I’VE never really got all the fuss about Barbie. She’s just a doll, right?

Yet the haters have come gunning for her more than any other toy I can think of. For half a century Barbie has been ridiculed, analysed, demonised, accused of being stupid, submissive, slutty, and held accountable for generations of body dysmorphia. Blimey. I don’t recall Action Man coming under such scrutiny.

The much-hyped Barbie movie, released this week, which sees the fashion doll and her boyfriend Ken leave Barbieland for the real world, embraces her as a feminist icon. Is this the same Barbie who has long been attacked by feminists for presenting an impossible, irresponsible and damaging ideal of the female form?

Launched in 1959, Barbie was a vision of all-American beauty. At nearly 6ft tall, weighing 110lbs (it says so on Slumber Party Barbie’s pink weighing scales) with a 39in chest, 16in waist, 33in hips, stick-thin legs, and a neck twice as long as the average woman’s neck, she’d look rather odd as a real person. She’d struggle to walk or even lift her head, and there is no room for a full liver or intestine in her tiny frame. An early Barbie came with a diet book - it said ‘Don’t eat’.

Barbie didn’t age well. Her image became problematic. But gradually she evolved, and the mantra from today’s Barbie is: ‘You can be anything you want’. Mattel’s Career Barbie range includes firefighter, surgeon, astronaut, footballer and marine biologist. ‘Eco-leadership’ Barbies, made from recycled plastic, include Conservation Scientist, Chief Sustainability Officer and Renewable Energy Engineer.

I’m going to stick my (considerably shorter than Barbie’s) neck out here and say that Chief Sustainability Officer Barbie wouldn’t have appealed to the six-year-old me. I think ‘air hostess’ was as career oriented as my Barbie dolls got.

Full disclosure: I never had a ‘box fresh’ Barbie. My Barbies were passed down from my older cousins and by the time they reached me they were a bit grubby; their once-glossy hair clumsily chopped, felt tip make-up smudged on their faces. Their faded glamour saw them relegated, in my fickle hierarchy, once I got a brand new Daisy doll - whose outfits were designed by Mary Quant, no less. Like Sindy, Daisy had girl-next-door charm. Barbies were more like catty older sisters, who knew a thing or two.

All I wanted to do with my dolls was dress them up and play house with them. Occasionally one of them would marry an Action Man (they never hung around - my brother quickly reclaimed them for military duties). I wasn’t interested in my Barbie and Daisy dolls being neuro-physicists or renewable energy engineers. I just liked playing with them; brushing their hair, changing their outfits, clipping plastic shoes onto their tiny feet (size 3 in the real world, apparently).

Barbies have been demonised for having a negative impact on girls, but I think girls need to be given more credit. Barbie was a doll - not a role model. I wasn’t mentally scarred by her tiny waist and problematic thigh gap. She didn’t warp my sense of womanhood. I wanted a career for as long as I can remember, I was the first person in my family to go to university, and as a young woman I was proud to call myself a feminist.

Of course, Barbie had to evolve. She became very dated and over the years Mattel, her maker, has introduced dolls that reflect all women, in body size, ability and ethnicity. There are deaf Barbies, Barbies with Down’s syndrome, Barbies in wheelchairs. That needed to happen, but is Greta Gerwig’s ‘feminist’ Barbie film little more than a nod to inclusivity? After all, the lead Barbie in this film is a beautiful, thin, able-bodied blonde woman who wears pink. I didn’t see much diversity on the pink carpet at the London premiere.

This film will help to shift a lot of lucrative merchandise, and much of it will be pink. In an age of inclusive Barbies, and empowered princesses, little girls will continue to dress their dolls in pink outfits, cut their hair and smudge ‘make-up’ on their faces. And that’s fine, isn’t it?