Mattel's apparently gender-bending Blond Diamond Barbie, designed by glitzy New York duo The Blonds, might be based on a drag queen, but it looks pretty similar to classic Barbie. Mattel isn't explicitly marketing it as a drag queen doll, but some are calling the new figure 'Drag Queen' Barbie because of its striking resemblance to Phillipe Blond. The connection seems pretty obvious:
(Mattel/The Blonds via Facebook)
But even with her dramatic make-up and over-the-top outfit, 'Drag Queen' Barbie is nearly indistinguishable from the old Barbie, which raises all kinds of questions about the doll we thought we knew. Barbie was once seen as a plasticized ideal of femininity. Has the anatomically ambiguous doll been fooling us all along?
Maybe 'Drag Queen' Barbie is just a sign of drag's increasing mainstream popularity. With the latest seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race drawing droves of viewers and lots of people rediscovering drag documentaries like Paris is Burning, the time seems right for Mattel to subvert Barbie's traditional gender norms. However, this isn't the first time the company has gotten creative with the Barbie brand. Over the years, they've released weird dolls like Pooper Scooper Barbie, Hitchcock Barbie (complete with attacking birds), Star Trek Barbie and some truly unfortunate ones, like Oreo Barbie or Teen Talk Barbie.This is the closest they've ever come to addressing Barbie's well-known status as a gay icon. Considering all the ways Mattel could've botched this, they seem to have pulled it off tastefully.
Of course, Blond Diamond Barbie won't be found in Toys 'R' Us, waiting to teach a new generation of kids it's OK to express gender identity in nontraditional ways. It's a collectors item for Barbie obsessives, and is available for the price of $125 by online order only.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.