Barbie Vacuum

Puttering through my Gold Box today, I got an offer for a product that made my jaw drop: the Barbie Real Vacuum. It’s a fully-functional handheld, cordless vacuum in a Barbie motif – pink with flowers and the Barbie logo. It’s advertised, both in the text and in the accompanying video, as for little girls, to encourage them to clean their own rooms. There is also a blue version, but without the child-specific description (it’s mentioned as one of a wider range of uses). So we’re clearly not talking about a line of child-themed vacuums. And the age range they give is 6 years and older, which falls pretty well with the Barbie age bracket – don’t Barbies lose their appeal around the early teen years? So, basically, we’ve got a product to encourage young girls that cleaning is fun, targeted at an age range in which heavy cleaning like vacuuming (as compared to just picking up after themselves) might reasonably fall to the job of their parents.
And it’s particularly a shame, because of all of the cleaning jobs, vacuuming would be the easiest to turn into a boy-appealing activity, if we’re going to go around following stereotypes. It’s noisy. You push a machine around. It’s like lawnmowing – a stereotypically guy job – but inside. And don’t we think of boys as the ones who will make all kinds of messes that might require more extensive cleanup? But the child-themed vacuum, out of all of the possible themes, is Barbie. Color me shocked.
Oh fine, the damn thing is cute. All the more reason to have a wider selection….

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