barbie.jpgI was never allowed a Barbie. My mother  was a student of the 68 era, so Barbie went against all of her principles. I was even taught at the tender age of four why Barbie was so wrong.

I think I must have been a little know-it-all, as I would consequently lecture my little girl friends about how they should not play with Barbies: the dolls were an insult to feminist ideals…. imagine how popular that made me on the playground!

Now that I have two daughters myself, I have mixed feelings about Barbie. I am still ingrained with my mother’s zealousness, but I also come from a much less radical generation and cannot really see the harm in a doll. Actually my main gripe with Barbie is a lot more superficial: I find her kind of ugly….

Barbie is about to turn 50 and has survived all the polemic surrounding her and yet the pro and anti Barbie debate goes on.

I read this article in the UK Guardian which presents the pro and con side of the Barbie debate. (If you have a few minutes to spare check the picture gallery that goes with the article, some of the Barbie outfits are kind of cool!)

Personally, I am not going to rush out and buy a Barbie for my girls, but I am guessing that if they are given one as a present, I am not going to feel strongly enough to confiscate it from them.

– Emilie


Comments (11)

January 9, 2009

Growing up in Italy meant that opinions about Barbie dolls were less strong and less polarised. I had barbie dolls, a few of them. I loved them, I played with them, gave them hairdos, changed their clothes… I played a lot with my sister and my schoolfriends. Much better than watching the tv probably.
I was never one for traditional dolls, I never liked to play mummy-and-baby that much! Barbie dolls lived a more adult, independent and more interesting life.
I never considered it a role model, but it’s true that barbie was doing a lot of interesting jobs…so maybe not that bad.
Plus the critique about giving children wrong body-image ideas…well these days there are much worse role models around!
True Barbie lived a sort of plastic fake country-club life, but some of these days teen-agers idols are probably no better!!
To wrap up, I’m not rushing out to buy the first barbie to my daughter… but she’ll be allowed to ask one to Santa when the time comes.
At this stage (13months) she seems not very attracted to her lovely corolle doll i’m afraid, that must be her brother’s influence!!

January 9, 2009

This is quite timely. What I read this very morning in Metro (OK not the most reliable source I have to admit!) about the creator of the Barbie doll somehow disturbed me (let’s just say that his morality was not bulletproof and that his motives for creating Barbie were maybe more personal than we could have imagined).

I guess we do not have to tell our daughters about that (!) but it does leave a bitter taste in the mouth, doesn’t it? Or is it me? I was raised as Emilie – no Barbie policy – but my daughter who is almost 5 years old likes the Barbie doll, she is not mad about them but she plays well with them. I exercise control over the ones she gets (I prefer the old fashion ones actually) and have been happy like that (so far!).

January 9, 2009

I LOVED Barbies! My sister and I had an entire room devoted to them! 🙂
(I guess my mom wasn’t as concerned with the feminine ideals, etc.)

I agree with Michela — there are much worse role models out there!!

January 9, 2009

I loved my Barbies and my most memorable Xmas gift ever was the Barbie camper trailer. I still remember that Xmas morning like it was yesterday. I agree with Courtney and Michela, we could do worse in terms of role models. At least Barbies can be doctors, vets, lawyers, whatever they want to be. I wish I could say the same for the Disney princesses most little girls around here worship. I am thankful my daughter is not interested in the princesses at all…at least for the time being.

January 10, 2009

I also was never allowed a Barbie. Well, I had one (a fake one I think), but wasn’t too interested (I wasn’t much into dolls to start with) and it was clear my mum dissapproved! I don’t think it had much to do with feminism, but more with the fact that it was considered a bit tacky? My friend had the house, the stables, the pick-up truck, the swimming pool, Ken, horses – the whole thing. It was fun playing with all of this, but I understood how this was considered ‘over the top’ to my parents. But we are talking the Netherlands in the ’70’s/’80’s of course – I think it must have been different in all cultures / countries.
My feelings about Barbie are like Michela and Emilie: I’m not going to run to the store to get my daughter one…

Christine V
January 10, 2009

The anit-Barbie part of that article was pretty hostile! That said, I had no idea she was based on the porn industry. I have pretty mixed feelings – Yes, she’s a doll, but I agree it isn’t the best body image to present – there are lots of different dolls with more ‘realistic’ proportions and that are less sexual and they too can be accessorized with the same type of outfits. There certainly are a lot worse role models you could come up with, but I think there are a lot better ones also. I haven’t actually bought any for my older daughter (just turned 3) yet, but she’s already been given 5.
I don’t see myself buying Barbies anytime soon, but I’m not planning to hide the ones my daughter already has or may receive in the future. And I guess it’s not a bad starting point when the time comes to talk about dreaming big dreams and role models….

January 12, 2009

goodness, growing up I thought I was the only one who wasn’t allowed barbies! I am the oldest in my family, my sisters who are 6 and 10 years younger than me were both allowed them however, I never found out why? though it may have been that I ended up the most concerned about what I look like…maybe that could be linked to wanting the unattainable or my rebelious streak because I wasn’t given them, I don’t know. I must say the biggest reality check for me (having played with friends barbies whenever I got the opportunity!) was not that I couldn’t look like Barbie but the fact that I didn’t have the same control over the Ken in my life 🙂 All this said, I don’t have a daughter and have never before considered whether I would buy a Barbie if I did, I am surprised on considereation I would say no. That said, my son is never going to grow up able to change into a car or shoot from his arms, but I still (reluctantly) bought him Power Ranger toys because by the time he got to school it was all he wanted, popular childrens toys are increasingly about the unrealistic. I hope this doesn’t stem from skewed creator views and obsessions but I guess it is best to view toys as a child does as toys…jeez I think too much!

January 14, 2009

I had a dozen barbies growing up and would get together with my friend who had a slew of barbies as well. to us, Barbie was all about creativity, playing house, making our own story lines and dressing them up…granted, there was a period of time when her boobs were a main topic of conversation :). before i had 2 girls, i grappled with the concept of allowing my daughters play with barbies but just remembered the countless hours of fun i had with them. I think body images and negative roll models come from so many other sources than we can blame barbie for…

January 14, 2009

OK, I see your point Michele. But can it not be any other sort of doll? I wonder why exactly it needs to be a Barbie – there are plenty of dolls that come with clothes. If it’s about creativity, a child doesn’t need much…

January 22, 2009

i know that i love to play barbie but know that I’m matured i never play it again. It’s not wrong to have a name barbie, if i for you i thank to the person who name that to me. When i was a young girl I’m always playing my barbie doll, changing her clothes, taking her bath and she is always at my side. But don’t give too much a doll to your baby because it will her personalty……………

April 16, 2010

Ha I never realized my mom wasnt the only one not allowing barbie dolls! She thought they were tacky and innappropriate too so i felt embarrassed to want or play with them. I was more interested in muffy vanderbear which unfortunately is no longer made for playing, just collecting! Recently at someone elses house my daughters saw a barbie for the first time and were SMITTEN. Thought i think it’s because she’s an adult and has long hair.
In looking for other dolls I found two interesting brands. Only hearts club, and Moxie.

Other favorites of mine were cottage kritters (still around with LOADS of accessories and houses) and i had a beautiful red wooden doll house my daughters still play with today.

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