Plastic Role Models+comment
While we were growing up my sister and I had a lot of Barbie dolls. And I mean a LOT. Like, a steamer trunk full of them. We had beach Barbies and wedding Barbies and ballroom Barbies. Of course, we also had career girl Barbies. We had doctor Barbie and veterinarian Barbie and Navy Barbie and Flight Attendant Barbie (of course, she was probably called “Stewardess Barbie” then. It was the 90s).
Our mother whole heartedly encouraged our Barbie play time. We were using our imaginations, we were playing together, and we were quiet. A win all around! However, I’ve heard that some mothers were not as pleased with Barbie dolls, doctors or not. They felt that Barbie promoted a negative self-image.
I was lucky enough to have been raised by a mother that instilled self-confidence and pride in her daughters and never told us that we had to look or act a certain way. I suppose I can see how Barbie could wreak havoc on a young girl’s self-esteem, but she had so much girl power behind her. For every “wedding day” Barbie, there was a Barbie with a career, a Barbie with her own house and car, a Barbie having it ALL.
Truthfully, I’m a little more concerned about the dolls that today’s girls are encouraged to play with. I happened to wander through the toy aisle at Target the other day and was surprised by the fashion dolls on the market these days. Sure, Barbie still has her rightful place, but she’s got some competition, too. I know that much ado has been made over Barbie’s physically impossible body, but she’s got nothing on some of these dolls. It’s not their proportions, it’s the way they’re dressed. Pardon my language, but they look like little skanks!
Kids grow up so fast these days. Seven year olds are learning things that I didn’t discover until high school! It’s a sad state of the world. I know that they’re going to be exposed to things that aren’t necessarily good for them. It’s hard to protect them in a world full of internet links and adult content all over TV. However, they don’t need to get negative ideas from their toys. Playtime is when a little girl should be just that – a little girl. Some dolls (Barbie included), come complete with iPhones and Blackberries and everything one needs to be a “teenager.” What’s wrong with fairies and princesses? Many little girls are eager to be grown-ups. I know that I wanted to be a “big girl.” So I carried one of my mom’s old purses and painted my fingernails (with Tinkerbell polish). It was a game. And, at the end of the day, I washed my face and crawled into my Disney Princess sheets.
It’s hard enough to find your place in the world when you’re growing up. Girls face tons of peer pressure, from their girlfriends and their boyfriends. They think they have to look a certain way, act a particular way and hang out with the right crowd in order to be cool. It’s a rough period, those teenage years. Why not spend as much time being a fairy princess as you can? Try not to rush things. There’s plenty of time to be a grown up.