Well. This article just made me rethink Barbie. I’ve been against Barbie for the emphasis on looks and the dolls always being so skinny, and I’ve been vocally against GoldieBlox for some of the reasons in this article. But I didn’t think that Barbie is actually not too bad at sending the message that you can be pretty and like sparkly pink dresses, and still be a astronaut. Somehow, this was lost on me even as I enjoy Barbie: Life in the Dream House, when she quips about an astronaut being her 37th career. GoldieBlox, unfortunately, sends the message that you should conform to stereotypical boy things if you want to be any good at STEM subjects. Either/or, in regards to girly and STEM. However, Barbie is AND. You can be girly AND be into STEM or whatever. I buy my daughter the Ninjago LEGOs she loves so much, that she’ll play in while wearing a floor-length, custom, frilly princess dress, the sort of think Barbie would approve of, but that GoldieBlox would say is wrong.
I think I’m going to loosen up on the Barbies. The more I think about it, the more I realize Barbie isn’t trying to limit what girls can do and be, though GoldieBlox is certainly sending the message that anything stereotypical girly is bad and should be shunned (while hypocritically using lavender and pageants to try to get girls interested to begin with).
Earlier, I asked my daughter, who is a fan of the Life in the Dreamhouse series, what she thinks of Barbie. She told me that she thinks Barbie is brave and nice and can be anything she wants to be. She’s not picking up on the supposed sexism and narrow-mindedness that we adults attribute to Barbie. She’s only seeing positive things, positive traits most of us want our daughters to have. This makes it hard to justify continuing my ban on Barbie toys. So no, there’s not “I think I’ll loosen up” about it. If what my four-year-old is taking away from Barbie is that she and her friends are good things who aren’t limited in what they can be, then Barbie, BARBIE!, is a positive role-model who has gained a bad rep that just plain doesn’t apply.