Monday, May 07, 2007

The Barbie Dilemna

Mane is 5, and she LOVES barbie. I have so far not allowed barbie to live in my house, but I'm starting to think about the pros and cons. The typical cons I hear about barbie are as follows:

* Barbie is ridiculously proportioned and may lead some little girls to develop bad body images.
* Likewise, supporting the industry that makes Barbie allows the industry to continue to make ridiculously proportioned barbies.
* There are tons of barbies in the world and their continued production leads to more plastic trash in the landfills.
* Barbie is materialistic - focused on clothes & accessories.

Ok, so Mane has neighbor friends who have what seems like millions of barbies. They've gotten them mostly from thrift stores, though a few were gifts. For me, this solves the plastic production/landfill issue. I know I can get used barbies at almost any thrift store, along with whatever accessories I might be inclined to purchase without contributing to the further production of said plastic toys.

And, I guess the materialism is something I see with most toys. American Girl is the same way. You can go as far as you want with buying accessories. And Calico Critters. And Groovy Girls. And Only Hearts dolls. They all have tons of clothes & accessories available if you are going to buy into the materialism. Barbie isn't alone in that respect. It's similar to what I was saying in my post about freedom. Buying alternative toys doesn't necessarily free you from materialism.

I grew up playing with barbies, and, although I have also dealt with my share of body image issues, I have never thought of them as related to barbies. How I felt about my body had a lot more to do with my experiences with real live people growing up.

And I really did love playing barbie. My play with them was very involved. There were epic sagas. They had names and personalities. My mom and my aunt had made clothes for them, and my mom made furniture out of wood blocks & carpet scraps. My dad built them a closet.

I guess I don't like them in my house because I don't find them aesthetically least not any more. How's that for a snobbish response? I don't have a problem with Mane playing with them at other people's houses, as long as I don't have to have them strewn about my house with their clothes and shoes and handbags. But...I *would* love those cute little calico critters, even if they were strewn about my house. So, I think the issue really is aesthetics. But, aesthetics for me and aesthetics for Mane are two very different things.

So, I guess I'm torn. I loved playing barbies. Mane wants to have barbies. But, I think they're ugly. They're plastic and weirdly shaped, and they don't move well. Soooo, could somebody please make a cute alternative for barbie? Only Hearts dolls won't do because she wants to play with grown-ups. That's a major lure of barbie, I think. She likes Kelly dolls (Barbie's little sister, who is allowed to live in my house because she isn't ridiculously proportioned and ugly), too, but she always has to choose one to be the mom and one to be the dad because she wants to play "family" stories.

*sigh* *shrug* Thanks for letting me vent. Any thoughts?


  1. Down with Barbie (and all her little plastic friends).
    All children want name brand toys because that is what their friends have. Don't support that sort of jealous conformity and the corperations behind it. She'll be greatful in a few years.

  2. I give that a hearty amen.


It's always good to hear from you!