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Why Amy Schumer Is the Perfect Choice to Play Barbie

After it was announced that Amy Schumer was in talks to play Barbie in an upcoming live-action feature film, she was subjected to body shaming. And where else? On social media.

Rachel Shukert
December 12, 2016
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Amy Schumer accepts the Critics' Choice MVP Award in Santa Monica, California, January 17, 2016. Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Amy Schumer accepts the Critics' Choice MVP Award in Santa Monica, California, January 17, 2016. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Amy Schumer: comedy superstar, bestselling author, outspoken feminist, gun control crusader, and now … Barbie? That’s the news from Hollywood, anyway, where Schumer is in talks to portray the iconic symbol of American womanhood (and invented by a Jew!) in a new live-action project from Sony.

Naturally, it didn’t take long of for those gangs of troglodytes who inhabit certain social media caves, where they spend their time slamming women, minorities, and rationalizing the infiltration of a foreign power into our democratic process—I have no quantitative basis for this particular Venn diagram, just my gut and my powers of perception—to let it be known they do not see a woman of Amy’s physical attributes to be the correct choice for the role. And guess what? They’re absolutely right!

As girls of my generation were repeatedly told, in order to prevent us from despising our bodies more than absolutely necessary for inclusion in mainstream society (spoiler alert: it didn’t work), Barbie wasn’t a realistic female human. Because if Barbie, based on her proportions, were to become a real live girl, she’d have a 39” bust, an 18” inch waist, a size 3 shoe, and would not menstruate and have to walk on all fours. By that standard, no actress in Hollywood has the credential to play everybody’s favorite Ken-dating, shopping addicted, Malibu surfing rock star astronaut. But a Barbie character who, as in the film’s description, realizes she doesn’t fit in with the other Barbies and chooses to make her own way in the world—who could be better than to play the part than Schumer, a woman who has defiantly stood up to her critics and refused to occupy whatever box people have wanted to put her in from the start of her career?

Schumer clearly agrees with me, sharing a photo of herself in a bathing suit as a response to the deluge of online hate, saying, “Is it fat-shaming if you know you’re not fat and have zero shame in your game?” She also thanked the fans for voicing their support: “Thanks to everyone for the kind words and support and again my deepest sympathy goes out to the trolls who are in more pain than we will ever understand,” she wrote. “I want to thank them for making it so evident that I am a great choice. It’s that kind of response that let’s you know something’s wrong with our culture and we all need to work together to change it.”

Schumer’s right. We would be better off as a culture if we stopped attaching any importance or credulity to things unqualified idiots say on the Internet, whether they’re a Russian troll with 23 followers who uses the words “White Pride” in his profile, or the President-Elect of the United States. But she didn’t mention one thing that I will: Let’s not forget, like Schumer, Barbie is the ultimate Jewish-American girl, conceived by the Jewish designer and co-founder Ruth Handler (with her husband Elliot) of the Mattel Toy Company, and named and modeled after their daughter Barbara. Anyone who thinks Schumer can’t play Barbie never really knew who Barbie was in the first place.

And besides, it could be worse. She could be a brunette.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.