RCMP Barbie— a national identity?

Photo courtesy of The Mountie Shop

I fully admit that I was a Barbie-obsessed child. I had all the outfits and the matching shoes to go with them. Barbie travelled in in her hot pink convertible to her hot pink stable. And when Barbie got lonely, she’d hang out with Ken and Stacie. Of course, looking back now, I feel a bit of shame about my Barbie love. She’s not the best role model, thanks to her unattainable body and her inability to find a steady career. Despite this, I’d never been horrified by Barbie and what she stood for. That is, until RCMP Barbie arrived.

RCMP Barbie is a limited edition doll that’s a part of Mattel’s “Dolls of the World” collection. This new Barbie is supposed to celebrate travel by being “dressed in the ancestral clothing of her country,” says the Mountie Shop website. RCMP Barbie represents Canada, which is described as “the land of the maple leaf, maple syrup and the maple donut.”

I’m not sure where to even begin with this.

I do think the RCMP have played an important role in Canadian history and they should be acknowledged. But saying RCMP Barbie represents Canadian ancestry is completely dismissive of Aboriginals and their defining role in our country. Though, defining Canada by maple syrup and donuts isn’t really accurately representing our country either. Canada is so much more than that—bilingualism, gay-rights, the Rockies, Terry Fox, We Day, just to name a few. If the point of this Barbie is to travel the world reflecting the countries she visits, then maybe she should actually teach children something about those countries.

I think the most upsetting thing about RCMP Barbie is that she doesn’t accurately represent the Mounties and what they do. RCMP Barbie shows kids that Mounties wear high-heeled boots—very practical—and that they can remove their Stetson to show off their “bright red hair,” explains the Mountie gift shop about the features of the doll.

The hair on this Barbie is just ridiculous. Mounties aren’t even allowed to let their hair touch the collar of their uniform. But RCMP Barbie is apparently the exception, showing children across the world that all female officers have long flowing hair with highlights. This could have been a great learning opportunity, where Mattel explained to kids that RCMP Barbie wears her hair up so it doesn’t get caught in anything while she’s on duty. But I guess glossy hair trumps safety lessons.

It’s important to note that RCMP Barbie has always had long-flowing locks. Here’s the 1988 version.

I find this Barbie incredibly demeaning to the amazing female officers she’s supposed to represent. RCMP officers are strong and brave. This Barbie is overtly sexy and unable to do her job because she can’t run in those heels. Female RCMP officers are a symbol of empowerment. RCMP Barbie is not.

The most ridiculous part of RCMP Barbie is that she has a pink passport, so she can travel the world in “style.” Come on! Is that the message Barbie is supposed to teach us, that a woman’s role in society is to be stylish, sexy and dressed in pink? It would appear so. This is one lesson I hope children don’t learn.

What are your thoughts about RCMP Barbie?