Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why I Bought My Son a Barbie

If you know me well, you'd know I'm a moderate feminist.

Who never, ever would have considered buying a Barbie doll for her kids. Just a month ago, I spoke those words out loud to a group of friends at a party.

And here I am, a month later having purchased two of them for Easter baskets.

You see, my son has a keen interest in this "Barbecue Princess" he sees on previews and in print at the library. He sees them and their missing shoes (always, right?) in the 4-year-old-and-up area he was just graduated to at the gym kidcare. Because you know, those stinking shoes are choking hazards and also, profanity inducing to parents who have to pick them up or worse, step on them while barefoot. Just as hazardous as LEGO, and much less valuable.

Sort of.

I hate Barbie for all she stands for (or doesn't stand for at all, rather). And I'm saying that having a personal friend who I grew up with that works for Mattel as a Barbie designer. Yes, I saw the new launch of the "curvy" (ehm, normal) Barbie dolls and I didn't buy them. Why? Because they aren't appealing. They wear ugly denim skirts (and I like denim skirts!) and glasses and relatively modest clothing. That's all fine and good, but what, may I ask, is more appealing to small kids? Denim skirts or glittery tulle dresses and jewelry? The curvy variety just wasn't going to appeal. And so I left them on the shelf. I see those hitting Target red stickers pretty dang quickly. And I hate to say that I personally contributed to their demise by opting for the more popular skinny varieties.

Benjamin has been telling me he wants to watch Barbecue Princess movies. And while I tell him no, I really have no good reason to prohibit the book reading or imaginative play with the actual dolls. For all I know, Barbie might actually find herself a decent job in a spaceship or take a ride on Captain Hook's ship. It might serve her well. The movies, Benjamin knows, are for "older kids" because honestly, I can't bother to stomach the worthless plots and zero bits of moral value they provide. I just can't do it. When he's older and if he still has a love affair with the skinny lady, I'll revisit things. I try to encourage all forms of book reading, even with the plots being SO HARD to stomach.

I didn't always hate Barbie. I had a plethora growing up. One year, I even received three of the same variety at my park birthday party. I was wearing a sweet neon splotched sweater that I can vividly picture with a french braid and my brother was scowling in the background wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers blue baseball cap.

I tried to divert Benjamin's attention. I tried to tell him no. And you know what? He told me he would do it himself. At barely four, he was expressing to me that forbidding this (relatively harmless but obnoxious) doll would cause him to make poor choices against my wishes. And so I changed my wishes. I reevaluated. I reasoned. Because the last thing I wanted was for him to choose poor behavior or worse, feel ashamed of something he likes.

I had two criteria for a Barbie doll. She had to have pink and a crown. He loves both of those things and I think he'd quickly throw my investment to the birds if she didn't have that princess appeal. I also added a final criteria that she would have no shoes or removable clothing. I'm not searching for those stinking things. I bought Benjamin this ballerina one and a beachy one-piece one for Claire. I even bought some books and one about Barbie becoming President (insert laughing until you cry emoji here). Who knows, maybe by Christmas we'll expand the line to a Ken doll and some mini skinny, super tan and ripped kids. An update will be in order.

So on Easter Sunday, we celebrate Jesus and also, welcome the good ol' American feminist killer to our home.

Anyone else ever purchased something (they previously swore off) for their kids?


Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I request a video of his reaction! Barbecue!? That's adorable

I think it's a far more awesome move for feminism to purchase a Barbie for your son and to embrace and support it then to make him conform to gender stereotypes with his toys.

Mama Bear said... [Reply to comment]

In January, Sonja, Keleen and I took our kids to chuck e cheese. The horror the horror. We all had a blast! I hope Benjamin loves his new toys!
I once told a kid I was babysitting my feminist reasons for not liking Barbie. He told his mom who later asked me about it. I stood by my reasons but was pretty embarrassed. This same mom tried to burst my bubble when I thought I could be a great and happy mom and wife and also be a high powered physician. She told me I "couldn't do it all." I really hated that. As an adult I've realized she was right. The barbies did no harm. And happiness is a balance and I don't want to try to "do it all"

B. Wilson @ Windy {City} Wilsons said... [Reply to comment]

I'll try to deliver. ­čśë

B. Wilson @ Windy {City} Wilsons said... [Reply to comment]

The horror, the horror. ­čśé The only thing I have against Chuck-E-Cheese is the price! I don't want my kids begging to go there all the time (after discovering its existence) because I will be broke. Haha! I personally would love to try their new pizza and see the creepy show again.

I bet those words were hard to hear from that mom. It's hard to eat your words, but also wonderful how our kids are helping broaden OUR perspectives. I'm a much better mom and person for it. I really think when I return to teaching that I will teach with even more conviction and heart BECAUSE of my three kids.

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

I don't know if this counts as I didn't swear I wouldn't I just regretted it after the cat was out of the bag; Disneys little mermaid. What a spoiled rotten I want my way and I want it now 16 year old demanding daughter of a king. She almost had their entire underground kingdom RUINED because of some crush on a dude from the wrong side of the tracks. Ridiculous. G is well aware of my dislike though, and recited with an eyeroll why I like Tianna best because she's loving, respectful to her parents and hardworking. Ariel can suck it.

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

All kinds of things: Golden book versions of Star Wars Episodes 4-6 as a compromise to not see the films until age 8, wooden swords, giant pouch princess dresses. Pretty much anything that pushes an extreme example of sex or violence or doesn't honor the dignity of a person.

The one thing that I will never compromise on? Guns.
They will not have real or pretend ones until they can first go to a range around age 8 and learn safety. My brother owns and shoots (target practice, not a hunter), and he's been helpful in educating the kids: ammo and weapons are always locked up, stored in separate lock boxes, and he discloses the location when we come over along with the warning to the kids to never touch a gun -even if they think it's a toy- go get an adult.

The kids are not allowed person on person violence in their games. The swords, bow and arrows, and anything else may be used for target practice, hunting animals or defending against pretend enemies. They can sword play with each other and have learned how to win without "killing" or "fatal" blows.

I foresee us taking them to a department of natural resources hunting class in the future, but not until age 8+.

A Few Good Eggs said... [Reply to comment]

Oh, man. I suspect parenting is full of these dilemmas. Sounds like you have to pick your battles.

I haven't faced this yet, but I echo what another commenter said - there will never be guns of any kind in our house (maybe with a daughter this isn't a thing?).