I’ll admit it. I loved playing with my Barbie dolls. My imitation Barbie dream house was one of my prized possessions as a kid. My only complaint was that none of my Barbies had bangs – so I gave one bangs one day, much to my mother’s displeasure.
Other than that, Barbies were perfect in my eyes. Not because they were anatomically incorrect. I didn’t care if there was no humanly way possible to achieve Barbie’s proportions. I never thought about that as a kid.
I never stood in front of the mirror holding the Barbie wondering why I would never look like her any more than I held one of my few baby dolls and wondered why I didn’t look like it.
They were dolls.
My mother never questioned it either. She was disappointed – I learned this as a teenager – that I chose Barbie over the baby dolls she wanted me to play with, but she wasn’t concerned I would ever compare my body to a doll. She only wanted me to play with baby dolls so I would want to have kids someday – again, something she told me when I was a teenager. It backfired on her, but that’s another post.
So, given my extensive experience playing with the evil, horrific Barbies and the current trend of thinking they make young girls feel like shit about their bodies I started wondering if the dolls themselves were to blame. The inanimate pieces of plastic that get to wear glamorous clothes and live in mansions and live the life a little girl dreams up.
Can there be an unhealthy relationship between child and doll without mitigating circumstances? Without influence and pressure from other sources? Can an inanimate piece of plastic made to look like – not an ideal woman – a female really cause body issues for a child without the same child hearing or seeing other messages to reinforce the beauty standard of today?
And what is the beauty standard anyway? Last time I checked being different, throwing those differences in everyone’s faces, and then getting offended when those differences are made fun of was the new standard. But that could just be me.
I find it curious that no matter the generation, parents always seem to put an extraordinary amount of pressure on their kids to look, act, be something they may not want to be. There’s always a new villainous toy ready to snatch their child’s soul or make the child depressed or be the reason why the child isn’t who they wanted them to be.
So maybe – and again I could be wrong, but I’m going to put this out there – so maybe our children’s issues and baggage and trauma doesn’t really have anything to do with the toys and dolls and video games they play with, but more with how they’re told they should feel about them…