Oh, To Barbie or Not To Barbie — how I wish that question will never come in my house. But, since I have a daughter, it’s bound to come up. Maybe she will desperately want one. Maybe she will have no interest, but feel that it is being shoved down her throat by a world that says “All girls love Barbie!” Sigh.
I’m not going to lie and say I never liked Barbies. In fact, I loved my Barbies. I had different collections at each parent’s house (my folks are divorced). And my seamstress grandmother would sometimes make clothes or other things for my dolls. But perhaps the early seeds of feminism were emerging even then. You see, all my Barbies were career women! In fact, I remember one time my best friend and I created this elaborate Barbie world in my room. Our Barbies were in an all-girl band (hey, it was the 80s) managed by a music firm run by — you guessed it — all women! My one Ken doll was really the patsy of my dolls. He was usually a villain or competition (who lost). In my Barbie world family and men were not very important. Sisterhood and professional success was the goal!
On the other hand, I never liked baby dolls. But people would give them to me all the time — because that’s what girls like. I even remember that at times I would give it a shot. Like, “Oh fine, I’ll play with the baby doll for 20 minutes.” I would get as far as changing its pretend diaper and putting on an outfit and then give up. I mean, what more was there? Unless it was a super baby it really didn’t offer me much else to do with it. Boring! Eventually, I would end up chasing the cat to put baby clothes on it. The cat was not amused.
Now that I am a mom to a little girl, I am filled with all new worries about indoctrinating her into a superficial idea of what it means to be a girl. I want her to explore the world with creativity, curiosity and imagination! I never want her to feel hemmed in by the idea of what is deemed “for girls” or not. (Luckily, we can thank Katie Goldman and her Star Wars water bottle for an inspirational story on that.) And I certainly don’t want her self-esteem to be harmed by the toys she plays with, as a study suggests Barbies can do.
So you can imagine how happy I am to learn about the new Go! Go! Sports Girl! line! The dolls, which promote girls who like healthy, fun activities and sports, were developed by a mom who was frustrated by a world of sexist, demeaning toys. These girls play activities like soccer, golf, swimming and gymnastics. One wears glasses. And they all have healthy body types. (I particularly like the Kate doll who plays basketball. But I’m biased.)
There may be hope, yet!