Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Banning Barbie

So, it seems that a Vest Virginia law-maker wants to ban Barbie, citing that she teaches girls that you have to be beautiful rather than smart.
The kid has just gotten into Barbie. She play princess with them, it's cute and she has fun. All is good. It's like when she plays with her baby dolls to play family. Cute. She also dresses up like a pirate and wages war, so she has balanced play.
Since she is old enough to start noticing societal trends, my brother and I have started to enforce more positive images. Eat healthy foods, it's more important to be smart than pretty, etc.
We would have done this regardless of what the kid is playing with, because it's what familes do. They teach their kids how to be functioning adults. Barbie? Shouldn't be what is teaching your kid self-image. And banning Barbie won't really help the problem there.
If you want to address where girls are getting this image problem look at the two places that actually influence girls, even as young as mine. Family and media. There is a reason why she is allowed to watch Playhouse Disney and PBS and very little else. Because they don't portray women as either helpless or eye candy. In one show that the kid loves the girl saves the day by using math. While I hate the show (it's geared towards pre-schoolers. Math for pre-schoolers is really slow at times, and the kids can be kind of dense.) it's neat. So is my favorite show which features a girl who saves the day using vocabulary. Hee!
Only as a special treat can the kid watch shows like Hannah Montana or the like. Shows that feature vapid girls doing vapid things. But every day a lot of girls watch those shows and aspire to only be a rock star or a model. The kid's current dream is to be an astronaut. She's very serious about this and quizzed me this morning about space travel. She's four. I fear her sometimes. Heh.
In our house the emphasis is placed on intellegence not looks. It's placed on what you do in life, and we encourage her to do good things not because she should but because she can. I'm hoping that if I beat these things into her head when she encounters these girls in school she won't decide to put her dreams on hold to fit into their mold of pretty and popular. She won't just give up and be what all these girls have seen on TV and been told by their mothers they should be. If you really want to help these girls let me assure you it isn't all what they play with, it's what they are told. Tell them they can be anything. Encourage them, answer their questions, show them that they can do anything by following your dreams too. The media could lay off too. It's hard when the kid encounters one of those "I'm pretty so I don't have to be smart" girls. In my house we make fun of them. Not the best way, but I'm hoping she associates that level of dumb cunning with humiliation.
Anyway, banning Barbie won't help the actual problem of self image in our girls. And it irriates me that they will ban a doll rather than address the problem. That's not the way to fix things.

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