To Barbie, or not to Barbie. That is the question.
I have read other mommy columnists who wax nostalgic about their playtime with Barbie, passing on the tradition with their little girls and having a ball. The little shoes, the Corvette, the Dream House! It’s all very alluring, very…pink. What’s not to like? I mean, I had a Brooke Shields Barbie doll when I was young and she was loads of fun!
But then one day, my oldest son (a big second grader at the time) came up to me with a half-naked Barbie doll in his hands and said to me sternly, “Mom, I don’t think this is an appropriate toy.” He had just had a very fatherly talk with my husband about what is “appropriate” and what is “a poison worse than the black plague of death itself and should be avoided at all costs, lest it rot your mind like an unstoppable rebel force.”
He was right. Half-naked buxom blonds littering the toy chest are not appropriate for my boys. It’s just a fact of life that Barbie dolls spend 70% of their time either half clad or not clad at all. Oh, it’s all very innocent, of course. Those tiny clothes are really hard for little fingers to put on. Heck, it takes me the better part of ten minutes to get Barbie ready for her hot date with Ken. How can I expect uncoordinated, chubby hands to wrestle on those microscopic rags and keep her plunging neckline and bare midriff velcroed up all the time?
I know for families of pure girls, Barbies are a lifeline. An institution even. But that is not my family. My daughters are surrounded by brothers. Hot-blooded, American boys who should not be put into tough, compromising spots every time they’re rooting around the playroom on a quest to find that one Lego piece to complete their set.
So in a bold, brazen move, I banned Barbie dolls from our house. (We kept the Barbie movies though. I’m not embarrassed to tell you my daughter and I know all the words to “I Need to Know” from “Barbie Island Princess.” The harmony too.)
I searched online and found alternative 9 inch dolls that we love, namely “Only Hearts Club” dolls. These dolls are girls, not “women” and feature a much more modest wardrobe for my girls to emulate. They’re not old enough to drive (no Corvette), or date (no Ken) but then, neither are my girls! Instead they ride horses, take good care of their pets and look forward to the day when they’re finally old enough to babysit. Just right.
Our playroom may still be a mess, and there are Lego pieces we’ve resigned we’ll never find, but I believe making conscientious choices about playtime does help to make our home our very own “dream house.”
Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, free-lance writer and mother of five small children. Read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com