I wrote this paper for the people who think that dolls are sexist or teach girls to be a cookie cutter in society.
I never once looked at my dolls and thought, “I should be just like this when I grow up”. You have dolls so you can play house or dress up or play school. When I played with my stuffed animals I would pretend to be an animal, like a lion most of the time. I would roar, crawl around, growl, and act as if I was a lion. When I played with baby dolls, I would pretend to be a mom. I would pretend to breast feed, change diapers, and comfort my dolls. I never once thought, “I have to be a mom because I am a female and this is what my life purpose is supposed to be.” I played with my dolls and stuffed animals as if they were real because I was creative, it was fun, I liked mocking the actions of real people I saw who had small children, etc.
Dolls are props that you can dress and talk to or pretend with, but that doesn’t mean the little girl thinks she has to BE the doll or be a certain way just because the doll looks a certain way or is portrayed a certain way. I certainly knew that I would never BE a lion, it was all in fun, obviously. I had million Barbies, I never once felt like i had to BE her or even be just like her. I thought of each of my dolls as a unique personality and i was taught that i would one day grow into my own person. They were not all blonde haired, big chested Barbies either, I had short Barbies, tall Barbies, flexible Barbies, stiff Barbies, freckled Barbies, curly haired Barbies, short haired Barbies, long haired Barbies, Hispanic Barbies, Asian Barbies, Native American Barbies, Arabian Barbies, redhead Barbies, tan Barbies, Pale Barbies, toddler aged Barbies, teenage Barbies, pre-teen aged Barbies, boy Barbies and Men Barbies. Barbie is always pretty and glamorous, yes, but she did not shape how i look at the world or influence my whole being. At least not in a negative way.
What she did teach me is that it is important to dress nice because first impressions do mean a lot in our culture. She taught me that you have to be confident and do your own thing, wear what you want as long as it makes you feel comfortable. She taught me how to be creative by creating themes for my playtime. She taught me that everyone should have their own style. She taught me that it is important to have a job in which you enjoy such as being a Vet if you love animals, being a gymnast if you like to tumble, being a baby sitter if you enjoy kids, etc. Many Barbies have a career that let’s little girls see it is important to go to college so that one day they can have a job that they love and be independent. Although as a child, I didn’t pay much attention to her job or life situation, because I was too busy accessorizing and having fun!
I had a Barbie convertable car, I never once thought that because my Barbie had a nice car that I would have a nice car or demand a nice car when I grew older. Just because I had a Barbie dream house does not mean I believed that I would one day have my own elevator in a house or own a jacuzzi. Just because I had some Barbies that did not look like me does not mean that I thought that was the way I should look someday. Just because I had a pregnant Barbie does not mean that I wanted to one day become pregnant, it didn’t influence me in the least, I never want kids. Just because Barbie had a boyfriend (Ken) did not mean that I ever wished to have a boyfriend or a man to support me since she had that, that did not cross my little girl mind. So maybe these examples will help you see that a little girl doesn’t take her toys THAT seriously… It is all in the name of make believe and fun.
Our society is taking a harmless thing way too far because they are over sensitive about body image. Young girls have creative minds, they think about playing, they dream, they have an enormous amount of free time to laugh and play and sing and dance. They do not sit and think about the future in the ways that an adult would. Their cognition is not advanced enough to think through what their life is going to be like, I know that I could not even fathom what I would be like in the future when I was little. The future to them is just an hour away. They do not understand the concept of time or reality for the most part. They do not envision themselves as grown ups with everything Barbie has because they know that Barbie is not REAL, even if sometimes they pretend she is. Kids just live in the moment, that is what being a kid is about, living in the moment. Don’t take a fun toy away from your child just because she looks a certain way, your daughter thinks about her dolls the same way she sees her my lil ponies and stuffed animals: as toys. Not as role models or a guide to her future.