September 28, 2009

I'm a Barbie Girl


When my daughters had their birthday party last weekend, one guest gave each of them a Barbie. The mom, who only has sons, asked me if it was OK for my girls to play with Barbies. Ummmm... yeah. You see, the liberal, "girl power" side of me cannot come to terms with the notion that Barbie is supposed to be evil.
I grew up with Barbie. My Barbies were my favorite toys... ever. I have a box in my basement full of Barbies and another box full of clothes. I spent hours playing with my Barbies through sixth grade when it was no longer cool to play with dolls. Sure, I brushed their hair and dressed them in fancy clothes, but playing with Barbie was more than just playing dolls.
Each doll in my "Barbieverse" had a name and a specific role. I made up elaborate stories and acted them out with my Barbies. Barbie sparked tons of creative play for me.
I know, I know, if a real woman had those proportions she would fall over. Let me break this to you gently... Barbie is a doll. Shortly after my daughters were born they each received a doll that was the same length my girls were at birth. I like to point this out to them every now and then when they're playing baby dolls so they have some concept of how small they were. But here's the kicker: Sue Sue's doll is a chubby little thing. Sue Sue may have been the biggest at birth at a whopping two pounds four ounces, but she didn't have the chubby cheeks or meaty legs this doll has. Where is the outcry over baby dolls whose proportions don't add up?
Barbie is a bad role model? I seem to remember her motto during my childhood being "We girls can do anything." And my Barbie did. She wasn't limited to her wedding dresses and ball gowns. She had adventures and kicked butt along the way.
If my daughters want to play with Barbie, I'm all for it. It's more about playing with a doll and making up stories, than which doll their playing with. But if they ever decided they like Bratz dolls it will be whole different story.

8 comments:

MaryAnne said...

My mom was anti-Barbie, but my Great-Aunt (who was an extra grandmother of sorts) gave me one when I was four or five years old. So, my mom had to let me keep it. Sure, the proportions were way off, but I saw the doll as a doll, not a mini adult. She went on crazy adventures on the farm we lived on at the time, and I dressed her up in all sorts of crazy outfits using scraps of material. I probably would have kept her forever, but my parents made me leave her behind when we moved when I was six. Emma doesn't currently own any Barbies, but I'm not banning them from my house. I'll probably even help her make them clothes when they arrive. Isn't parenthood partly about reliving your own childhood?

But I'm with you on Bratz dolls - what's with the name, for starters...

Sadia said...

Ha! Agreed on Bratz.

I was anti-Barbie as a child, but had no problem with my sister playing with them. They haven't come up yet at our house. The dolls we do have are somewhat abandoned, probably because we don't spend enough time at home.

Quadmama said...

Every Christmas my grandmother would give me clothes for my Barbie that she bought at a local craft fair. I couldn't wait to see the new creations. They were so much better than the store bought clothes.

Stephanie B said...

I don't mean to sound deprived, but I didn't have dolls. At all. I wanted 'em, but with three younger siblings, it never really worked out that way or I got dolls about five years after my interest had waned.

My kids have dolls as they show interest, and, yes, I gave one to my son before his baby sister was born. I'm all for creativity and for whatever method gets you there.

Quadmama said...

I think it's great that your son has a doll. I've always found it odd that some people think that's a huge no-no.

Claroux said...

My girls will be three next month and Chloe asked for a "Belle doll" for her birthday. My tough little Maddie asked for a blue car. Regardless, I found myself initially thinking..."Barbies are bad for their developing self-image...blah blah blah." I grew up with Barbies and loved them as much as you did. And I am not damaged. My Barbies went camping AND went to fancy balls. The best gift EVER was the Barbie Dream House. I still remember almost dropping over dead when I saw it under the Christmas tree. I was also a HUGE fan of homemade clothes. My Grandmother crocheted me a Barbie wedding dress and four bridesmaid dresses for her friends one Christmas. I still have the wedding dress and it's still beautiful. My Mom made LOTS of barbie clothes for me and sometimes even matching outfits for me. Whatever fabric was leftover from what she sewed for me was turned into a Barbie dress!

PS - thanks for commenting on my blog. Let me just say that I am in AWE of you. FOUR??? Seriously....FOUR???? There is a special place in heaven for you!!! It's also a relief to see that your girls are four and you're still alive. there's hope for me yet :-)

Quadmama said...

You had the Barbie Dream House? I am so jealous! I always wanted that or the town house that had the elevator in it.

twinmama said...

I couldn't agree more with this! I loved playing with my Barbies when I was little. I think there are way too many other places that will try to teach young girls about physical appearances and unrealistic expectations. As you said, playing with dolls sparks creativity and there is much value in this.

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