Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh the pain....


It hurts my feminist nature-purist heart to see my kids favorite toys at the moment. I think a little part of me died when I realized that the My Little Pony love was going to turn into a long term relationship. And now HER, the plastic fantastic fake-o-rama "woman" that is Barbie. They love her too. Even Harper who has about 10 words- one of them is "ba-ba" which means Barbie. Oh my.

I resisted. Well not so much with the ponies. I thought that were just horses after all. Even if they were very lurid and looked kind of flammable. I saw the imaginative play that could happen with a horse-even one called Pinkie Pie (I know all their names, oh the shame). But Barbie, the anti-christ of feminists everywhere. I dug in my heels. Then I relented about a year and a half ago and Tans got a couple for her 4th birthday. But they were not played with, rather left naked in my path so I packed them up and I decided if they were not asked for for a week then off to the garage sale they would go. They girls did not ask and it was bye bye time for Blahbie.

Then about 6 months ago there was more asking for a Barbie. "Why?" I asked Tannah "Because she is beautiful" she said. Oh my heart. "beautiful like faeries and unicorns" hmmm. "Why don't you like Barbie?" she asked me. "Because no woman looks like that and she's so...fake." Tannah said "she's not real Mum! I play with unicorns and they are not real" I told her that she wasn't going to grow up to be a unicorn but she was going to grow up to be a woman and I didn't want her to think that's what women actually looked like.
"It's just pretend Mum, and you don't have to play with her"

That last bit got me. Who am I to pick her toys? Barbie is filling a part of her play in a way that a rag doll can't. So Tannah has a Bindi Irwin doll (of course) and Willow has a brunette barbie type doll and they both have a ballerina Barbie as they are both starting ballet next term (another post for another day). By resisting I was making them more exciting by being forbidden. I'm glad Tannah and I talked about it and I'm glad I let go and de-schooled myself a bit.

So we have Barbies and My Little Ponies and there is a lot of pink pink princessy stuff going on here at the moment. We also have a train set and a heap of plastic animals and duplo and blocks. Sometimes I feel like I overthink the whole toy thing. They like what they like and there is value in play with pretty much everything. I will not have a pornified fashion doll anywhere in my house however...But I can get a bit more zen with Barbie, I think.


anastasia_wolf said...

I feel a lot glad that Kira still hasn't asked for a Barbie. She'd rather a Wii or DS hehe. We have a few My Little Ponies and some of those Littlest Pet Shop things (Bobbyheads around here) but yeah I am not quite so bothered by stylised animals as I am by caricatured women. So anyway am just watching how all my friends deal with it and hoping I won't have to!

Garden Pheenix said...

My wee one loves my little pony because she adores horses. I see the colors and cringe... and then am ridiculously grateful she isn't into dolls and has no interest in Barbie. It would break my heart just a little bit to deal with that... but good on you for dealing with it objectively ^_^

Kristie said...

We have LOTS of my little ponies. Lots Lots Lots. And we have a barbie horse, and saddle club horses and lots of other horses. They have tea parties and go riding through the fields of New Zealand where Black Beauty lives. T loves their manes and tails and giving them baths. To her they are just horses with weird names.

I despise Barbie. And so does DH. I just so don't want them penetrating our house. I'll brainwash her if I have to!

Kestrel said...

Oh my. My son was flipping though the BigW catalogue today and told me "even though they're a girl toy, I don't know why, I just love My Little Pony".

I hear you on the Barbie pain. We've got a few here - including a cool coconut scented one with feet - big flat feet for staying on her surfboard. My girls have articulated what yours have - they're just pretend, they look funny and they are filling a play thing.

Big hugs, I feel your pain and then some.

Rachael said...

I hear what you're saying, but seriously. My two sisters and I had Barbies when we were growing up and to the best of my knowledge, none of us ever wished we'd grow up to look like Barbie or thought that's what girls turned into. Tannah's onto it, it's just pretend and I think it's ok to have them as a part of play. Of course, you can turn around and tell me to stfu since I have 2 boys LOL

Anonymous said...

I love barbies and my little ponies. I try to be nominalistic about toys etc and I see myself as a feminist. However I have never really understood the feminist dislike of barbie.

I think I credit children with be much more able to separate reality from fiction. The doll resembles the proportions of a real woman with about the same accuracy as any other four-limbed doll in a child's toy box. The doll's have very generic faces and hair. So why do feminists hate them? I think they are great dolls for game play. They have lots of props that can be added (or not). If you have a dozen barbies they all look the same (naked) so their is a reliance on the child to use imagination to give each doll an individual character. They have been around forever so your grandchildren cam inherit them while you watch on with nostalgia.

The advertising might be a bit much but honestly (and please laugh at my naïveté). Ihave honestly never seen a barbie ad (okay once every few years on tv). If kids are seeing the ads then perhaps they are just as influenced by what they are watching.

Just my thoughts.

Kylie said...

I agree with Cassie, in giving children credit for being able to distinguish real from pretend play.

I have watched these barbie debates over and over again and whilst it is easy for me to say, as my 6 year old dd doesn't have a love of them, I don't really see the big deal.

I think it becomes a big deal when us grown up girls decide that it is, probably because we as adults don't look that way, or whatever, it doesn't matter why really, we think our daughters are going to be scared for life if we allow them to play with a barbie.

I think like any toy they can take on a life of their own, whereby every gift the child receives for years in a row is barbie related.....that is what I have the problem with. A Barbie or some other 'well marketed' toy is fine in amongst a toy box of other imaginative toys, but when that is pretty much all the girls have access to, well let's just, its certainly not for us. :)

So a big long winded ramble there!!

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