I was vehemently against white ice skates as a little girl. I wanted black ones, just like the boys. And I also preferred jeans to the frilly dresses my mother shoved me into for an unnatural amount of years. But I loved Barbie. Like, loved, loved Barbie.
She was a huge part of my childhood. When family members were dealing with severe illnesses and cancer , Barbie was a great form of escapism. And since I was into the theater as a youngin’, my box of Barbie dolls and Kens made great cast members for the many Roger and Hammerstein plays I would act out along to the videos. I was also known for putting on a lovely rendition of Evita and during my Sophomore year of college I did my 60’s essay on this iconic, plastic chameleon.
I admit I scoff – no, hack—quite loudly when people talk about Barbie being a negative role model. As a young girl I never expected to look like Barbie growing up (who had perfectly pointed feet all the time?) and the doll allowed me exercise my imagination. What happened to mothers (and fathers) talking to their daughters about beauty and realism in ways that let them form their own opinions? Barbie was created during a time when women didn’t have a choice outside of being a house wife. She was borne out of a desire to encourage girls to imagine multiple lives they could have for themselves. Isn’t that what we want for our daughters? What is so hard about taking the time to have the aforementioned discussion above? In a nutshell, Barbie is to me as Beyonce is to so many women: say anything bad about her and I’ll be quick to speak up.
So when I was browsing the shelves at our “sister” Goodwill, it only made sense to pick up this coffee table book about Barbie published in 1998 (on her 40th anniversary.) Modeled in front of simple backgrounds, Barbie shows off her outfits, hairstyles, eye shadow designs, and perhaps a few fashion faux pas—but what every day woman hasn’t had a few of those?
I certainly won’t force my daughter to play with Barbie, but if she ever wants to I won’t hold her back! I’ll let her diverse set of Barbie dolls be dancers, politicians, chefs, photographers, bloggers (oh, that would be so cool if Mattel came out with a blogger Barbie with hipster glasses and a little laptop), or brain surgeons. I’ll draw the line at Monsanto Executive or Oil Lobbyist, though! 😉