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    Barbie-Buyer’s Remorse

    “I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.”
    Alfred Hitchcock


    I lost myself for about half-an-hour one Saturday afternoon.  I’m not sure where I went, but another mom, who buys impractical ‘high-heeled’ shoes and Barbies for her daughter inhabited my body.  Pip had seen an advertisement for Barbie on television, and had decided to spend some of her piggy-bank money on a doll.  She’d also been asking for high-heeled shoes like Dorothy’s for weeks.  After explaining that you can’t run in high-heels, that they’re very uncomfortable and not good for your body, I finally said that they just don’t make high-heeled shoes for little girls.  I thought I was telling the truth.

    Wouldn’t you know it, as we strolled down the toy aisle at ‘Extra Foods’, Pip spotted a collection of high-heeled ‘dress-up’ shoes for young girls.  They were three dollars a pair.  “Do I have enough money to get these Mama?”  How does one resist the BEAMING face of a three year old?

    “Yes, you have enough money, Sweetie.”  It was my voice, but clearly I wasn’t in my right mind.  I haven’t bought a pair of heels for myself in ten years, (and it’s not just because they would elevate me to taller heights than my husband!)  Pip tucked the shoes under her arm and perused a massive shelf of dolls.  I was surprisingly happy to see Pip linger in front of the Cinderella doll next to Barbie.  It’s not that I agree with the whole: ‘you need a prince to live happily-ever-after’ concept, but at least Cinderella had sensible shoes, (oh, except for the glass part,) and she wore a long gown, whereas Barbie was wearing a hot-pink, glittery mini-dress and stilletos!   Pip chose the Cinderella doll.

    I could tell when my husband saw Pip’s purchases, that he thought I had lost my mind.  “Wow, look at these,” he said as he picked up the shoes.  His eyebrows were raised as he looked at me, and the best I could come up with was,

    “She bought them with her own money.”  Big Daddy-O gave me a look.  You know the kind.

    The next morning, while I was enjoying a glorious sleep-in, Pip somehow convinced her father to let her exchange The Lady for The Tramp.  Before I could weigh-in, Cinderella had left the building, and Pip was the proud new owner of the hot-pink Barbie.

    When I asked her why she had taken Cinderella back to the store, she said that she thought the prince would choose Barbie instead of Cinderella.  CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT???  I buckled under pressure and responded with something like, “Oh, Pip, I’m sure that the prince would’ve been able to see that Cinderella had a good heart.”  Pip wasn’t listening though, she was happily occupied with Barbie’s stilletos.

    Now, I realize that I can’t shelter my daughters from all of the negative female images that society foists upon us, but must I welcome them into my home?  It feels wrong.  I don’t like the fact that my daughter now asks me if I have purple lipstick like Barbie.  I think it’s unfortunate that she knows about lipstick at all!

    So now I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma.  Do I come clean with my three-year old daughter, explain my rationale behind the Barbie-boycott, then take the doll out of her wee hands?  No.  That would be torturous for both of us.  I’m resorting to something much more deceitful: the mysterious disappearance of Barbie.

    At the moment she’s in a basket atop Pip’s wardrobe, where she cannot be reached.  It has been five days since Pip last played with Barbie, or asked about her, and I’m ready to remove her from the premises altogether.  All I need is an opportunity and an alibi.  If Pip asks about The Tramp, my plan is to lie and tell her I have no knowledge of her whereabouts.

    As for the shoes, well, I’ll be employing the same strategy, mind you, Pip has never had them on longer than two minutes at a time and she has fallen twice while wearing them, so I don’t think they’ll be missed.

    Whenever I feel guilty about the prospect of lying to Pip, I just think about her bed companion.  Pip sleeps with an adorable little stuffed pig named Wilbur.  Now, that’s more like it.

    10 comments to Barbie-Buyer’s Remorse

    • Sue

      Karen, Barbie is just a doll and the shoes are just dress up. These items will have nothing to do with how your daughter turns out in the end. You and Big-Daddy-O are amazing parents and will be the biggest influence on your children. Don’t get drawn into the “my daughter would never play with barbies train of thought”. I played with Barbies and I like to think I turned out OK. I also used to have great fun wearing my moms shoes around the house for dress up, didn’t you?
      I wear high heels almost everyday and I don’t think I am any less of a person for it. I know I have taken your concerns a little on the literal side, but I would not be to concerned over these material items. They are not what makes the woman in the long run!

    • Allison

      I read a great article about how little girls never actually aspire to be Barbie; rather they control her. They cut her hair and dress her funny and draw on her face. Kind of a tribal ritual and definitely social capital – pretty much all your daughter’s friends will have Barbies. We all laugh about them as grown-ups. I had Barbies and I don’t look a thing like her now!

