:
"In April, the manufacturers of the nation's top-selling toy unveiled President 2000 Barbie Doll. The White House Project and Girls, Inc., as well as megastore Toys 'R' Us, are joining forces to recast America's favorite doll as the leader of the free world." -- Associated Press
MALIBU, CA -- Waving to a crowd of 7-year-olds and their parents from atop her hot pink Dream House balcony, President 2000 Barbie accepted her pretend Tea Party's nomination for the White House.
"With my poise and Mattel's stock options, we will build a bridge to the 21st century -- and it will be accessible to every American, not to mention portable and stylish," she shouted, as her aids Tiffany Kalb, 9, and Sophie Taylor, 8, gently rotated their candidate.
The pint-size fashionista with a perfect bust, waist, and butt ratio has been the favored choice of her party since she began working in third world countries to bring attention to child-labor sweatshops. Her campaign slogan, "Heck No To Sequin Boleros!" garnered national attention when it ended Barbie's most successful line of midriff, formal jackets, but saved a thousand Guatemalan fingers from needle pricks.
Credited for lowering her shelf price, even with accessories included, pundits have hailed Barbie for her allegiance to the kind of family values America cherishes most. The plastic politician is also enjoying support from environmentalists for continuing to drive the Barbie Big Fun convertible, a less gas-guzzling mode of transport compared to Mattel's Wee SUV.
But the blonde-coifed doll, dressed in a navy suit and a single strand of pearls, owes her political image to one man. Barbie's head campaign strategist Darren Starr -- who managed to make millions believe Tori Spelling was a real person for eight seasons of Beverly Hills 90210 -- saved his candidate from near political extinction last year when she was linked to Japanese Hello Kitty fur trappers. And when Barbie was suspected of shady real estate dealings surrounding her Pretty 'n' Pink Ice Cream Parlor, the Starr of Spin went to work diverting headlines to the war in Bosnia.
And now, Barbie's staunchest enemies -- all living feminists -- are considering voting for the doll.
"She's still not made of biodegradable plastic and her body causes young women to equate thinness with beauty, but Barbie's taking a significant step forward today," says Sandy Brownell of California's toy activist mouthpiece, PFLAG -- People for the Liberation of All Games.
But pundits say it's Barbie's position on key campaign issues such as social security that has won the nation's hearts.
"A night should never go by when an American doesn't have the freedom to put on a taffeta gown and stilettos, have her hair brushed by a little girl, and go dancing," she promises. "Read my painted lips, this Tea Party is about delivering the three Fs. Fun, Freedom, and Fashion."
The afternoon's only awkward moment came when Barbie tried to Clintonize her points by making a fist and then remembered that she doesn't have opposable thumbs. But Ken, who stood dutifully next to her, saved her from embarrassment when he locked and raised their permanently bent arms, touching them together to form a V for victory.
Often perceived as the Stedman Graham of the toy world, Ken refutes that he is riding Barbie's gold lamé stretch pants to the top.
"I am more than a gorgeous, impeccably molded, alpha male with gleaming white teeth and a fast, sexy car," he says. "I am her tennis partner, too."
Ken is considered an asset to Barbie's campaign. His nephew Marco, a biracial Hispanic homosexual, is expected to speak at the pretend Tea Party's convention in late August. His speech, "Como Estas? Uno Nacion Under a Groove, Homeboys!" is already being carefully penned by FAO Schwarz speechwriters. Also slated to appear are four of the five Spice Girl dolls (Ginger Spice declined an invite), two WNBA dolls, and The Rock wrestling doll. MTV's Choose or Lose program will air a forum with Barbie mediated by the Britney Spears doll. Sources in the Barbie camp report that Toy Story's Woody the Cowboy will give a short speech about all those unlucky death row cowpokes in his home state of Texas.
Rumors are flying about who Barbie will choose for a running mate. Her shortlist includes Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California) and the Posh Spice doll. But Posh's people say Hasbro will likely balk at the idea. "Hasbro and Mattel are archfoes," says Herbert Lipnicky, a former executive with Fisher Price turned CBS commentator. "Considering the Posh Spice doll has been in rehab once already, I think her chances are shot."
Many within the glittery blue Malibu beltway speculate that the next veep is Arianna Huffington. Barbie and Huffington have gone to the same hair stylist for decades and are longtime friends.
Skipper was once again passed over.
By far the biggest obstacle keeping Barbie from sashaying into the Oval Office is her reputation for seeming, at times, wooden.
"I'm no stiffer than that guy from Tennessee," she said while sunbathing near her Dream House pool.
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