This month Mattel revealed the latest incarnations of Barbie and Ken, the fashion dolls, which have been designed to be more inclusive by displaying a diverse range of characteristics. There are now dolls with disabilities, a huge variety of hair styles and even some with the skin condition vitiligo.
And while we should probably applaud their effort, it’s disappointing to note just how unrepresentative the range still is. Despite Barbie being 63 years old, there are absolutely no tweed-wearing Kens in the 50+ age bracket.
Barbie herself appears to be doing incredibly well for her age. Although some versions of her are now confined to a wheelchair, benefiting from a prosthetic leg, or wearing a hearing aid, all of the Barbies in the latest range look remarkably young – reflective, perhaps, of the audience that we’re expecting for next weekend’s Ladies Day, although slightly less so of the typical crowd of National Hunt enthusiasts that we see for the main part of our Winter season. For example, I can’t see any dolls that come equipped with a copy of Timeform and The Racing Post, although there are a few that sport binoculars – who I suspect will be backing our Saturday selection, the Alan King trained Greystoke in the final race at Stratford.
Not that we don’t attract a culturally diverse crowd at Kelso. The racecourse is known for its warm, friendly atmosphere and we’re delighted to welcome racegoers from all the border towns. Heavens, sometimes we even get visitors from Edinburgh – and they are welcome too!
But the Ladies Day atmosphere will attract a significantly younger demographic than for most of our fixtures. It’s a social event, one that almost all customers will make a special effort to dress up for – some in the hope of scooping one of the awards, worth thousands of pounds, for the most stylish racegoers. Prizes include: a bespoke, made to measure suit (courtesy of A Hume); a personal shopping experience worth £1,000 (which includes £650 worth of vouchers for the local fashion chain Inis); a luxury stay at the Schloss Roxburghe Hotel; and a tour of the Edinburgh Gin distillery.
There’s the After Party too – a music infused dance fest in the centre of the racecourse intended to extend the entertainment for the region’s youngsters long after the last horse has passed the post.
Although don’t let me give you the impression that age is a barrier to dancing or dressing with style. Form is temporary; class, as they say, is permanent – and just because the designers of Mattel’s latest toys are ageist and out of touch, everyone is welcome at Kelso to enjoy Ladies Day, tweed-clad dad dancers too.