A few years ago, when my preteen was in the thick of her “Barbie craze”, she wanted not just to have as many Barbie’s as we could afford. She also wanted to be Barbie. Retrospectively this is really funny, because obviously she couldn’t change her appearance but.. At 5 – the imagination is not limited. Emilie believed if she wished hard enough, was good enough, and did enough chores (or whatever I told her) she could have blonde hair and blue eyes like her role model – Barbie.
For a while I laughed and entertained it, using it to get her to eat her veggies and do things she generally wouldn’t do. “If you eat all your greens you will have blue eyes like Barbie”. I didn’t realise how detrimental this actually was until for her 6th birthday – when that was her only wish. The one thing she wanted that I couldn’t give her. She wanted to just for one day – have blonde hair. As over-the-top as I am, I bought her a blonde wig at a Chinese shop to make sure that her birthday was all that she wanted it to be. She wore it with absolute pride.
Is this healthy? No, did I consider it at the time? Not really. Then again there wasn’t much option back then – Barbie only came in one shape and size. She was white. Straight blonde hair with blue eyes. While she was new anyway, my child always found ways to make Barbie’s hair a little more like ours lol! All Barbie’s friends in all the movies were the same, some with darker straight hair, but none fitting even close to our descriptions. It was probably why “The Princess and the Frog” became such a favourite in our home, because it allowed for a girl that was a little different to be the Princess at the end. To have the happy ending.
When Barbie sent me a press release to let me know that they were adding 4 new body types, 9 skin tones, 13 face sculpts, 9 eye colours and 13 new hairstyles my heart soared. The Fashionista range includes 100 dolls of diverse appearance and continues to grow. I am very aware of how impressionable my daughter is about her appearance and what I am teaching her about her own appearance in the way I love and care for myself.
Barbie’s not-so-new range of Fashionista dolls (launched in 2015) assists us to help our children to recognise a broader view of beauty. One that incorporates the diversity that surrounds us. Exposing our children to diversity and providing them with toys that allow them to see themselves in their playing provides a platform for them to be proud of who they are naturally.
The Fashionista range also incorporates 180 careers, making it even easier to see the dream in their hearts, come to life. By allowing our children to choose a Barbie in their own image, their friends or friendship circles we allow them to see the beauty not only in themselves but also in the various shapes, colours and styles that surround them.
Whilst Emilie is over Barbie dolls, I am actually considering going to find a doll that looks like her, with her own career aspirations depicted. Not because she would ever actually play with it, but because I know that seeing is believing. She could even create a vision board with her Barbie.
For International Women’s Day Barbie has gone beyond expectations and honoured modern-day role models through it’s Shero program. They have launched a global call to action asking us to tag and share female role models who inspire them using the #MoreRoleModels on social media. More about it in the video below. Big ups to Barbie for being revolutionary and not only honouring our women in history but taking huge strides in acceptance, in diverse beauty and most importantly in believing you really can do anything you put your mind too!
Coincidentally today is also Barbie’s 59th birthday – Happy Birthday Barbie!