I’m a feminist. I’ve read the theory, I’ve studied the movement and I’ve researched the historical and current need for it. I can safely say that I am a feminist. Now, as with any movement, feminism has a lot of hotly debated topics with no right or wrong answers. But, I’m not here to debate feminist theory, that’s what Twitter’s for. I’m here to talk about Barbie.

Yes, I’m talking about that pink-loving, vaguely woman-shaped chunk of plastic brought to you by Mattel.

Most women (and even some men) born after the 1950s have childhood memories of playing with Barbie dolls. Most of you probably haven’t given her a second thought since tossing out your last Skipper doll at age 11. As easy as it is for an adult to ignore Barbie, she’s been a cultural phenomenon in the ages four to eight crowd for quite some time. To this day, she’s one of the best-selling toys on the market.

With any piece of popular children’s media, there are adults who hate it. I’ve seen people argue that Barbie’s a bad role model, she’s materialistic, her proportions are unrealistic, she will give young girls body image issues, the list goes on.

I don’t know how old I was when I first learned there was a controversy around Barbie, probably 11 or 12. It was after I had stopped playing with them myself.

Even at that time, when I couldn’t care less about Mattel’s best-selling product, those arguments never held up. I didn’t understand why anyone would look at a piece of plastic and think they should look like that. Barbie’s not real. Nor has she ever been advertised as such.

I didn’t understand why a doll with unrealistic proportions is scrutinized any more than, say cartoon characters. Why are Jessica Rabbit and that one Loony Toons nurse (you know the one) cool, but Barbie isn’t?

No argument against Barbie made sense to me. Now I’m an adult and I know a little more about how representation affects people of all ages, especially children. I understand these concerns. Yet, I still can’t bring myself to agree with them.

Barbie is a feminist. She has always been a role model for children.

Created in 1959, Barbie was conceived as a financially-independent working, single woman. Don’t talk to me about Ken; Barbie and Ken never married, and they actually broke up in 2004. Barbie, the character, has always been unmarried and solely financially independent.

Barbie was created during a time when the stay-at-home mom and breadwinner dad with 2.5 kids lifestyle was considered idyllic, but she went against that. Barbie’s creator, Ruth Handler, lived both the working woman and the stay-at-home mother lifestyles. She hated being a housewife and created Barbie as a means to show girls they “could be anything.”

That, to me, is inherently feminist.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I won’t defend everything Mattel has done as a company, or every decision they’ve made regarding their best-selling product. They’ve made some … bad choices in the last 60 years.

It took Mattel way too long to introduce dolls of color, and when they finally got around to it, it was an ill-planned and offensive disaster. Until this year, Mattel only had one disabled doll. Her hair would get caught in the wheelchair, which didn’t even fit inside any of the Barbie houses. They’ve recently capitalized off of Frida Kahlo’s image without her family’s consent.

Barbie has a recent line of dolls which come in various shapes, sizes and skin tones. You can argue that Mattel is making progress, an attempt to right past wrongs and allow more representation into its product. Or, you can argue that Mattel just wants to sell more clothes, since Barbie’s clothing for the first time in 60 years are not “one size fits all.”

I tend to think the latter, myself. Representation is only happening because it sells and there’s a reason Mattel has only begun taking huge strides in the past few years.

But even with the most cynical interpretations of Mattel’s marketing, I still think Barbie’s a feminist. She’s had every career imaginable from housewives to astronauts (she was an astronaut before women were even allowed in the field) and each is treated with as much importance as the other.

Being a feminist is partially about giving women choices and not judging them for the ones they make. A woman’s choice to become a stay-home mom is just as important as her choice to become a career woman. Many feminists will scoff at the idea of staying home, whereas many traditionalist will scoff at the idea of woman becoming the breadwinner. The Barbie brand is one of the few places where both choices are treated as equally exciting and important.