Predictably, my request for a Barbie free Christmas was met with protest and indignation, though well meaning.
It seems my political agenda is preventing my daughter from having the well-rounded girl’s childhood marketer’s intended. It’s only a doll, after all. And yes, I do let my daughter have other “girly” things, so why not Barbie Millicent Roberts?
When Barbie hit the scene in 1959, she was an independent lady. She bought her own cars and homes. She had boyfriends, but was not married, and she had several interesting careers. When I look at today’s store shelves I see a lot of princess themed Barbie dolls, but nothing else. Barbie’s official site offers other careers.
What really scares me is how media already controls so much of our culture, and is promoting specific and unattainable beauty standards everywhere. Buy more, more, more to look like this altered image of a female! My daughter, four years old, has already complained about having a “big belly,” that’s “not like doll bellies.” Now this issue can’t simply be about toys. In our case, I make doubly sure not to voice my own body insecurities, and I try to talk about eating healthy and exercise more. It’s interesting teaching a daughter at the same time as re-teaching yourself.
When looking up Barbie’s body proportions I read some comments after this BBC article. Why are we so focused on Barbie’s proportions? Not all toy proportions are realistic. See a former anorexic’s project with her built “real-life” Barbie here. Barbie’s contributing factor to eating disorders can be debated. Truth is triggers are so personal and change case by case.
I’m not anti-pink, far from. Peggy Orenstein wrote in Cinderella Ate My Daughter, “Just because little girls wear the tulle does not mean they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.” No, eliminating Barbie from my household (I don’t interfere with her dad allowing them at his) will not guarantee a confident child, but it’s a small step. The girl has a sea of toys, the lack of Barbie will not prevent her from being a kid with an imagination. Maybe if Barbie was more interesting I wouldn’t mind so much. I tried giving her a shot and watched a Barbie movie with my buddy, his niece and P. It was about a young woman giving up her job to go to charm school and bag a prince. I’d rather my money go elsewhere.
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