Monday, May 5, 2008

Four Things I'm Not Going to Do with My Rebate Check

© 2008 Karen Van Fossan

Four things I'm not going to do with my rebate check:
1. Frame it.
2. Blow it all on Red Hots.
3. Fold it into an origami tanker.
4. Buy a Barbie.

You couldn't mistake me for a Barbie fan, not anymore. Judging by the news, I'm not alone on that. Barbie sales have fallen 12% in the US. Where did I hear this? From Mom. The same mom who wouldn't let her daughter have a Barbie.

This rule, which inspired plenty of stink eye (behind her back, of course), also gave me a glimpse of something way beyond Barbie. I learned, or at least I sensed:
1. Barbies don't look like women.
2. Women don't look like Barbies.
3. It's fine if I don't look like Barbie,
4. Because I can't.

Still, I was a child of the space age, forever awash in aphorisms proclaiming the human potential. School assemblies, pep rallies, graduation ceremonies, all taught me this: Aim high! You can do it! Be whatever you want to be! All you have to do is put your mind to it.

OK, that sounds bitchen! (I never really said bitchen. Not very much.) But who should we aim to be? At pep-rally age, my friends and I dreamed of being Barbie when we grew up. Interestingly enough: Breast augmentation is now the most popular cosmetic surgery in the nation. That's this year. In 2006, liposuction topped the list.

What would life be like, being Barbie? Can we do it?

Women with breast implants are three times more likely than the rest of us to kill themselves. (Not only that, they're three times more likely to die of alcohol and drug abuse.) Could it be that they've had cancer, and suicide seems like the only way out? Well, no. Women who get implants and kill themselves later aren't any more likely to have a history of cancer. The main difference between them and me is...tell me again?

Mom always hoped I'd have a healthy image of my body. I guess she never heard: You're supposed to set attainable goals for your kids.

Her no-Barbie policy (unaltered by the stink eye) was accompanied by others, equally as trying for a three-year-old:
1. Don't just run off to Danny's house. Ask your mother first.
2. Try to eat popcorn without plunging it down your throat.
3. Politely say, More milk, please? Don't slam your cup on the table.
4. No guns, ever, of any kind.

The first rules, though challenging, were doable with practice. But Rule Number Four! Mom, why?
1. Guns aren't toys.
2. Killing isn't a game.


I've heard it said that a nation is like a family. The federal budget is a checkbook for the entire US-family, all 300 million of us. I recently went to a program by WAND, a national women's peace organization, that came to Fargo and Bismarck. This is what I learned:

In the US-family checkbook...
For every $1 for education, 7 goes to weapons and war.
For every $1 for ag and the environment, 8 goes to weapons and war.
For every $1 for health, 9 goes to weapons and war.

I suppose the weapons are there so we feel safer. But I don't.

Maybe I'd feel safer with a Barbie.

Maybe not.


Julie said...

Your Blog always brightens my day. I had a fake barbie.....

blogslut said...

Great post! I learned a lot from those stats. And then I got mad.

You know, I bet Barbie doesn't even like all that publicity. Free Barbie! Free Barbie!

Anonymous said...

i love tulips, yes. barbies, no.

Chris Alexander said...

I wouldn’t let Barbies in my house either when I had babies. No Barbies…no playdough… But, when we had our first birthday party that was open to more than family? The first two gifts were Barbies and Playdough! That was the end of it! But instead of just banning them from the house, my daughters and I played with them together and talked about barbies and women and families and how some people have ideas that differ from other people’s ideas and how talking ideas out with one another was a good way to get the differences out in the open so you could deal with them…I’m hoping that these conversations helped my kids learn how to communicate and collaborate better in their lives, even if their bodies don’t end up looking like Barbie.