The Secret of Barbie's Rivals

A mom suspects that girls love them for the same thing she doesn't: their 'tude

Since parenting so often feels like one long exercise in humiliation, in which you think you know everything until your children arrive to prove you wrong, I guess I shouldn't be surprised to find myself reconsidering my deepest beliefs about girls and their dolls, in the face of a merchandising watershed.

Like many moms of my era, I was one of those who righteously banned Barbie, the doll that launched a thousand women's studies dissertations, on the grounds that we didn't want our daughters' role model to be a giddy shopaholic who said, "Math class is tough!" and had a figure...

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