The other day at work my coworkers and I were having a discussion about the awesome games/toys we played with growing up as children of the late 80′s/early 90′s.
Mall Madness, Dream Phone, Girl Talk. Do those games ring a bell for any of you?
I can still hear the mechanical voice form Mall Madness saying “There is a sale at the sunglasses boutique.”
At some point in the conversation, we started talking about Barbie dolls, and how much we all loved playing with them when we were growing up.
My mom and I used to play with Barbies for hours while my brother napped. We’d take them to the “mall” and dress them up and make them try on outfits for hours.
(Ok usually this consisted of my mom dressing the Barbies because I had a hard time getting their clothes on, but you know it still counts.)
When my brother was older and had amassed a collection of Batman toys, we used play together, and Batman would take Barbie on dates in the Batmobile (My brother will now kill me for telling that story on the Internet…sorry little bro).
As my coworkers and I were laughing and exchanging Barbie stories, we hit upon the topic that almost everyone talks about these days when it comes to Barbie.
Does she give girls a bad body image?
This train of thought drives me completely freaking bananas.
I cannot tell you how sick I am of hearing people say Barbie is the reason that some girls hate their bodies.
Barbie is nothing more than a toy. Sure she has massive boobs and a teeny tiny waist and if she were a real person she wouldn’t be able to survive with those proportions. I get that.
But as a little girl, I can tell you I honestly didn’t pick up on it or care. I just wanted Barbie to have some cute clothes (this makes me laugh now because I am the least fashion forward person in the world) and to go on fun adventures in the Barbie Jeep.
Most of my Barbies were hand-me-downs from my cousins (as was about half my wardrobe as a kid). I played with them because my cousins at one point thought they were super cool, so obviously they must have been.
Growing up, I didn’t want to be or look like Barbie. I wanted to be just like my cousins. Real people that I thought were sooooo beyond cool because they were older than me and allowed to do stuff I wasn’t. Like wear perfume and eat white bread and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Back in the day I thought that was a huge privlege. My mom wouldn’t buy stuff like that.
Fun fact: Even though we’re all grown up, I still think my cousins are some of the most awesome people around and if I grow up to be just like them, it wouldn’t be a bad thing.
I don’t think we give kids enough credit. I mean, I don’t know too many people who say they want to grow up and be just like a toy. More often, I hear kids say they want to be teachers or astronauts or firefighters.
So I think it’s crap when people blame Barbie.
Sure I had my fair share of insecurities growing up, most kids do, but I can promise it wasn’t because I didn’t look just like Barbie.
For the record, my parents packed up all my Barbies when I grew out of them and put them in storage. My mom said we’d save them so I could let my own daughter play with them some day.
If/when I grow up/get married/have kids, I would have no problem with my kids playing with Barbies. I don’t think they send a bad message to little girls. I think they are a toy, one of many in the world, that kids can play with, and that’s it.
So I vote we stop blaming a toy for kids’ body image issues because are we really OK with giving a toy that much power?