Recently, a woman wrote in The Guardian that she wouldn’t be buying her four-year-old daughter a Barbie for Christmas, because she’s too pink, too girly and too sexualised.
As someone who owns 26 Barbies, three younger sisters, two Ken dolls and a borrowed Action Man, I’d like to weigh in on this subject.
I actually stopped playing with them when I was 12, and they are gathering dust in my parents’ loft. I don’t have the heart to throw them out though because I have so many fond memories of them.
I simply played make believe. One day Barbie was a pilot and the next she worked in a bakery. She was forced into a purple Volkswagen Beetle and driven around town. I picked out outfits for her, and yet I never dreamt of being her.
My mother described me as being something of a tomboy. Whilst I liked butterfly clips in my hair, I was more comfortable in a t-shirt and dungarees than anything frilly. So can I say that I was affected by her impossibly small waist and short skirts? Not really. I’ve never even liked pink!
Playing with dolls is about more than just wanting to look like one, for me it was about imagination. They were just the output for my own creativity and my own ideas. I knew that she wasn’t real, except when I chose to make her real in my stories.
Barbie hasn’t given me a warped idea of womanhood, and please don’t blame one doll for the body issues that many women have. All dolls have exaggerated qualities of some sort, they’re another form of art.
So mothers, please don’t think that because your daughter wants a skinny blonde doll, it means that she wants to be one, she probably just wants to play.