    • Karen

      I wondered if I would hit a nerve with this post! Thank you for the reactions ladies.

      I do appreciate the fact that these are ‘toys’ and that there are many other factors that will have a greater influence on the young women Fig and Pip will become, but I still feel good about my decision. Toys are a huge part of children’s learning, and if I had boys interested in playing with toy guns and other weapons, I wouldn’t welcome them into our house either. It’s true that all of their friends might have them, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good idea.

      I was a huge Barbie fan as a young girl, and, I’m not saying that Barbie was completely responsible for this, but I think that I placed far too much importance on my looks for several years. I had the stereotypical notion of the ideal figure; long legs, tiny waist, perky breasts etc. and I admired movie stars instead of admiring athletes and writers and artists. I’m just hoping to steer my daughters in a different direction.

      My article was a little tongue-in-cheek, and I’m not sure that I’ll always forbid my daughters from playing with Barbie, but they are so terribly young and impressionable. Why not surround them with positive impressions?

      (To clarify: I do believe that many actors are great artists worthy of admiration, but not solely for their looks. )

    • Aurora

      Just loved the Lady and the Tramp reference Karen! I giggled all the way through the post. I wouldn’t be buying barbies, toy guns, make-up or high heels for children as gifts but if they go through a stage of wanting to play with them, better not to draw too much attention to it. The stages pass…..

    • Karen

      I’m glad you giggled Aurora; I liked the Lady and the Tramp too!

    • Marnie

      Good points ladies, now I’ll make a few of my own…and someone else’s! Firstly, just so you know where I am coming from, we have talked about Barbie with my 5 1/2 year old daughter. She has heard her father and I say that we are not particularly fond of Barbie and she knows the reasons: Barbie is all about her outside beauty, she doesn’t really “do” anything, (she can’t even stand on her own two feet!) and she is always smiling (who understands better than a emotional toddler that noooobody is always happy). My daughter also knows the value of a sensible shoe:) If my daughter does desperately want a Barbie one day, I would like to think she has made an informed decision! At three, she would not have been able to look critically at Barbie. Now…Before Barbie young children are playing with “baby” dolls. If you haven’t seen children’s dolls these days, let me tell you how realistic most of them are: They wear diapers (some of them even wet them), they gurgle, they are appropriately dressed, they are chubby, they cry etc. Then comes your daughter’s first doll that portrays an adult… meet Barbie. “Not only do these dolls have fictionally proportioned small body sizes, but they lean towards escalating the belief that materialistic possessions, beauty and thinness equate happiness. Barbie has more accessories available to purchase than can be believed, including Ken, her attractive boyfriend. Barbie Dentist (nice to know she has risen above the 1992 Barbie, who said “Math is tricky” ) wears a mini-skirt and has enough hair that would choke her patients. I do believe it helps to perpetuate an ideal of materialism, beauty, and being thin as important elements to happiness in one’s life. At an age where children are very impressionable and seek to be like the role models around them, it’s important to emphasize that they are pretend.” Do I personally think Barbie=eating disorders, poor body image later in life for the young adults that used to play with them? No. However, If there were no Barbie, no boobjobs, no Brittany, no botox … hmmm

    • Karen

      Thanks for your thoughts Marn. Ha! Barbie can’t stand on her own two feet! That’s so true! I thought your point about most baby dolls being very realistic was interesting. I hadn’t considered the fact that ‘Barbie’ is the first ‘adult’ doll that kids play with. This is obviously a topic that people are very opinionated about….I love it!

    • Leanne

      Children are so exposed to so much junk without our control as it is- ie.magazines in stores, playmates choice of toys, etc. that I say why not shield them from that which we can control? at least until they are of an age to understand rationally about how and why exposure to certain things(and the values accorded to those ‘things’) may not be in their best interest.
      just curious though- how it is that Cinderella became so much more agreeable over Barbie? to me she is portrayed as helpless and victimized -with her situation only being resolved by the arrival of a fairy and a prince. hmmm…the ‘need to be rescued’ syndrome doesn’t bode well for me anyways imho!~peace~

    • Karen

      I completely agree with you Leanne. Cinderella’s story doesn’t bode well with me either, (I actually wrote about her specifically on my first blog) but given the choice between the two evils, the Cinderella doll was at least clothed more respectfully than Barbie. As I said at the beginning of my entry, I definitely lost myself for awhile. Great to hear your ideas. Thanks for writing. (Please Tell me what imho means.)

    • Leanne

      hi karen,

      imho …..means “in my humble opinion” cheers!

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