I’m A Feminist And I Plan On Buying My Daughter A Ton Of Barbies
I love Barbie. I’m not going to lie.
I’m also a proud feminist, and somewhere along the way it became not okay for proud feminists to love Barbie. I’ve become lost in the arguments for why that is — I think it has something to do with her body types and assigned ‘jobs.’ I stopped caring, because when we analyze a doll this much, we really give small children zero credit — and place an unrealistic amount of emphasis on a variable that really doesn’t influence kids all that much. What I mean is — I’m pretty sure kids are clear that Barbie isn’t real. I’m also pretty sure that what you say to your children has a larger affect on them than what you buy them.
When I was a little girl, I had a huge collection of Barbie dolls. My Barbies were bad-ass. My favorite one came dressed in Jordache jeans with a fuzzy, pink short-sleeved sweater. She owned a hair salon and didn’t take any shit from Ken. She drove a purple Camaro and got into it Dukes-Of-Hazzard style — her perfectly-dressed body jumped right over that door and sped into the sunset (my closet). She always drove when her and Ken went on a date to my living room television, a.k.a the drive-in. She was a strong woman. She really was.
Maybe my little girl won’t like Barbie. Maybe she’ll be like my step daughter and pour all of her imagination into My Little Pony or Spongebob. Whatever she chooses to animate with her imagination is okay by me. For my four-year-old boy it’s currently a bunch of superhero figurines and an Elsa book. Elsa and Batman have transcended the barriers between them — that one is a book and one is an actual doll — and have become friends, anyway. Wonder Woman hangs out with Sully from Monster’s Inc. and they go on walks around our house together. They all have personalities that my child has assigned them and I love watching him sit in his room, entertained by these beings he has brought to life.
I’m not knocking the need to have different options for body size and such – which is why I’m a lover of more realistic-looking Barbies, too. I just think that over-analyzing Barbie’s role on our collective psyche is a gross waste of time. I’m saying this as a woman who suffered from eating disorders in my young life. I assure you it wasn’t because of Barbie.
I love dolls and role-play and the concept of little girls and boys losing themselves in imagination. I don’t love the idea of putting so much emphasis into a classic doll’s measurements that we forget what her purpose was to begin with and forget why we all love her so much. Dolls are a vessel in which children’s imaginations live. Barbie was that vessel for me and I hope she will be that vessel for my daughter because I am dying to buy some again.