Why do I hate Barbie? There are so many compelling reasons to chose from. But I'll start by saying that I have now witnessed first hand how immediate and encompassing her appeal is to little girls. By the time I got home (too late) la cocotte was wandering around Barbie clutched in her arms saying "mon princess, mon princess". She insisted on sleeping with Barbie, going to daycare with Barbie and last night we (la cocotte and I) attended a track meet (as spectators) with freakin Barbie. When I pry Barbie out of her arms at night so that she's not the first thing la cocotte sees when she wakes up, la cocotte immediately wakes up and demands her back. So clearly this Barbie is adored by my toddler (and toddlers and children everywhere from what I understand). So why hate Barbie? Let's start with the fact (thanks Wikipedia):
1. One of the most common criticisms of Barbie is that she promotes an unrealistic idea of body image for a young woman, leading to a risk that girls who attempt to emulate her will become anorexic. A standard Barbie doll is 11.5 inches tall, giving a height of 5 feet 9 inches at 1/6 scale. Barbie's vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (chest), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). At 5'9" tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. In 1963, the outfit "Barbie Baby-Sits" came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight which advised: "Don't eat!." The same book was included in another ensemble called "Slumber Party" in 1965 along with a pink bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs., which would be around 35 lbs. underweight for a woman 5 feet 9 inches tall.
2. In 1997, Barbie's body mold was redesigned and given a wider waist, with Mattel saying that this would make the doll better suited to contemporary fashion designs. However, the Silkstone Barbie line introduced in 2000 as well as the Model Muse Barbie body mold introduced in 2004 feature Barbie dolls with dimensions similar to those Barbies manufactured prior to 1997. The Model Muse Barbie has a very small waist, defined abs, a collarbone, defined ankles and even cleavage. The fashion of Barbies created before 1997 will fit both Silkstone dolls and the Model Muse body sculpt, but fashions created after 1997 do not fit either of these Barbie types.
3. In July 1992, Mattel released Teen Talk Barbie, which spoke a number of phrases including "Will we ever have enough clothes?", "I love shopping!", and "Wanna have a pizza party?" Each doll was programmed to say four out of 270 possible phrases, so that no two dolls were likely to be the same. One of these 270 phrases was "Math class is tough!" (often misquoted as "Math is hard"). Although only about 1.5% of all the dolls sold said the phrase, it led to criticism from the American Association of University Women. In October 1992 Mattel announced that Teen Talk Barbie would no longer say the phrase, and offered a swap to anyone who owned a doll that did.
Okay, so I guess I have to let the shit that happened in 1963 go... it was almost half a century ago BUT I cannot forgive or accept the unhealthy and unrealistic proportions of even today's Barbie nor do I feel at ease with my toddler worshiping a scantily clad, heavily made up girl-women. And maybe I am over-thinking or being too sensitive but I hear the unspoken message to my toddler at 2.5 years of age - THIS is beauty, THIS is what you should be. Give me 100 Dora dolls in their clashing outfits, annoying back-packs and constant repetition but their healthy child-like proportions with even a hint of baby belly any day over plastic Barbie.
I know some of this is personal and has to do with my own history. Of COURSE I struggled with body issues and unhealthy eating patterns/weight loss... honestly if there is a woman who ran collegiate track & field who has been consistently healthy in her body, body image & eating habits, please introduce me to her! Still to this day I spend an alarming amount of energy worrying about my weight and body fat (as this blog shows) and I want freedom from all of that superficial and sometimes dangerous crap for my daughter!
Then of course there is what Barbie represents... as much as she tells my daughter about beauty and what a woman should be - she heartlessly tells me that ultimately I have very little control over my daughter`s environment and influence; she is gleeful in her assertion that she & her message WILL weasel her way into my daughter's conscious despite my preferences and efforts (quite an impressive message for a $19.95 hunk of plastic eh?).
So I know that maybe I am making too big of a deal out of this. I don't blame hubby for allowing Barbie into the house. She came as a gift from an acquaintance who barely knows us and who is from a different time. As much as I LOATHE what she chose, I do recognize the intended kindness of this woman who only wanted to make la cocotte happy. By the time the gift was opened, it was too late to do anything about it; it was love at first sight. And I know that if it hadn't been now with Barbie than it would have been something else and soon. I know that next week she will lie forgotten at the bottom of the toy box if I play my cards right. But I am upset. I`m upset because I feel that my concerns are being disregarded. I`m upset because I of all the crap I did not want in our lives Barbie was probably number 1. And I am dismayed by how taken la cocotte is with this ideal of beauty.