Well, my mom was right about another thing: Barbie is bad.
I had a pretty mainstream American childhood, except for one thing: My mom banned Barbie. It wasn't a body image thing. It was because she thought Barbie (The brand? The actual character?) was materialistic. The goal of Barbie play was to amass material wealth: convertible, Dream House, and of course, a killer wardrobe. So, I owned no Barbies. I just went to Kelly Hines' house next door and played with hers. Mostly, we fought over whose doll got to wear the fur coat.
I had none of my mother's resolve on this issue. So Barbie first entered my daughter's life on her fifth birthday, when her best friend bought her a classic blond version wearing p.j.s, along with a canopy bed, a flat screen TV and a laptop.
By Christmas nine months later, the girls had been given at least half a dozen long-legged dolls, plus a Barbie Golden Retriever and three puppies; an above ground swimming pool; a Veterinarian Barbie and with baby animals and medical equipment; a celebrity chef Barbie with a tv-ready kitchen complete with microphone and tv camera; a pediatrician Baribe (who I refer to as the slutty nurse when the kids aren't around. The platforms on that girl! Seriously?); a jeep; two pink scooters; an RV (bought second hand); and more miniature clothes, shoes and handbags than I will own in my lifetime.
Sophia, age 7, has sort of outgrown Barbie (not that she will let Livie play with any of hers) but for Livie the obsession is very much a thing of the present. In May, we bought her a Ken doll in a tuxedo that looks just like Justin Beiber (Livie calls him Justin Beaver). She needed a Ken, she said, because she had lots of Barbies and they all wanted to get married. The reason we gave in is too long to go into.
Here's the problem, okay, problems, with Barbie. First, I do have a body image issue with her. I'm tired of looking at her naked voluptuous bottom and huge bosom lying around on my three year old's floor. It seems kind of obscene or at the very least, inappropriate.
Second, Barbie and her boy-toys are impossible for a child under the age of 7 to dress by herself. So guess who gets to squeeze her into impossibly tight leotards, gowns, bathing suits, stilettos and cowboy boots all day?
And finally, my mom was totally right. Barbie is one materialistic chick. She has way too much stuff: from personal electronics to professional grade cooking equipment. And her stuff is tiny. Like, so tiny that picking it up is like trying to pick sand grains out of shag carpeting. My husband -- half-amused -- has listened to my rants about how impossible it is to keep Barbie organized. I wish they had made all her accessories out of metal so I could just go in there with a giant magnet on a chain like they do at the dump and sift everything out from under my daughters other toys on the floor. I'm sure there's some safety reason why they haven't done that, or I'd make a million dollars on that idea.
Why, after weeks of silence on the blog am I finally coming back to the keyboard to rant about the toy buxom blond? Well, because Hubby, knowing all my feelings about her, came back from a garage sale recently with an 18-gallon tote of Barbie clothes and accessories. Apparently, he was originally going to let the girls pick out a dollar's worth of clothes each from the big bin, but then the lady doing the selling said, "Oh just take it all."
That lady got the upper hand on me, friends. She's basking in a clean Barbie-free house now, and I spent three hours going through that tote, at the bottom of which were 12 more Barbies and two Kens, a grand piano, a living room set, another whole kitchen, and Barbie SCUBA gear. They joy on my daughter's face as we discovered all this treasure I cannot even communicate.
I thought it would be greedy to keep all this, and told the girls so. So they lovingly dressed and accessorized eight dolls to give away to our church, which has a resource center of clothes, toys and household goods for the working poor in our community. I wish I could say my motives were pure. I feel more like I have pawned Barbie off on some other mother than that I have helped bring joy to a child's life. I await the day when Livie has outgrown them, and maybe then Barbie will just have to go live in the landfill. A whole other reason Barbie is bad.