Now that Stereotypical Barbie has been to see the gynecologist, I hope we can expect her to proceed through the stages of a woman’s life with the same biological realism that she discovered when her feet fell flat and cellulite wrecked her day. If we’re to believe diversity is her brand message, given that we have racial representation, I’d like to see Menopause Barbie and Ultimate Barbie. To be authentic in her portrayal of everywoman, she’s going to have to age through the stages of life. Menopause is after all a real thing, unlike Barbie’s measurements. With an expanded waistline, Menopause Barbie could expand the doll’s market beyond idealized youth to reach the low estrogen demographic, who have a lot more money to spend on toys that make them feel good about themselves.
While Stereotypical Barbie is designed for sex appeal, Menopause Barbie would be designed for mental acuity and physical comfort, because we all know that as estrogen wanes, snark waxes eloquent in a baggy sweatshirt. Menopause Barbie would evolve the brand from tight to saggy, hard-belly to bulging midlife belly, and impervious good humor to hot flashes and mood swings. Instead of waving and gushing “Hi, Barbie!”, Menopause Barbie would throw both hands up in the air and mutter, “I have no more effs to give!”
Menopause Barbie the Movie would open with our girl in a t-shirt sitting beside a backyard swimming pool, shredding that striped swimsuit with a barbeque fork while she sings along with Dionne Warwick’s Do You Know the Way to San Jose. Instead of sunning themselves at the beach, Menopause Barbies would gather in a coven in the forest and burn their dress shields in a symbolic ritual of self-actualization. They would flaunt their leg hair and go shopping without makeup. They’d be equipped with those Tiny Tears water holes in their armpits and their bum, so they’d get drenched when they sweat and squirt pee when they sneeze.
Of course, Menopause Ken has aged, too. He spends most of his time in his Mojo Dojo Casa house watching young Kens play beach on TV and sleeping in his chair. After Menopause Barbie beats him in a game of checkers, he tries to commit suicide by swallowing a chicken wing whole and she has to save his life with the Heimlich Maneuver. Then as a show of gratitude, he makes his favorite surfboard into a coffee table and brings it to her house as a gift, but it doesn’t fit through the door, and he has a complete emotional breakdown about his manhood and how Knott’s Berry Farm isn’t even a real farm, and Menopause Barbie explains to him that men go through a change of life, too. In the last scene of the film, she’s alone in the bathroom scrutinizing her face in the mirror with a tweezers as she considers removing the hairs sprouting from her chin. Then in a savage pivot, she bares her teeth and smiles, tosses away the tweezers and says, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Of course, this is all a set-up for the introduction of Ultimate Barbie who is shorter than she used to be, with rounder shoulders and grey hair. She wears slip-on Skechers, and yoga pants, she can’t remember words, and she can’t see without her eyeglasses. Her Ken mostly sits on a park bench with the other Kens and says, “Huh?” because none of them can hear. Meanwhile the Ultimate Barbies have started an investment club and talk about what stocks to buy while they play mahjong and drink mocktails. They organize walks and museum tours and tell stories and compliment each other on their jewelry and hug a lot and plan to save the world with their donations. They’re satisfied with themselves and their lives, so they probably won’t make a movie about Ultimate Barbie. But that’s okay. Hold down her talk button and she says, “Thank god that’s over.”