Friday, April 16, 2010

Barbie Is not My Role Model

I would like to clear something up. Lots of people get all worked up about Barbie and her unrealistic appearance and superficial little careers and enormous boobs and so on. They say that she's a role model for girls and they're negatively affected by her unattainable figure and fancy career choices and that's why we're all fat and self conscious and insecure. I say no.

I spent countless hours of my childhood playing with Barbie and never once considered her a role model. She's a doll. Something I could dress up in ugly 80's dresses and give atrocious, non-reversable haircuts. Not something that gave me my self-worth or influenced my feelings about myself. I really didn't care if my Barbie was a flight attendant or doctor or garbage woman because seconds after I opened her, her "career" clothes were tossed into my ever growing mound of Barbie clothes and she was instantly as naked as the day she was born.

If anything, I projected my dreams onto my Barbies. Sometimes I'd make them singers. Sometimes I'd make them moms. Sometimes they'd be marrying Ken. And most of the time they were all three. I dressed them up the way I wanted in outfits that probably didn't match. I made them live out the little pretend life I chose for them.

It never once occurred to me that Barbie was skinny. Or that I should ever even look like that. Or that I should be a doctor because my Barbie was. She was just my doll that I could put lots of dresses on and make all pretty. That's what dolls are for. It's the people on TV and in movies that make me feel fat. Real actual living people. Not a doll.

I often wonder if the people who think Barbie is evil ever actually played with them as kids because they clearly have no understanding of the fun of Barbie. I suppose it's possible that they're just the Lisa Simpons of the world who, as 6-year-olds, sat around analyzing the affects their Barbies were having on them, finally deciding they were causing feelings of inadequacy before moving on to less offensive toys. This sounds like a depressing, boring childhood.

So everyone needs to just calm down. It's just a doll. Barbie was never such a destructive force until we made her one. Let's just let her be a toy instead of some big commentary on our society. There may be some young girls out there who have been adversely affected by their Barbie dolls, but if this is really happening, it seems to me that would only be pointing to a deeper issue. One that can't be fixed by something as simple as taking away a kid's dolls.

Ok, I will end my rant now. Let's just talk about how fun Barbies are. All my old ones are still in my mother's garage. I had a Little Mermaid one whose legs turned green after I took her in the bathtub with her fin on. It was worth it.

Then there was the one whose hair I cut so short (maybe by accident) that I started using her as a Ken doll instead. This sounds disturbing, but it's not. A little girl never ever has enough Ken dolls, so we do some crazy things out of desperation.

More recently, I've collected a few of the My Fair Lady Barbies. Scott bought me two of them a couple years ago for my birthday, shortly after we started dating. That might be when I knew I was going to marry him.

These are special to me because as a child I was obsessed with My Fair Lady and all I wanted was an Eliza doll. Apparently they were impossible to find in 1987, so I never got one. Now I have four. And it's heavenly.

1 comment:

Kara said...

the only comment i can say is a huge, huge DITTO!

i loved playing with my barbies - and often made them change "careers" about 50 times in 30 minutes. it is indeed the 'real' people on tv and in movies who cause the self-esteem issues...

"So everyone needs to just calm down" - yes.

(and i loved taking my barbies in the tub - when i could sneak them past my mother, that is...)