I was never allowed Barbie dolls when I was little. The first born child of hippie-era parents, I suffered many similar quirky rules, but not being allowed a Barbie doll stung more than others. My parents felt that Barbie dolls “represented an unrealistic image of the female form” (their words, mouthed by my five-year old self when explaining to playdates why we were forced to play with Sunshine and her camper family).
I’ll give them this, Sunshine Dad was a lot more hands-on as a father than Ken ever would have been!
Today I see images of what Barbie’s measurements would be had she been an actual living woman, and I think maybe my parents were on to something. Maybe the sexualization of dolls that young girls play with can lead to serious problems like eating disorders and more.
But by the time my youngest sister was in school, my parents had
given up re-prioritized and allowed Laura a full collection of Barbies. She wasn’t scarred for life, and as far as I can tell we share similar fairly similar values about body image and the roles of women in society. These values proably have a lot more to do with growing up in a household with a mother who worked full-time, returned to university as an adult, and a father who always told us that we could do anything we wanted, than with what plastic figurine we played with.
Now I have a five-year old of my own, and I struggle with some of the decisions about what’s appropriate for her to be playing with. Bratz dolls will never enter my house, and I’m not even sure how I feel about a Hanna Montana figurine. But Barbie’s welcome. She’s changed over the last few decades, and while her measurements are still a little wonky, storybooks, dvds and feature films have somehow “fleshed her out”, and allowed my daughter to realize she’s more than just her awesome figure. She’s as strong as one of the three muskateers and as creative as a top fashion designer.
When I watched my daughter and niece watching the latest Barbie adventure on dvd, Barbie: A Fairy Secret, I was not concerned that they were dreaming of growing up to look just like Barbie. I could see the wheels turning in their little heads, and I was much more convinced that they were wondering what mess Ken had gotten himself into now, and just how Barbie was going to save the day!
For your chance to win a Barbie: A Fairy Secret prize pack consisting of the newest Barbie dvd and doll (total prize value $50), leave a comment below. Did you have rules growing up that you’ve kept for your own children, or changed completely?
You have until 9am EST on Friday, March 18th. Winner will be chosen by random.org. GOOD LUCK!