One of my five year old daughters was given a Barbie for her birthday recently. I must admit I freaked out a little at first but then got over it. But now she wants a Barbie she has seen on the TV for Christmas.
I don't want to be a hysterical, helicopter mum overreacting to things, but I also don't want to be a blind, uneducated mum ignoring the risks associated with presenting a distorted body image to a very young child.
I have dealt with bulimia and body image issues my whole life so I recognize I am going to be a little touchy on the issue, but I am hoping that means I will be mindful too.
I played a lot with Barbies growing up. I was never into baby dolls, I loved the adult Barbies, her wardrobe etc etc. But its hard to draw an isolated line from Barbies to my body and food issues. My mother was largely responsible for instilling a strong fear and shame of fatness, issues o severe restriction round food etc..
But that doesn't mean that Barbies were helpful for me.. At the same time I recognize that very few dolls are anatomically accurate, and that there is risk in making something more attractive simply by restricting it to a child.
We just googled Barbie on my computer and I asked her what how Barbie's body was different to ours - her response was "very different, cause she's so tall!"
I don't know, I am 'talking' out loud. I really try to promote my kids to love their bodies, we have a saying in our house "Your body belongs to you!" and my kids are not subject to shaming tactics, overt body hatred or restrictive food patterns but still, I worry..
So.. my questions;
Do you think Barbies are helpful, harmful or neutral for little girls?
What age, if at all, do you think is appropriate for girls to play with Barbies?
I look forward to reading and processing different points of view