Sunday, September 8, 2013
The Case FOR Barbie
I can practically hear the eye-rolling as I type. Yes, I am making a case FOR the Barbie doll. I know, I know... I have a daughter! How can I possibly let my little Peach play with a doll that will make her hate her own body, and teach her that boobs and blonde hair are all that matters? Well, to begin with, I happen to be a former fan of Barbie myself.
I don't exactly remember getting my first Barbie doll, but I DO, very clearly in fact, remember the year that I got Peaches and Cream Barbie and Ken. Oh, how I wanted that beautiful peachy couple!!! And when we went to my Auntie Mets house that Christmas morning, oh so long ago, my wish came true. As I tore through the wrapping paper, I started to see that incredible flowing peach gown, with the orange flower tied around the waist and the stole--the stole!--that could be arranged in so, so many different ways, and I was almost too excited to breathe! Yes, the bodice of the dress was a weird plastic-y, snake pattern with super stiff pointy boobs, but OH, that dress was breathtaking! And then, in the second package, was handsome Ken, with his molded plastic head of hair, and just as dashing as ever, with his tuxedo to match Barbie's dress. I could see my dreams and they were peach polyester perfection.
And now, my daughter is carrying on my love of fashion dolls. She will be five years old tomorrow (I know! OMG! That is a whole other issue in itself!) and basically all she has asked for is Barbie. Oh sure, there are a few ponies and fairies in the mix, but mostly Barbie.
Now let me explain to you why it does not bother me that my little girl is infatuated with Babs.
Barbie has been around for a long time. Has it always been perfect? No, probably not. But it was invented as a PLAY THING. You know, something to inspire IMAGINATION in little girls (and boys, no judging here!). I realize that most toys now give you step by step instructions on how to play with them and which piece goes where and what house they should live in, etc, etc. But, the Barbie doll does not come with instructions. Ever thought about that? No instructions necessary, because the doll inspires girls to act out scenarios with friends, family, pets, and so many other things.
Which leads me right into the fact that Barbie has done pretty much everything and anything. What other doll out there has been a computer programmer, a doctor, an astronaut, a scientist, an architect, a weather girl, a soccer star, a ballerina, a fairy, a mermaid, an actress, a teacher, a big sister, a wife, a friend, and oh so much more? Let's be honest. No other doll has ventured into that many fields. I think it is pretty cool that Barbie knows no limitations. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. Someone could say, "Oh Barbie, you KNOW a girl can't run for president," and watch how quickly she proves them wrong. Now, THAT is the kind of confidence I want my daughter to have as she grows up.
Ok, sure, she is a fashionista on top of all that. But, really. Show me a woman that wouldn't love a closet full of designer clothes and shoes and I'll show you.... well, nothing. I will show you nothing because I don't think you will find her.
Since we are talking about how Barbie looks, we might as well get to the heart of the matter. A lot of people dislike Ms. Roberts because of her looks. Oh, what? You didn't think she has a last name? Of course she does! Google it! That is right, Barbara Millicent Roberts is put through the gauntlet nearly every day because of her looks. Here is the deal from my humble perspective... She is a DOLL. Of course her proportions are weird! If she was life-size, she would look like a freak. But she is not life-size, she is a doll. I don't see anyone wigging out over the fact that Tinkerbell has wings. OMG! She has wings! Little girls around the world are going to start hating themselves because they CAN'T HAVE THEIR OWN WINGS!!!! What about Monster High? (don't even get me started on those dolls, but bear with me, I am making a point.) I don't imagine that girls are sitting around saying, "Woe is me! I just want purple skin and stitches all over my body to make me beautiful!!!!" And why is that? I am guessing because they understand that Monster High and Tinkerbell are CHARACTERS, not actual people. Let's give our future female population some credit here. And while we are at it.... Cabbage Patch Kids are like real babies? Sure, if your head is abnormally gigantic, your 3 fingers are sewn together and your feet look more like balloons with nubs on the end than actual feet. See what I mean? Imagination, people.
Now, besides her body, B is usually blonde with blue eyes. As a short, sorta stubby, brown-eyed, brown-(sometimes purple)-haired girl, I can't say it really bothers me. I mean, I am kinda used to it. Saying that only Barbie makes blonde the "beauty standard" would be like saying only McDonald's holds the French Fry standard of the world. Plus, if you go down the Barbie aisle these days, you will find that she has friends of many hair color and ethnicity. Wouldn't it be weird if you went to the store one day and found Asian Dora? Shyeah! Dora is a Latina little girl. Just like Barbie is a blonde American. And Doc McStuffins is an African-American, and Kai-lan is Asian, and Twilight Sparkle is a pony, and Hello Kitty is a cat. They are what they are.
I know someone who once told me she would never buy her daughter a Barbie doll because she didn't like the look or attitude that Barbie portrayed. She didn't like that Barbie made it so "unrealistic" to be a woman. Now, she has a daughter who obsesses over the entire Barbie aisle at the toy store. And, well, I think you can see where this is going...
Barbie, my dear friends, is not the enemy. She is just a doll, with a penchant for fashion, that wants to make her mark on the world. Just like so many other fine women that I know in real life. And yes, I am looking forward to seeing Peach's eyes sparkle tomorrow morning, on her 5th birthday, when she wakes up and opens a long-dreamed-for Barbie doll to add to her collection.