I bought my daughter a
Barbie for Christmas. Sure, I could have chosen something else but I tried that
last year. I bought her a really nice desk and for the rest of the winter she
complained that she didn’t get anything for
It’s not her first Barbie. When you consider that the damage is already
done, one more isn’t so bad. Why is one never enough? Whenever we
go near Dufferin Mall we get sucked into Toys R Us like Dorothy getting sucked
into Oz. We stand in the Barbie aisle, looking almost healthy from the pink
glow off the boxes, and she lingers over every doll as if choosing the right
one is her best chance for everlasting happiness.
I didn’t want her to be a Barbie girl. I didn’t want her to like Barbie
at all. I disapprove of the lifestyle, the obsession with fashion, the unusual
body shape, the strange crowd of friends that all look like each other, and the
interest in men. I figured if she never saw her, never heard about her, she
wouldn’t know what she was missing. But of course she found out. If your child’s really inclined that way there’s not a lot you can do
I should have seen it
coming. Since she’s been able to walk she’s chosen to be in dresses – preferably with crinolines – and loved to
have things covered in flower or heart patterns, or pictures of happy little
kittens. She owned a black patent purse and matching dress shoes for a while,
even though the daycare dress code didn’t require it.
Her tastes unnerved me
but I considered them a harmless personality quirk until Barbie came along, then
I couldn’t stop myself from voicing some objection. That was probably a mistake.
If I hadn’t said anything about the weird feet, the unusual clothes and the lust
for material goods, it might not have become such a big interest. Her first
crush would have dwindled and faded as a normal part of growing up. Many
child-rearing experts say it’s natural for children to
experiment with a number of likes and dislikes before they develop into healthy
But no. I had to point
out that women can’t walk with feet like that. I had to say that
the flouncy dresses and spaghetti-strap tops don’t make Barbie look
strong. I had to ask why Barbie is always white. The answer to every question
was always eagerly defended. “Look at those fancy
women, mommy. They look strong!” “Look mommy! These are
running shoes. She can run in them!” She settled the last
question by finding Barbies that aren’t white, which meant
adding to the collection of course.
Or maybe it wouldn’t even have come up if she’d had better parenting
models, a normal mother figure. Maybe if I’d been more interested in
vacuuming, had more matching outfits or a vacation mini-van parked outside, she
wouldn’t have gone looking for it in the Barbie aisle. Maybe I should have
nursed her longer.
It can’t be normal for a girl to like Barbie, everything about her is so
unnatural. There must be some explanation, something I could have done better.
But that’s in the past and now I’m trying to make amends.
I’m trying to accept it, pretend it’s nothing serious and
hope it’s a phase she’ll outgrow. I’ve indulged her desire
for Barbie and Barbie accessories. We have teacher Barbie, veterinarian Barbie,
camping Barbie, big sister Barbie (and little sister Kelly) and an assortment
of Barbie friends. And, yes, we have Ken, and a guy named Allan we picked up
for cheap on his way to the beach.
We have Barbie’s jeep, her castle, her horse, her veterinarian office complete with a
dog and cat, though it’s the bed that barks and
meows (I told you it wasn’t normal). We have full
camping equipment including fire, hot dog skewers and a fake log and tree stump
that are both bright yellow. We have a teacher’s classroom with desk,
blackboard, clock, lockers, an alarming battery-operated school bell and four
scrubbed students, and endless numbers of blouses, t-shirts, boob tops, pants,
skirts, dresses, leggings, swimsuits, footwear, hair accessories (including
pastel-coloured bows for the horse) and a zillion little toys, tools and
utensils that you can barely see with the naked eye. Who knows how many we’ve swallowed.
And new this Christmas, a
Special Edition Collector’s Barbie in a gown that’s way over-the-top unless, of course, she puts it on Ken. I want to make
her happy but, like any normal parent, I’m also hoping this
unnatural interest will wear out if it’s satisfied, and next
year she’s ask for something normal, like Xena.
Heaven knows, I don’t look forward to coming out as the parent of a Barbie girl or to
publicly embracing my daughter’s preference in that
support group some eager mother set up – Parents and Friends uf Lovers Uf
Barbie, or PFLUB. I just want to have a normal, happy girl, to watch her grow
up to become an electrician or a carpenter or the first woman to win the indy
race car circuit. I want to see her settle down in a co-operative household
with two or three live-in lovers and any number of others. I don’t want her to be limited by choosing the wrong lifestyle.
One day, perhaps, she’ll see it my way.
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