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Barbie's New Presidential Look Is Fashion-Forward, But Does She Represent The Modern Feminist?

Barbie makes a bid for the White House this year and the presidential hopeful has a new look created by fashion designer Chris Benz (one of Michelle Obama's favorites). But does the latest incarnation of Mattel's "I Can Be . . ." Barbie series translate to girl power? Benz and Jessica Valenti, founder of the blog Feministing, offer two sides of the story.

BENZ: "Her hair and jewelry aren't outrageous. It strikes the right balance between fashion forward and confident."
VALENTI: "Women in politics are judged by their looks, and this says they need to look a certain way."

BENZ: "Pink is a part of the Barbie identity, but this is modern."
VALENTI: "This sends the message that being docile and cute are the only acceptable female powers."

BENZ: "I designed this print with the First Lady in mind."
VALENTI: "Michelle Obama is amazing. But if you're modeling a presidential Barbie off of the First Lady, what does that say about women in power?"

BENZ: "For the first time, she can stand on her own. It's a cool milestone."
VALENTI: "We're supposed to be grateful for that?"

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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