Wednesday, February 15, 2006

In which Barbie rears her perfect plastic head in our household

Sister and I had a doozy of a conversation about a year ago, when she was still 6 years old. It started off with her declaring, "I hate President Bush!"

I was unsure which route to go first--the easy, we-don't-use-hate one, or the harder one in which I explained how declarations like this would likely get her into trouble. I chose easy first. "Sister, we've talked about the word 'hate' before. 'Hate' is an ugly and awful word, and I really don't like hearing it come out of your mouth. You're too young to hate anyone, and I hope you never will!"
"Okay," she said, "I don't hate him then. But I really don't like him at all, Mama."
Sigh. "Well, do you want to tell me why you dislike the President so much?"
"Because he chops down all the forests and builds Barbie factories where all the trees and animals used to be," she told me with disgust.
"Sister, I just want to tell you that when you...what did you just say?!"
My ex-mother-in-law, a former hippie and a near-communist leftie, must've been proseltyzing again. This time, perhaps not so successfully as she might have hoped. Or maybe this was right on target? I don't know. I assure you that I don't teach Sister things like this.

I wasn't intending to turn this into a post about kids and politics, though perhaps that's a post for another day. Rather, this post is about Barbie. Sister has always had a simple relationship with Barbie. She's always declared in no uncertain terms that she just really doesn't like Barbies and prefers stuffed animals, thank you very much. She's had one single Barbie for about 4 years or so now, a premature gift from my mother one Christmas that she has seldom played with.

That is, until yesterday. Yesterday, there was a package waiting for her when she got home from school. It was from Husband's aunt and uncle who are nothing if not generous with the children's gifts at any holiday, birthday, or even season change. When Sister opened it, lo and behold, there was a brown-haired Barbie with 3 different outfits, including accessories like plastic shoes and fairy wings. I responded for her, "A Barbie! Well, I've always like Barbies, although I know you've said you don't care for Barbies that much." I looked up at Sister, who was still staring silently at the Barbie--but raptly silent and not disappointedly silent.

"I used to not like Barbies because their commercials are so...," and here she grappled for a word, "...girly. But I just changed my mind," she breathed. She slid off her stool to go unite the new Barbie with the other, older Barbie. My Barbie-hating daughter stayed back in her room, changing their outfits and making them talk to each other for the next hour. Then she took them on our walk with the dog. She laid them in the dish drainer while she set the table for dinner. She slept with them last night. And this morning, she brought them out with her for breakfast. Has my bug-loving, tadpole-catching, mudpie-stirring daughter just become girly? We'll see...

17 comments:

Amber said...

Ahh, Barbie. She enchants them all somehow. As long as they happily and quietly entertain eachother I'm not too particular what they play with. I would like to hear more about President Bush and his Barbie factories though- and your MIL. Sounds like great blog material.

Piece of Work said...

Wow, I will be so THRILLED if I can keep Vivian off Barbie until she's 7. Sorry she's suddenly in favor with Bean but at least you made it this far!

Jess Riley said...

That's hilarious. Chopping down forests to build Barbie factories!!! LOL I get this image of smokestakes belching clouds of black smoke into the air while a conveyor belt pumps an army of empty-eyed plastic Barbies out the door as evil music plays.

mothergoosemouse said...

I think I had one Barbie while growing up. Meanwhile, Tacy already has a boatload of them - procured at local garage sales by her daddy.

I can tolerate Barbie. On the other hand, Bratz are a complete no-go.

Queen Beth said...

I hate Barbie. I stood firm at first. "My daughters will never have a doll that promotes bad body images in little girls!" Well, when you see your daughter staring at them with longing in their eyes, it's hard to resist. Then I had to get mine down from the attic. Then I had to buy a case. Then I had to buy new clothes. Now it's a mess. Duchess makes Barbie and GI Joe kiss and Princess gets mad because Duchess will not help her clean them up.

Moonface said...

I cannot stand the Barbie. I vowed not to get any for Em, but of course the inevitable happened - she got one as a present on her birthday from a friend.

And a 6 year old hating Bush for chopping down forests and building barbie factories - that's funny!

Belle said...

Awwww! I was both a girly girl AND a tomboy growing up. It just totally depended on my mood, what I'd play with on any given day. One day it was baby dolls and easy bake oven, the next day I was making 'roads' in the sandy end of our driveway for my hotwheels. I did have Barbies, but once I reached my preteen years, I cut their hair into wild styles and punked them all out. Wish I could find them now; those were the coolest looking Barbies I'd EVER seen once I got through with them.

Nancy said...

I'm not a fan of the Barbie, but my girlie-girl digs her and all the accessories. But I'm with Julie, at least Barbie's better than the Bratz...

Nixie Knox said...

It sounds like your daughter and my daughter would be life long friends. The Z wears boy's underpants, "They just fit better," plays with dirt, climbs trees and wants to be a bat. Then she requested a Barbie for xmas and I nearly peed my pants - she never plays with Barbie. She had one - currently naked in the bottom of her toy basket.

So she got the Barbie for xmas. And she is currently stuffed next to the older Barbie at the bottom of the toy basket, never to see the light of day.

Suzanne said...

We've avoided Barbie thus far (okay, my daughter's only 2, so that's not saying much). She hasn't shown too much interest in dolls yet, either, so perhaps this is a good thing?

Anyway, your daughter sounds quite sensible (I love the Barbie factory comment!). Perhaps her Barbie can save the forests!

Rachelle said...

So glad I have a boy first. Then I don't have to worry about Barbies yet. One day they will take over the world. I just know it.

theyellowwallpaper said...

Admittedly, I haven't crossed the Barbie bridge as of yet since my daughter is only three years old.

But, I do find it funny that Bush and Barbie were mentioned together in one post. Then again, I have had a couple of glasses of wine :o)

Mama D said...

I used to play with barbies for hours and hours as a little girl. I was also kinda tomboyish. I had an older brother who I wrestled with and always tried to impress with burps and farts. I don't ever remember thinking that I wanted to look anything like barbie when I grew up. I just liked dressing them and cutting their hair. Hmmm foreshadowing my profession perhaps?

The Daring One said...

Ahhh, she certainly can cast a spell, that one. Good luck keeping her a tomboy.

Were you really posting this at 3:16am?

Mommygoth said...

Eh, you know? Barbie is a completely unrealistic body image. But little girls really don't think about that - they're looking at her hair, and all the cool clothes. It's hard for me to imagine Sister choosing Barbie over bugs, but it will make shopping for her a little easier this Christmas!

Dawn said...

The Barbie thing comes...and goes. Mine had the Barbies and the Disney Princess Barbies - So I ran out to buy Latina Barbie and Black Princess Barbie and then Ken and Kwame ( I am making that up) to have lots of inter-racial dating.

But I haven't seen the Barbies in a couple of months now.

But don't get me started on American Girls. The damn company is ruining my bank account with their infernal catalogs.

and I'm with Julie - NO BRATZ.

Lena said...

I too am dreading the "crossover" to girly. But, you know, how are they ever going to learn to please a man while wide-eyed and large breasted without Barbie? LOL