West Virginia got hit a couple of times in the media recently. One hit involved a study that placed the state dead last among the happiest states in the country. Another hit came when a West Virginia legislator from Lincoln County, Jeff Eldridge, introduced legislation to ban the sell of Barbies in WV.
My mom tipped me off that our hometown newspaper wrote a good editorial in rebuttal to the stupid assertion that West Virginians are the unhappiest people in the U.S.
I did an independent study recently and determined that studies like the one showing WV is the unhappiest state in the U.S. are a waste of time.
Some people in Lincoln County think that Jeff Eldridge is wasting time by introducing the bill to ban Barbie. According to a quote from the Lincoln Online Journal, he's just interested in making sure girls know there's more to life than a pretty face.
“It isn’t just Barbie,” he said this week. “It is the idea that all a girl has to do to succeed is look pretty. I wanted to emphasize the need for education to succeed in life.”
It looks like he's getting more than he bargained for, what with Jay Leno using the opportunity to make fun of WV and David Letterman wanting him on his show.
The Lincoln Online Journal reports Eldridge won't be going on David Letterman, but I wish he would.
I've thought a lot about this story and I'd like to know what the argument is. Are those giving him such a hard time saying there is no negative impact by allowing our young daughters to emulate Barbie? Of course there is. Young girls suffer from self esteem problems now more than ever. Unfortunately, it's just the tip of the iceberg.
I played with Barbies growing up, but I was surrounded by strong women who looked nothing like the stereotype. Plus, I wasn't bombarded with the perfect body from every magazine cover and television show. I didn't see the waifs all over the movie screen or dancing in videos like young girls see today. And not every woman in my life was obsessed with diet and looks. They had other things to do like live their life.
All of these things have an impact on young girls. Dove built an entire campaign around the problem.
I think Eldridge was making an honest attempt to address the issue. Maybe he could have found a better proposal. Maybe he should have suggested a mentoring program for young WV girls so they could be exposed to real women contributing and making a difference. Maybe he could have helped start a sports program aimed at getting young girls active and keeping them healthy. Maybe going after Barbie wasn't the best thing, but he took a shot.
What bothers me most about this story isn't the fact that Eldridge introduced the legislation, but that the mainstream media used it as another way to take potshots at West Virginia.
Other states have their shares of legislation that seems a little odd or unimportant. A while back a GA lawmaker introduced legislation to make it illegal not to serve sweetened iced tea in a restaurant that is already serving iced tea. (I actually supported that legislation. Unsweetened tea? What's the point?)
WV is an easy target for people and that really makes me angry. Leno went too far. He didn't just take aim at the lawmaker, he took aim at the whole state.
His exact words: "Last week, a West Virginia lawmaker named Jeff Eldridge introduced a bill that would ban the state of West Virginia from selling Barbie dolls. They want to make it illegal to sell Barbie dolls in West Virginia cause they say the dolls give girls unreal expectations. See, apparently in West Virginia, dolls that have all of their teeth are not considered realistic."
That's taking a hit at every West Virginian and promoting a stereotype that hurts the state in more ways than one. Proud West Virginians don't want to be belittled. Teens in the state don't want to be made fun of. This pervasive idea that the state is filled with toothless hillbillies hurts people and can prevent much needed industry from coming into the state.
But what can you expect when the state's own governor takes potshots at his constituents?
Mr. Eldridge, go ahead and rethink the Barbie ban. Seems like people in your area aren't interested. Replace it instead with something more useful.
Ban the transmission of Jay Leno's Tonight Show from coming into the state's TV stations.
Now there's some useful legislation.
** Thanks, A., for the heads up!
Just read already!
5 years ago