In this week’s Wednesday 5: the “Barbie paradox” (yes, there is such a thing); women in Saudi Arabia can ride their bikes in public; the feminist politics about the thong; Hyeonseo Lee, a refugee from North Korea, talks about a childhood where public executions were normal; and Audrey Hepburn on embracing aging.
Lean In, Barbie . . . ?
With all the chatter about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book and mantra Lean In, the folks at the The Economist conducted an interesting study with the American icon “Barbie.” Apparently, there exists this notion called the “Barbie paradox.”
“The doll that celebrated her 54th birthday on March 9th has had more than 130 careers. Some command higher wages than others. What is perhaps surprising is that the price of a doll varies by profession. Most in the ‘Barbie I can be . . .’ collection cost $13.99, according to the doll’s maker, Mattel, and Amazon. But some, like ‘computer engineer,’ can fetch two or three times more . . .[S]ellers exploit parental hopes that a girl playing palaeontologist, for example, may grow up to be the real thing, so charge more.”
We didn’t even know there was Computer Engineer Barbie and a Palaeontologist Barbie (it’s been a while since we played with Barbies), s—first things first—thanks Mattel and Amazon, for showing girls some diversity in their career choices. However, according to the study, the most expensive Barbie is the Snowboarder, selling at $30, and the least expensive is Pilot, which sells at $13. What kind of message is that sending?
Women in Saudi Arabia Can Ride Bikes in Public
The freedom of mobility—the freedom to move about our cities and neighborhoods as we choose—is a freedom we don’t often think about. But the next time we complain about sitting in traffic, we have to remember how other women are living in other parts of the world. Saudi Arabian women, for example, are still not allowed to drive. But the tides are shifting, slowly but surely. The government is now allowing women “to ride motorbikes and bicycles in certain parks and recreational areas”; however, “a male relative or guardian must accompany them and [they must be] dressed in the full Islamic head-to-toe abaya.”
Katie McDonough of Salon tells us that this announcement comes on the heels of a series of new policies that give women more freedoms and opportunities in Saudi Arabia: “King Abdullah issued a decree in 2011 allowing women to run for office and vote in municipal elections beginning in 2015. In January, the king also appointed 30 women to the country’s Shura Council and pledged that women would constitute 20 percent of the consultative body.”
Read more at “Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women riding bicycles” at Salon.
Photo by Retlaw Snellac via Flickr.
Fitness Faux Pas, Part Deux
When our Patricia Allen wrote about what not to wear/do when working on your fitness (cleavage, camel toe, etc), she unleashed a firestorm (see the comments). Readers felt that as long as women are working out and committed to their health, why should we pay attention to what they wear? While Dr. Allen didn’t get around to talking about “the thong,” Pamela Stubbart at Blisstree is taking up the mantle:
Are women’s choices of workout underwear really worth all that upset? For the record, I have done yoga in a thong, but certainly do not perceive myself to be living in any kind of “sexualized hell.” At the end of the day, one woman’s “porn-compliant” torture garment is another woman’s unremarkable staple undies.
Read more at “Does This Thong Make Me Look Like a Bad Feminist?” at Blisstree
Hyeonseo Lee: My Escape from North Korea
For this week’s dose of resilience and hope, we share with you the TED Talk of Hyeonseo Lee, who grew up in North Korea but escaped to China in 1997. She tells us: “When I was seven years old, I saw my first public execution, but I thought my life in North Korea was normal.” Lee has become an advocate for fellow refugees.
TED Talk: Hyeonseo Lee talks about growing up in North Korea.
Audrey Hepburn in Rome
Last week, we paid homage to The Trench Coat—a Fashion Icon, with—who else?— Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s as our model. Hepburn’s son, Luca Dotti, is releasing a new book on his mother: Audrey in Rome, a collection of 2,500 photos that capture his mother throughout the city. Dotti tells Vanity Fair that the woman adored around the world didn’t understand the public’s fascination:
“She thought she had a big nose and big feet, and she was too skinny and not enough breast. She would look in the mirror and say, ‘I don’t understand why people see me as beautiful.’ ”
And, she embraced aging:
“She was always a little bit surprised by the efforts women made to look young. She was actually very happy about growing older because it meant more time for herself, more time for her family, and separation from the frenzy of youth and beauty that is Hollywood. She was very strict about everybody’s time in life.”
And this is why we adore Audrey.