Paris to Honor a Living Doll

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Here’s a headline from the French daily Libération that jumped out at me: Barbie, 50 years of a bimbo.

Yes, we’re talking here about that Barbie, the famous doll from Mattel. (Has anyone really ever named their daughter “Barbie” within the past couple of decades, anyway?) And that “50 years” in the title refers to the fact that our little Barbie will soon mark that numbered anniversary of her existence! (Sans lifting, the text also notes, meaning that she has never resorted to a face-lift or any other sort of cosmetic surgery. Which is remarkable, because any modification, applied to any part of her body, would have qualified as “plastic surgery” by definition, I suppose.)

The point of this brief article is that Paris is getting ready to make a big, big deal out of Barbie’s fiftieth around the time when it occurs on 9 March. First, as you would actually expect, the Dolls Museum there will have an exhibition of the earliest models, while the luxury women’s-fashion store Colette will have an exhibition of Barbie accessories past and present, from MP3 player and box of bonbons all the way to “jewelry set with diamonds.” In April the Galeries Lafayette, that luxury shopping-complex in the heart of the city, will have a presentation of drawings of fifty dresses created for Barbie by prominent designers: Sonia Rykiel, Christian Lacroix, etc. Finally, Karl Lagerfeld (a fashion designer I have actually heard of before) will exhibit a series of high-fashion Barbie photos. (It’s possible the photo you see displayed on the Libération webpage is one of them; unfortunately, there aren’t any more, if you click on a number from that vast array you see over on the left side you’ll just be taken to other articles from within this “Next” fashion sub-section of the Libération site.)

All this is some serious commemoration for something/someone whom Libération is nonetheless willing to label in its headline a “bimbo.” Can someone help me out here – does that word in French lack the negative connotations with which we associate it in English? I wouldn’t really be surprised . . .

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