Friday, June 5, 2009

Barbie Rant: Long Time Coming?

I vaguely remember playing with Barbie as a child. I had a couple dolls myself, but mostly I played with them at my friend Vicki's house. Even then, I don't remember it being one of our favorite activities. Playing house with her little sister as the baby, or school with her little sister as our pupil, or vet with her little sister as.... poor Melanie.

Since then Barbie has catapulted herself into toy mega-stardom. She's a doll, she's a clothing line, she's got the house and the car and the pet shop and the doctor's office. Bottom line: she's become the metaphor for the physically-ideal woman. (Which means most of us are pretty much screwed, but that's another topic.) After early promises to ban her from the lives our girls, I heeded the advice of a wise friend (Hi Coleen!), and chose with Jim to filter the Barbie influence instead. We buy our girls Barbies, but they are the ballerinas and princesses and professionals, not the "hooker Barbies," as I like to call them. You know the ones I mean. Their clothes could have come from Julia Roberts' pre-Richard Gere Pretty Woman wardrobe. And our girls love the Barbies they have. I must face it: to them, its just a beloved toy, not a political statement. So in this way, we have loosened up some. We probably have 8-10 Barbies floating around the house these days.

Then this week a friend told me of her frustration in looking for a summertime Barbie for gift, but only finding tiny bikinis. Not surprising really. A couple of days later I was in Wal-Mart checking out Barbies for Brynn's upcoming birthday when I spotted this. Meet Pajama Party Barbie. What do you think? My question is, pajamas? or lingerie? I know she's got the cute bubble gum pink color and the fun accessories, but isn't this a teddy? I don't know about you, but none of the girls at the slumber parties I went to were wearing anything like this. Am I losing it? It looks like some twisted kids version of a Victoria's Secret ad. Am I over-reacting? Because people must be buying these for their kids if the Barbie folks keep cranking this stuff out, right? I have to wonder if the downward spiral of Barbie's wardrobe over the years is what paved the way for something like the Bratz dolls to be marketable at all. (Do not EVEN get me started Bratz.)

I guess it boils down to me being really frustrated with how quickly the world wants my babies to grow up! I am convinced that our society's desensitization to the sexing-up of our little girls is partly to blame for how little these children value themselves as they grow up. It scares me sometimes, but then it motivates me to get off my butt, put my game face on and really parent my girls. It's the hardest thing in the world, but its so worth the battle, right?

I welcome your thoughts about this... even if you think I'm a crazed Barbie-hater.