Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Barbie Dolls

What is the deal with Barbie dolls today? My daughter has a few, but she has little interest in playing with them. When I was a kid, some 30 years ago cough, cough, Barbie was a big part of girlhood in my neighborhood. With my mother being a feminist of sorts, my two sisters and I were not allowed to have baby dolls or to play house. But we were allowed stuffed animals and Barbies. Mother was all about consistency wink, wink.

My girlfriends and sisters and I would play for hours with them. We made stuff out of shoe boxes if we didn't have the right Barbie furniture. We lost lots of little shoes. We ran over Ken in the Barbie Corvette because, well, we didn't see much point in having Ken around. We made a school, fashion show, pool and house- all sized for Barbie. We took the dolls to the beach, to the pool, on car trips, to grandma's house. We even had some of my aunt's Barbie stuff from when she was a kid. We traded Barbie stuff. We got each other Barbie birthday gifts. We tried to blow dry her hair and paint her nails. Never turned out well. We popped off Barbie's head and switched her body. We got a Cher doll and were disappointed we couldn't swap her clothes with Barbie- wrong size.

At the time, I didn't think much about the impossible body proportions she had. I just wished her shoes stayed on better. Finally at the age of 12, I decided I had outgrown Barbie and I sold all my Barbie stuff at our family garage sale.

Do girls still play with Barbies? Did Mattell ruin it by making specialized Barbies and cheap accessories to zap out any imaginative play? Read this interesting article. I did notice a change when I ran across Dentist Barbie. I don't see much Barbie action around my daughter's circle of friends. This may be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.
Barbie's website is awfully sparkly, but she does say "I love to play sports. It's a great way to get fit and have fun."
So in conclusion, I think the smart girl can have fun with Barbie and keep a healthy body image for themselves. It will be interesting to see where Barbie goes these next few years.


Susan said...

My daughter (now 10) has never been into Barbie, because she's too fancy and too pink and glittery and because her darn clothes are too hard to get on. (One of the funniest things I ever saw was my husband trying to put shoes on a Barbie that had perma-shoes on her feet!)

She did play with the little Kelly dolls for a while. But she's always preferred Groovy Girls. Their clothes are easy to get on, they have no boobs, and she can use her imagination with them.

My favorite part of playing with Barbie was making things for her, since there weren't a zillion accessories way back then. One of my friends had a Ken doll, but we didn't have much use for him either.

Phain said...

I was a total Barbie fanatic! I had the pink corvette, the townhouse (with elevator - very important!) and the three piece a-frame dream house. I was into the specialty dolls they had back then too - in the 70's - can you guess which famous couple? That's right...

Donnie and Marie.

(oh yes i did)

Purple satin and sparkle jumpsuits too. Matching.