Barbie: a serious objection!
Dear Siliconmom I just now read your article on Barbie, “The Other Woman,” at siliconmom.com. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot today since this afternoon I went to the birthday party of the just-turned six-year-old daughter of a friend of mine. I think, as I’m sure many others do, that there really isn’t anything wrong with Barbie per se. If a little girl wants a couple of Barbies to take on a make-believe tour of the USA in the Barbie motor home in the backyard, sure, go for it. Barbie comes in many incarnations — truly the modern woman. Karate Barbie, Malibu Beach Barbie, Palm Beach Barbie, Equestrian Barbie, Magic Jewel Barbie, etc. etc. And yes, she has an utterly laughable body, but I’ll bet Mom’s body is a lot more influential & is what is accepted as “normal” by most little girls. With that said, I have a very serious objection to Barbie. She has TAKEN OVER the average young girl’s (say, ages 3-8) party gifts. She and her kinship (Ken-ship? Ha ha) toys, like beauty this & makeup that. I find this narrow focus of gifts to little girls VERY disturbing. For example, here is what my friend’s child received this afternoon: 1. Morgan -- Beauty & the Beast DVD; 2. David -- British Groovy Girl wearing black leather mini-skirt & knee-high black-leather boots; 3. Leah -- Froggy Fortune Water Game, Ice Cream (I Scream) card game; 4. Margaret -- personalized art set (crayons, markers, paints, etc. in plastic case with “Rebecca” painted on it); 5. Erin -- Barbie play beauty set (20 pieces); 6. Becca -- Barbie Color Curls styling head; 7. Andrew -- another Groovy Girl (this one in a lavender mini-dress); 8. Veronica -- Kayla Mermaid Fantasy (looked like a Barbie to me); 9. Gabby -- Kelly Jumping Fun Castle (Kelly is Barbie’s sister, right?); 10. Lauren -- Magic Jewel Barbie; 11. Colby -- multi-colored ribbon hair bow, Barbie Fun Fabric Fashions; 12. Grant -- Barbie Ultimate Stamper Set; 13. Madeleine -- jump rope, picture story art paper pad, watercolors; 14. Sophie -- Barbie Palm Beach “Teresa” (evidently one of Barbie’s friends), some sort of ponytail holder/pen combo; 15. Hannah -- translucent blue makeup case with “Diva” painted on top, containing lollipop lip gloss, nail enamel, & some sort of “lip care” stuff; 16. Caroline -- Ladybug-shaped light-up makeup mirror with three lipsticks; 17. Justin -- “Hello, Kitty” Bond-A-Bead set (for making jewelry) And the sad thing (at least to me) is, this is the NORM at EVERY little girl’s party I go to! The NORM!!! I have been to several parties where the ONLY gift the little girl got that was not Barbie-, beauty-, doll-, or makeup-related was the one Leah gave her! At one recent party, the little girl got ONLY BARBIE STUFF except for the “disco ball” Leah gave her. (By the way, when I arrived to pick Leah up, that’s what everyone was playing with.) Another thing I’ve noticed is that only very seldom is a little girl given ANYTHING that is not immediately type-castable as a “girl toy.” I’ve been to many, many little girls’ birthday parties since my son (now 9) was born, and at ALL OF THEM, at least 75% of what the little girl received was Barbie, beauty, makeup, & doll stuff. (Another 10-15% will be jewelry, art stuff & videos.) Where are the science toys (e.g. Giant magnets or prisms or stomp rockets or archaeology stuff or periscopes or ...)? The board games & card games? The kickballs? The whiffle balls & bats? The play food & play kitchen stuff? The pool toys? The flashlights? The books? The gumball machines? The banks? The doctor kits (or nurse kits)? The kaleidoscopes? The Uncle Milton’s Ant Farms? The puzzles? The Tinker Toys or Lincoln Logs? The cash registers & play money? The water guns? The stilts? The bicycle horns? The blocks? The kites? Toy stores are full of toys!!! Can’t the average shopper find SOMETHING that didn’t come out of that Pink Aisle??? Also, ask yourself this: How many of those toys I listed up there strike people as something they would hesitate to give to a little girl? Many of them, I’ll wager. But WHY NOT? Why aren’t little girls getting ant farms and bicycle horns? Barbie, beauty, makeup, & dolls are fine & dandy when they represent 10% or 15% of what a young child receives. But when the percentage is 85-90%, alarm bells should go off! Is this focus on such “girly” stuff what we REALLY want for our daughters? It’s not what I want for mine. There’s a big world out there, folks! Let’s give our little girls permission to explore those other aisles in the store. Sincerely — Laura Courter ** Laura Courter is a 44-year-old mother of two children from Baton Rouge. She grew up a confirmed tomboy, got a bachelor’s in Math Education and a masters in Computer Science, and taught computer science at LSU for 15 years. She’s been home full-time with the kids since 1997 and has never once regretted that decision. Currently, in-between kids’ activities, she plays trumpet with her husband in three area bands, and drag races her 1969 Camaro. She can’t now recall whether or not she ever owned a Barbie, but she most certainly played with dolls! Her son calls Barbie, “Barfie” to annoy his little sister. © siliconmom