Friday, 7 September 2012

Fighting a loosing battle

 
39-18-33
 
 
Those are what Barbie's measurements would be if she was a real woman!!  Why am I posting this you ask?
Well the other day my not even five year old daughter was over at a friends house playing.  They have two little girls 4.5 and 6.  When she came home she was literally quivering with excitement.  "Look what I got Mommy!"  She was holding two Barbies in her hands.  " They GAVE them to me.  I told them I didn't have any Barbies and they said I could have these!!!!!!"
 
My heart skipped a beat.... I took a deep breath and my mind was racing.. how to respond, how to respond.......
I ended up saying wow isn't that nice of them.  Well you can play with them for a bit and then give them back.  Of course her response was.  "No Mommy they GAVE them to me to keep.  Their mommy said it was okay."  I repeated my first statement and then let it go.  All the time the wheels turning trying to figure out how to get them out of the house.

Now at this point you may be asking yourself what's the big deal?  They're only toys and she doesn't know about the fact that if Barbie were a real woman she wouldn't have enough body fat to menstruate or that her neck would be twice as long a any real woman or the fact that her feet are permanently on tip toe for high heels.  She's just a little girl who likes to play with dolls.
Well consider this.  My daughter is still not yet five and therefor she still has what Maria Montessori calls an absorbent mind.  This means she absorbs everything in her environment without even trying.  Montessori knew this and this is why she made her materials with exceptional attention to detail.  The pink tower may just appear to be a collection of pink cubes which the child stacks but the top cube just happens to measure 1cm3.  The rest of the cubes increase progressively in the algebraic series of the third power. Coincidence? No way!  Each material is so much more than it seems.  The child doesn't know this but is absorbing it all for later use.

Now think for a moment.  My daughter is touching, viewing and manipulating these plastic Barbies all while absorbing a female image which is completely unhealthy and unattainable.
When I told my sister this story she said.  We played with Barbies all the time and we're fine.  Hmm really?  You have no body issues at all now as an adult??

Anyhow the real question is how did I deal with it.  Well in the end I was talking to another friend who home schools her children and she suggested doing a trade.  The other day when L was over playing with her children all four children (including a boy) were playing with the oldest girls porcelain doll collection.  They played for hours pretending the dolls were sick in hospital,going to school, having tea parties and dressing them.
I just so happens that I had two porcelain dolls that I'd been saving for L from my grandmother.  I talked to L and said I had something much better than the Barbies and if she would like to return them I could bring out the other dolls.  We had a short talk about how the Barbies look nothing like real women but really at this age I don't feel it's right to have her start concerning herself with body image.  Well she was beside herself when I presented her with the two beautiful dolls.  She couldn't wait to return the Barbies which next to the dolls looked like cheap pieces of plastic.  My friend told me that you can find the porcelain dolls in almost any thrift shop for around $5.

So one battle successfully fought and won by Mommy but as my husband said you can't keep the rest of the world away from her forever. For now at 4 and a half I can certainly do my damdest to try!


6 comments:

anh said...

I really appreciated this post that included your thoughts and then the suggestions that came forth, and finally the course of action you took!

Thanks!

thefullmontessori said...

Good solution!!! Holy cow, I don't envy you, what a pain to have to deal with Barbies at such a tender age. What a blessing that she chose the beautiful porcelain dolls over the Barbie.

Inhaling Hope said...

It is sad to me that we live in a culture that would even make "dolls" that look like Barbies. Good for you for figuring out a solution that made you both happy and got rid of the barbies.

Olives and Pickles said...

good for you!!
Last fall we went to visit her aunt and she gave her two barbies and one ken (like one barbie wasn't enough uh!!) well I didnt want to be rude with my sister in law and tell her not! but anyways we accepted them.. After few days C was done playing with them and I asked her if I could put them away in the storage..and she said yes!
I felt relieve about it..i am not a big fan of barbies at all!

Justine said...

Nice post! Hope she would forget about the barbies for good.

Umm Umamah said...

Awesome post. I too got stuck in such a situation when an elderly relative gave it to my then almost 5 years old as a gift. I could not say "No, no Barbie's please!" as I have to some friends. So I just let her play with it for a while much to my boys disgust. The Barbie's clothes were just so ridiculous my boys just hated it more and were quite vocal about it. My lil girl asked me to stitch a long skirt for it which I did. Quite a few of her friends have Barbie's ughh. So all the while I kept saying lil things here and there talking to her how lovely her other baby dolls and other dolls were and how Brabie really wasn't a lil girls toy but a woman doll. You are right they do absorb and I was horrified when she said one day that she wanted wanted to be slim like Barbie. Oh boy! SO I sat down with her and told her this is what I had meant all this time that when lil girls play like Barbie they start thinking that's how they should look. Honestly my instinct was to just take it away, but that wouldn't solve the problem. I wanted her to make her own decision. So one day (finally!) she just just said I think I am going to throw my Barbie in the garbage, I don't think I should play with her any more because it's not good. So thankfully she threw it much to her brothers surprise. I was so proud of my lil girl.

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