Barbie’s harmless – girls don’t see her as a role model: Lesley Keating

Apparently, Mattel bestseller, Barbie, is coming in for some serious flack as she’s just been declared unsuitable as a role model.Apparently, with her skimpy outfits, overtly feminine job choices and general pink fluffiness, she’s offending feminists and sending out the wrong message.

Hang on a moment…unsuitable as a what? As far as role models are concerned, off the top of my head there are plenty of others who’d make the cut ahead of Barbie. Malala Yousafzai, Audrey Hepburn, Anita Roddick, Marie Curie, Kate Adie to name but a few. The list is endless.


Barbie was just one of many dolls I played with growing up. Mine was a present as, left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t have chosen her.

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I preferred the now-defunct Sindy, but my absolute favourite was Tressy, a doll with a push-button in her tummy that made her shoulder-length hair grow to incredible lengths if you pushed the button and yanked the hair really hard at the same time.

Alongside Tressy and Sindy, Barbie was dressed, undressed and regularly disfigured with biros and crayons.

She had dodgy hair-cuts inflicted on her with kitchen scissors and was often defaced with scary felt-pen makeup.

Sometimes I played with her; other times not. Yet, never in my wildest dreams did I ever consider her, or any of her plastic sisters, my role models or want to grow up ‘just like Barbie’.

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Her disproportionate waist-to-hip ratio didn’t induce an eating disorder in me or convince me that’s how real women should look, no more than it made me covet flowing nylon locks.

I didn’t expect to live in a pink, plastic palace or to zip around in Barbie’s sports car with Ken in tow either.

My daughter’s Barbies ended up limbless and decapitated, but she didn’t grow up a serial killer. She knew they were just dolls.

Barbie as a role model? Do me a favour! She’s a plastic doll. She had as much influence on me, when I was growing up, as a packet of cornflakes. I’m pretty sure it’s exactly the same for girls today.

While it’s 11C outside, I’m stocking up on suntan lotion

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I am heading off to the sun soon and it feels very surreal indeed when we have battleship grey skies, Storm Gareth raging and rain rolling down the windows.

The strangest aspect about this is choosing summer clothes when I am shivering beneath heavy layers and also buying sun-care products to take with me.

Even trying on shorts and bikinis has brought me out in goose-bumps and I’ve had a few odd looks from changing-room staff when I’ve ambled in with an armful of summery, strappy things past other women queuing with coats and jeans.

But the most surreal aspect is that when I return, I’ll have a tan I can’t show off as it will all be hidden under jumpers, jeans and raincoats.

Mary should have known better, but it made me smile

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Poor old Mary Berry has been criticised for calling a strong coffee shot ‘expresso’ instead of espresso and pronouncing bruschetta, ‘bru-shetta’ instead of ‘bru-sketta’.

The critic is legendary Italian chef Aldo Zilli who claims that it’s ‘annoying’ and that he doesn’t mispronounce British favourites such as bangers and mash.

Come on Aldo – yes, Mary should have known better as she is a prominent cookery personality, but bangers and mash is hardly as challenging, is it?

I can’t help but smile, though, as Mary is well-known for delivering criticism on The Great British Bake Off so maybe it’s just desserts she now gets some herself.

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