Friday, 4 August 2017
Why I Won't Ever Buy A Barbie Doll For My Daughter
Hi there! I have been meaning to write this since quite some time now. It is quite a controversial topic. Just recently, when I was gift searching for my cute little neighbour's birthday gift and visited Hamleys, I was sure enough, as I walked down the toy aisle, I didn't want to buy her a doll; but what made my resolution stronger was the collection of Barbie dolls I saw.
There were various doll sets, many with kitchen sets, utensils, and what not. Because why not, 'it's a girls thing', isn't it? I was quite surprised to even notice Barbie's dressed as brides, and also Barbie couple sets, (I couldn't resist clicking :/) because it annoyed me, naturally the makers try to tell you girls, how important getting married is, and to find that suitable man for you.
While you want your child to have diverse toys and a rich imaginative play session, I fail to find reasons to brainwash your daughter right from a tender age to know that household chores are only her responsibility, that a marriage is only when you deck up and put on a red lehenga and adorn dozens of gold on yourself, that while playing "ghar-ghar", kitchen is always her arena and the boy always goes to office.
Barbie has possibly been the most famous doll in the world after her debut in 1959. She has represented fifty nationalities (she is a racist too : see below!) and has held over one hundred careers. Girls from age’s three to ten own at least one Barbie doll if not more. When people think of Barbie they think of a tall skinny supermodel woman with a perfect waist, perfect hair, perfect clothes, and a perfect life.
But are Barbie dolls a good influence on our girls? I don't think they are. Many might disagree!
A role model shouldn’t be someone we imitate; instead they should be someone who opens up possibilities and choices of who we can be; someone whose qualities and characteristics should serve as the underpinning of our future selves.
But Barbie's come adorned with chunky high heels and hot-pink purse that according to them defines beauty and smartness. Barbie's are unrealistic perfection.
I don’t hate the princesses as people—they’re all really kind girls. But Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White are the same person in different bodies. They have no personality whatsoever, just superficial standards. Barbie life becomes #LifeGoals to young girls. Nothing in life, is ever so perfect. We need to teach our girls that.
We have definitely been a part of their journey that promised happy endings where the unfortunate princess-in-distress is rescued by a very handsome prince. We need to un-teach the unfeasible, sugar coated ideal of womanhood and instead, teach your daughters to save themselves from anything that affects their wellbeing, and put up a brave fight, despite a prince being there for her or not.
Some skeptics may argue that Barbie is just a toy and has nothing to do with reality. However, every child is influenced by the toys they play with. That’s why society is constantly giving children toys that are designed to prepare them for their adult life. Toys such as doctor’s kits, plastic kitchens, shopping carts, and baby dolls are all components to steering a child into typical and stereotypcial adult lives, sometimes, fairy tales and happy endings.
The only reason that any of the princesses get a happy ending is because they’re gorgeous. I have seen, heard, and read more Cinderella renditions than I can possibly count, and every Cinderella character seems to have one trait in common: She’s pretty. Cinderellas can also be active or passive, bold or shy, rebellious or submissive, outspoken and strong, or worn out and broken down. None of these qualities really matter because the only attribute she actually needs to get the prince is beauty. Imagine if the princesses were of average attractiveness. Cinderella is never noticed by her prince, Snow White’s prince never has the absurd urge to kiss a dead girl, and Sleeping Beauty isn't followed by Phillip in the woods. Aladdin would never become smitten with Jasmine, and so on. We’re telling little girls that physical beauty is their most important trait.
Princess stories repeatedly advertise love at first sight. Princesses marry a prince after only interacting with him once! Plus, these movies make marriage look like the end of the story (really, it’s just the beginning: you have the whole rest of your life ahead of you!).
I would instead teach my daughter to idolize someone who is independent, to look up to men who don't just find you 'hot' like you are a temperature and see only your outer beauty, but chase you for what you are from within and see you as a whole being.
There are real life princesses who are bold, individualistic, independent and contribute tremendously to social and economic development in their countries and internationally. Time for a paradigm shift – next time you want to gift a Barbie to a five year old you might want to reconsider. Perhaps a set of boxing gloves or an enrolment in Karate classes would be a better idea. :)