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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 28, 2010

Career-wise, Barbie more than inspires

By Treena Shapiro

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Computer engineer Barbie and news anchor Barbie are the latest incarnations of the doll with the endless resume.

Courtesy of Barbie

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In 1959, Mattel's Barbie doll launched her first career as a fashion model.

Now she's 60, maybe 61, and on to careers No. 125 and 126, adding computer engineer and news anchor to the nine other careers she has planned for 2010.

When I first noticed her latest job announcement, I wanted to see what outfit she'd changed into. I wasn't impressed with the sparkly and shiny pink news anchor suit, but I was amused that computer engineer Barbie had color coordinated her laptop, headband and heels, while her blue earpiece not only set off the color of her eyes but matched the binary code on her top, as well as the pattern on her laptop case.

If she's got the math and science to back up her perky fashion sense, then I give her the thumbs-up. My daughter has put me on notice that I have to get a Barbie of my own if I want to play with the pink laptop.

It was all just playful banter until I learned that I might need to consider a career change sometime soon. I decided to check out Barbie's resume for inspiration.

After a year as a model she became a fashion editor, then oddly, in 2009 became a fashion magazine intern. Or maybe it's not odd, considering that I only took a closer look at the list because I know how hard it is to find work in print media these days.

The woman has done it all. She's been a flight attendant, pilot and astronaut; a candy striper, nurse, pediatrician and surgeon; an Olympic hopeful and professional athlete in several sports and periodically a race car driver. And while she apparently hasn't been elected president after several candidacies, she has won "American Idol" and the Miss America pageant.

In between, she's taken on less ambitious work, such as baby sitting and dog washing, but since she can change careers as easily as she can change outfits, why shouldn't she take a time out from her other high-pressure jobs every once in a while?

In the '90s, Barbie was apparently out to prove that she wouldn't let her gender or her need to accessorize get in her way as she served in all branches of the military, put out fires and fought crime and somehow managed to train for the Olympics and go pro in several sports.

I prefer the 21st-century Barbie, who still leads a charmed life but offsets her glamorous side with several more common professions that girls could achieve through education and training, such as a doctor, teacher, chef or baker. It's too late for her to be a role model for me, but I like that she's decided to offer girls a career option they don't need to look like Barbie to achieve.

When she's not being a reporter, Treena Shapiro is busy with her real job, raising a son and daughter. Check out her blog at www.HonoluluAdvertiser.com/Blogs.