While on a walk at Kure Beach my teenaged daughters happened upon a lost toy. It was a naked Barbie doll with a colored streak in her hair and way too much makeup. Barbies have always been an interesting topic in our household so of course this discovery brought up more than one tangent of conversation.
“It’s a LOST TOYYYYYY!” I dramatically shouted harkening a quote from a Toy Story movie. We had a chuckle and then the youngest went into problem solving mode suggesting we take it to a lost and found. Always the comedian, I quipped, “I’m pretty sure there is no Barbie Lost and Found”. That did not get even a snicker out of them. Damn it, they are growing up. I reminded them of the COVID pandemic and perhaps we should just refrain from touching her at all. After rolling her eyes impressively far back into her skull the 15 year old reminded us that Barbie is PLASTIC and hence must be removed from the beach so she does not contaminate and possibly kill. I could hear Greta Thunberg clapping all the way from Sweden. So with a gloved hand, they rescued Walk of Shame Barbie and propped her up on the top of the private boardwalk near our rented condo.
They stared at her for a bit. She was a Barbie WITHOUT bendable legs so she looked rather. . . inappropriate? This disturbed the eldest child and she suggested perhaps we should get some sand and cover her up. I reminded her that she is not even anatomically correct which brought up a whole different conversation about Barbies.
“Mom, why do you hate Barbie so much?” the youngest asked. The older one remembered me talking to her about how sometimes adolescent girls try to attain an impossible standard of beauty and body image and Barbie perpetuates that. Of course when she was younger she had plenty of anatomically correct baby dolls, body puzzles or stuffed animals that were gender neutral so she finally realized I did not hate Barbie as much as I was trying to teach her something. After a brief reminder she added, “Oh, I just thought you didn’t like her because she had big boobies.” Leave it up to my 11 year old to be blunt and matter of fact. LOL
Not everyone is negatively impacted by Barbie and I’m not saying the doll itself is evil. I know someone who absolutely loves her (and she happens to be even prettier than Barbie) and she is a terrific woman. I simply decided that my girls could play with dolls that looked like cartoon characters or real humans and just skip the Barbies just in cast they might impact their psyches. I was a very careful Mama.
Remember the “Math Class is Tough” Barbie? Shudder! How about the fact that Mattel “attempted” racial balance just by changing the color of Barbie’s skin? So cringeworthy. I just can’t even. . .so for me it was an easy choice to avoid Barbie. When friends would ask for birthday gift ideas I would say “Anything but Barbie please!” Someone still managed to sneak one in and my girls were old enough to have a decent discussion about it. After playing with. . . Chef Barbie? Cooking Barbie? I just remember she had a toque and an baker’s apron – oooh maybe she was Baker Barbie. Anyway, they became frustrated with how hard it was to take her clothes on and off and abandoned her. I worried for nothing, apparently. LOL
When they were older I allowed Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Merida and other Disney Barbie dolls that were more fantasy cartoon dolls and they enjoyed recreating storylines with them. (Disney is a whole ‘nother blog for a later date) I am proud to say both girls seem fine with their bodies, eat balanced meals and walk every day. Each visit to the pediatrician gets a thumbs up from the doctor saying they are healthy. I am satisfied that they are as healthy as they CAN be. Whew.
Legend says that Naked Barbie still roams the boardwalk at night and they can hear her eerie cry in the darkness. . .”Like, hello? Has anyone seen my panties?”