Today was a banner day in the lives of my children. We went to Target and they picked out their first Barbie Doll. It was not an easy decision for them. So many Barbies and Mummy said they could only get one. After much back and forth and thinking and perusing, their decisions were made. And we entered into the world of that amply endowed, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, skinny girl, who never ages. Barbie.
But let me back up. Why is this a Banner Day you ask? What is the big deal? She is just a doll after all?
“Just a DOLL?”. No no. You don’t know me at all, do you?
The first thing you should know about me is that I don’t like clutter (but we will go into that at a later time). The second thing you should know about me is that I don’t like plastic toys. The third thing you should know about me is that I don’t like disposable toys with small bits and excessive packaging. The philosophy I subscribe to is “Less is More”. So Barbie, of course, is the antithesis of any of this. She is ALL about the excess. And lets not even forget about her ‘image’ and her ‘lifestyle’. Clearly my girls are neither blue-eyed or blonde-haired. I never want them to think that THAT is the standard of beauty. Skinny, Tall, Big Boobed. And apart from appearances, the whole notion of needing a Ken to make her live happily ever after.
But here is the thing. My kids, who are 5 and 3, they don’t see any of that. Not one bit. Just as when they play with kids in their school, they don’t see colour, height, weight or hair. For them she is just a doll with clothes and they can imagine all sorts of worlds with her. On the way home in the car, they were saying to each other (speaking for their dolls), ‘I wonder when I will get married to the boy! I want to get married!’. So I explained that she doesn’t have to marry just a boy . Sometimes boys marry other boys (well if the USA comes of age in the near future!), girls marry girls, sometimes children just have one parent.. there are all kinds of families. So they listened and repeated ‘But I WANT TO MARRY A BOY!’. Okay.
I know Barbies spark many an emotion in parents. Fond memories of their own childhoods, fear of what Barbies mean to our mainstream culture, why she is not eco-friendly and the very many petroleum based resources that go into the making of her and her packaging, the humour of looking for teeny tiny golden shoes in a Target parking lot (if you saw me there today and were wondering why the insane lady was walking verrrrry slowly backtracking her way to the cash register, now you know).
You had to be there today in Target to see the priceless expression on her face when she got to pick out her Barbie. The biggest lesson Barbie teaches ME is that sometimes it is okay to let go of your beliefs, there are exceptions to the rule, you don’t have to fit into a parenting mould and very rarely, more is more.