Watch These Girls Take a Hammer to Barbie-Like Stereotypes of Beauty and Perfection

Engineering toy company GoldieBlox is challenging the traditional pink aesthetic with an action figure for girls.
Nov 7, 2014·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

The culturally entrenched belief that little girls should be focusing on their looks instead of hitting the books is getting another beatdown from engineering toy outfit GoldieBlox. Just in time for the holiday season, the company, which hopes to inspire the next generation of female engineers, is debuting its hammer-wielding Goldie action figure as an alternative to mass-produced, pink-wearing Barbie-style dolls.

In the advertisement above, a dozen girls walk in glittery heels and pink fur jackets like they’re participating in a bizarre mash-up of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and a scene from Metropolis. As they strut with dead looks on their faces, “Big Sister” repeats a brainwashing phrase: “You are beauty, and beauty is perfection.”

At the end of the catwalk, each girl receives a Barbie-like doll from the assembly line—until one frizzy-haired girl wearing red Converse tennis shoes brings her hammer to the proceedings and smashes the entire setup. Seeing the road to freedom, the other girls begin to join her—all while Metric’s song “Help, I’m Alive” plays in the background.

“It’s not just the fashion doll we have a problem with; it’s the impossible standards that that doll represents,” wrote GoldieBlox’s chief rainmaker Lindsey Shepard on the company’s blog about the advertisement. “It’s not the individual princess movie, it’s the constant barrage of princess culture. It’s the lack of options that keeps us up at night.”

GoldieBlox is not alone in its efforts to change up the kind of dolls and action figures marketed to girls—and the demand is certainly there. This summer, the Miss Possible line of dolls, which similarly hopes to get young women interested in science, technology, engineering, and math, surpassed its Indiegogo campaign goal and raised $75,000 to produce a Marie Curie figurine.

Shepard goes on to note that GoldieBlox believes that every girl “deserves a positive role model that she can relate to, one who prefers high-tops to high heels.” While the reception to that message has been mostly positive, some savvy consumers are questioning the company’s either/or messaging.

“I am a PhD with board certification in two different clinical areas, and I like high heels! Isn’t the point of feminism that we are free to do and like and be what we want? Making girls feel bad about liking clothes or jewelry is just as wrong as making them feel bad about liking science,” wrote Liz Prence on the GoldieBlox Facebook page.

Other commenters are questioning the doll’s lack of diversity. “Why is the girl in the video who broke out of the mold a beautiful, perfectly coiffed blonde? And the doll can do things but it has more hair than body and is blonde too. Will there be diverse dolls? Dolls who look like average kids?” asked Facebook commenter Sandra Waugh.

In its replies to commenters, the company promises that more diversity is coming to the line of Goldie dolls. And, as GoldieBlox makes clear on its blog, “We’re committed to your daughter, no matter what she looks like, no matter what she wants to be when she grows up, no matter what her favorite color is.”