It was inevitable that Barbie would wind up in our house at some point. After all we have a daughter born in America. I had hoped my little gal would at least have been able to hold up her end of a body image conversation before that happened. However, our three-year-old opened her first Barbie this Christmas and that blonde bimbo cruised right into her life atop a powder blue convertible.
The anti-feminist and anti-healthy body image accusations hurled in Barbie’s direction have always felt right to me, so I’ve been wary of shrugging off claims that Babs is “just a doll.” When my girl opened the Barbie my body tensed while I tried to ignore the voice shouting “eating disorder ahead!” thinking that if I didn’t make it a big deal, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Then I relaxed.
Perhaps I’m just justifying my disinclination to toss out a perfectly good toy that my daughter can spend hours dressing and undressing, but role models promoting anorexia aren’t only made from plastic and I do have high hopes that my girl will also notice that Barbie’s legs don’t bend and realize that this is not an accurate representation of a healthy woman and therefore she should not try to mold herself into her vinyl image.
(It should be noted that I didn’t even have a Barbie and still had angst over my not-very-Barbie figure. My own mother decided Darci was a better role model. Darci, the Amazonian brunette who might have been statuesque and not as busty, yet still managed to give me a complex because Darci could not fit into Barbie’s clothes when my friends would gather our sex symbols for an afternoon of tea drinking and/or awkward water sliding.)
So Barbie is here, packing her suitcase and strapping it to the back of her car for an afternoon in the country. And I think I’m going to let her stay for a while. At least long enough to encourage my daughter to give her a Mohawk.