My 3 year old granddaughter has fallen in love with her first Barbie doll; given to her by someone else of course. She has a beautful pink dress and is called Princess Dayna.
Until now, the Barbie has been known to us as she-who-shall-not-be-mentioned; the toy equivalent of Lord Voldemart. She who is the cause of body image problems in young girls and the one who stimulates anorexia and bulimia. The doll with breasts and a BMI of 13. If she was a real woman she would probaby be dead by now.
We tried.; we swore that no Barbie doll would cross our threshold. We bought ragdolls with real size bodies and we bought boy dolls and pirate ships. To no avail. Delilah wanted a fairy doll with wings and asked Santa for one at Christmas. I found a long legged Fairy Barbie in our local department store and refused to buy her, so Santa honoured her request with a curvacious Princess Belle. We hid the Barbie, but our grandchild hunted for her day after day. We gave in.
So I got to thinking; what is the appeal of this Barbie thing that eating disorder professionals despise. Is she really responsible for all the bad press she is getting in the eating disorder world?
Perhaps but perhaps not. She is certainly easy to carry around and it's very easy to move her different parts. That's part of her hand-appeal.
I think that we have given the Barbie too much influence. We have been looking for something to blame for the self worth issues faced by our daughters and for the growing appeal of breast enhancements and liposuction. Perhaps first we need to look at ourselves, the TV programmes we allow our kids to watch and the examples we set them with our fat comments, silly diets and excessive exercise habits.
So perhaps in the right home environment Barbie and Ken could be benign. Just a nice little dressing up toy for girls and boys. Or am I wrong?