Much has been said about Ms. Barbie.
First she was revered, coveted, held up as the ultimate gift for girls. Then a bunch of people realized Barbie wasn’t helping stop women from trying to be the size of toothpicks and called for an end to ol’ Babs. Some people call this “feminism.” I call it “recognizing girls are starving themselves to look like a plastic toy.”
Now we’re stuck in this middle place where it’s awkward if you let your kids have them but sad if you don’t. Bottom line, we’ve changed our relationship status with Barbie to “it’s complicated.”
My sister and I played with our Barbies up into junior high. Hours were spent constructing the perfect houses using chairs and pillows and empty tissue boxes for hot tubs. We took them outside under the trees and in the car to play between the seats on long road trips. They were a major part of our childhood play.
I do not feel damaged by Barbie’s figure, despite struggling with eating disorders for much of my late teens and twenties. Mostly I feel nostalgic and excited about digging them out of the attic with their frizzy hair and 90s pantsuits. Perhaps it’s naive, but I tend to think body issues have more to do with parenting and peer influence than childhood memorabilia.
The whole thing is confusing, although when I picture my daughter wanting to play with my old Barbies, I shrug my shoulders. What’s the harm if I’m open about bodies and what real women look like? Can’t I just say, “Look at this silly doll! No one looks like this. But they are fun to play with!”
I picture myself a lot more chirpy than I actually am.
What about you? How do you feel about Barbies?