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Moschino makes history with first boy in Barbie ad

Jeremy Scott busts gender stereotypes by casting a boy in the commercial for his Barbie

Moschino has dropped the ad for its Barbie, a 30-second video which, for the first time in the doll’s 56-year history, features a boy. “So fierce!” he says, while placing a quilted shopper bag on the arm of his doll dressed in a leather two-piece from Moschino’s AW14 collection.

In 2015 it’s a generally accepted fact that gender specific toys can have a negative impact on children. While they may seem harmless, the archaic lessons they teach kids about gender are not. Guns and trucks tell boys that masculinity is about being aggressive, active and strong while dolls and tea sets tell girls that femininity is about being passive, pretty and gentle. They reinforce a blue-pink gender binary. So what does this Moschino Barbie boy represent? An long-overdue alternative. 

However – it has to be said that while this boy busts the stereotype of the gun-wielding, truck-driving man, he does reinforce that of the feminine, fashion-obsessed gay man. So is this ploy a landmark moment in gender marketing or simply company using a gay stereotype and socially progressive narrative to capitalise on a different market?

Because of Jeremy Scott’s input into the project, it’s safe to assume the former. This is a designer who was bullied for not fitting into the status quo and, as revealed in the documentary about him, wore his high school graduation gown with a pair of denim hot pants, and platform trainers. With an outlandish dress sense and blonde Mohawk just like Scott himself, it’s hard not to read this boy’s portrayal in this ad as semi-autobiographical.

“My Moschino Barbie commercial makes his-tory by having the 1st boy playing with a Barbie!” Scott tweeted earlier today, clearly ecstatic about the project. While this is a victory it is, in a sense, a bittersweet one. Why has it taken so long for an ad to say that it’s okay for boys to play with dolls, as well as girls?