Earlier this week, I learned (from the excellent blog, "Popehat") that West Virginia lawmaker Jeff Eldridge (D-Lincoln) had introduced a bill that would make it illegal to sell Barbie dolls in the state:
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §47-25-1, relating to banning the sale of "Barbie" dolls and other dolls that influence girls to be beautiful.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §47-25-1, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 25. BARBIE DOLLS. §47-25-1. Unlawful sale of Barbie dolls. It shall be unlawful in the state to sell "Barbie" dolls and other similar dolls that promote or influence girls to place an undue importance on physical beauty to the detriment of their intellectual and emotional development.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to ban the sale of Barbie dolls and other similar dolls.
H.B. 2918 (Mar. 3, 2009). Now, you might think that the purpose of this bill is to ban the sale of Barbie dolls and other similar dolls, but it seems to be more about sending a message. "That's the image out there that's the most impressionable on our younger children, especially our little girls — 'I want to be like Barbie,'" Eldridge was quoted as saying. ("Especially"?) "I got a big heart for kids," said Eldridge, who does serve on a committee focusing on youth issues. "I want to stress more on [sic] education than just on beauty." Coincidentally, Eldridge grew up in the town of Big Ugly, W. Va.
The state legislature's website has a few member press releases posted, but there was nothing from Eldridge about Barbie. He and his three fellow district delegates did issue a press release last year announcing that they had a "nearly perfect 99.999 percent voting record." (The item didn't say which one of them screwed it up for the rest.) Speaking of nearly perfect, a poll on WSAZ's website showed that 93.6 percent of respondents were opposed to the proposed ban.
Also opposed: the state's governor, Joe Manchin, and opposition GOP lawmakers, some of whom showed up the next day with Barbie dolls that they displayed proudly on their desks throughout the session. Troy Andes (R-Putnam) brought Princess Anneliese Barbie to work. "It was mainly to emphasize that the Legislature has done nothing to save or create jobs this session," he said. "West Virginia is now the laughingstock of the nation. [Well, a laughingstock.] Instead of talking about banning the sale of Barbie dolls, legislators should be focused on creating jobs and reforming our state's broken business climate." The Princess, wearing a sparkly pink dress, silently agreed with her owner.