Thursday, May 10, 2012

Away from the Barbie World!

My daughter is a senior toddler and despite my best attempts against it, she has been exposed to toys of the likes of the Barbie doll. Be it television commercials selling Barbie and her high heel shoes with sparkling dresses, be it the numerous animation shows for children where Barbie and her likes are the main protagonists, I find her a part of my living room almost every single day. If it’s not  television, then it is Barbie merchandise in the markets or on another child’s body. She is on sharpeners, pencils, dresses, school bags,  water bottles, sun glasses, shoes and sandals , even on moisturizing lotion bottles, As time goes by I find it more and more difficult to save my daughter from Barbie and the burdensome influence she brings with herself.
So are you one of those who after reading so far are thinking think what is wrong with me and why I grudge a pretty, petite, plastic doll with goody-goody image.
Even if one were to look at Barbie as merely a toy and nothing else, I find many things wrong with her, starting with:
·         She is a little child’s doll but has an adult body.  Now why would you want a toy to introduce the concept of breasts to a child, that too as young as that? I have thought about it from all aspects and I don’t see a single merit in it though there are numerous and grave demerits.   
·         To top it, she is very well endowed in chest area and has a really tiny waist, her legs are endless and her hair are golden and perfectly styled. Have you seen a little girl like that? Have you seen a real woman like that?  If Barbie were a real girl/woman, she would be 5ft 9 inches tall, with her vital stats being 36”-18”-33” and she would weigh close to 50 kg(~110 pounds)*(check reference below). So, in other words, if Barbie were a real girl, she would be termed anorexic and would be taken to hospital for both physical and phsycological treatment. I don’t want my daughter idolizing something that stands for vanity before sanity.
·         Her skin complexion and her hair color and texture is so different from the kind of people around us in India. I almost find the doll racial, asking people to accept a very old and outdated concept of beauty that too imported from a foreign world.
·         She wears make up and high heels and other accessories on all ocassions. Come to think of it, a girl with a body like that, why on the world does she need three tones of eye-shadow, with eyeliner and lipstick. She always wears high heels, even when she is “Doctor Barbie”.  So what is it really telling the lil girl playing with it, that enhancing your looks is going to remain your constant goal and  make up is  going to be an everyday essential commodity when you grow up.
·         I see her solving very trivial and stereotypical problems – like inviting friends to tea party,  baking buns, freeing mermaids,  giving makeup/grooming tips, making fashionable dresses(yes! gimme a break!), being a pop star or being a victim protagonist of a fairy tale, where some evil character is making life hell for the docile Barbie in Victorian dresses, whose highest point of achievement in life is getting married to the prince who once got manipulated by that evil character. If Barbie was doing other things, like architecting fancy buildings,  building a  car engine, going on a space mission,  doing classical dance or raising a large family single handedly, etc..  she would be the kind of role model that I’d like for my child.
·         Barbie promotes gender stereotyping to the hilt: Everything about her is pink, starting from her skin tone, her lipstick, her shoes, her bags, her dresses, her sun shades, her accessories. If htat was not enough, all the merchandize with Barbie even mentioned on it is bound to have something pink about it, even Barbie roller-skates are pink. Now, there is nothing wrong with pink, it is a very soothing color, but when did it start becoming the banner color for all things ‘girlie’? DO we even need a banner color? Barbie’s friend Ken has blue wardrobe and besides his tanned body and golden hiar, you find that he stands for things blue. But color is just a small little thing,  her gender stereotypic encompasses marriage as the ultimate victory for girls, solving tea party logistics issues as serious and grave problems instead of teaching children about caring for their environment or contributing in building a new world.  
·         My biggest and severest problem with Barbie is that she seems to say that irrespective of who you are, what you do, how important you actions are, the most important thing about you is your appearance. If you are perfectly groomed,  you life will eventually be fine.  Even if you are going to save lives as a doctor in an hospital, you need to “Look” perfect while doing that! For me Barbie is the goddess of superficial!

I don’t know how many months or years before my little girl puts her foot down and demands that she possess a Barbie like every other girl she knows. I wish I could explain and make her understand why she deserves so much more than a Barbie, but maybe I am asking for too much, too soon.