Barbies and Disney Princesses
Recently a discussion on dolls, Barbies, Disney Princesses, and more have been floating around amongst friends, bloggers, and has been a hot debate for as long as I can remember. Just today I came across a blog article written by an Austin Tx photographer where she photographed her 5 year old daughter dressed up as 5 different American female heroines, link to the entry if you are interested. The photos were beautiful, well appointed and I 100% get the argument behind doing them, I think it is a wonderful lesson. One that I too learned in 3rd grade, when I was able to truly understand the importance of who these women were to our American history and how without them we would not be where we are today.
However, I am having a very hard time seeing how letting a little girl play pretend with barbies or dressing up as a princess will ultimately hurt her in the long run. I think parents and adults generally worry too much about the future and not about the now. As a little girl I played for HOURS (ok lets get real, for YEARS) with my barbies. I most certainly do not look like Barbie, never had any plastic surgery done to achieve her perfect figure, I never had a desire to have blonde hair and blue eyes. Im also pretty sure I have yet to see a young teenage girl or an adult woman running around looking like Mulan, Pocahontas, Cinderella, or more.
When I played, I created elaborate homes made out of cabinets, tables, chairs, boxes (I did not have the barbie house) they had families, jobs, went on trips, woke up, went to sleep, I gave them haircuts (big mistake!) and more. I also played house with babydolls and was “pregnant”, I was a mommy, had an invisible husband, and much, much more. Yet not once while I played these games by myself or with friends did I ever look at Barbie and think “MAN, I WANT TO LOOK OR BE LIKE HER” she was just one of many vessels for imaginary play. Something I fear we are forgetting is EXTREMELY important for our littles one.. regardless if they are boys or girls and regardless of the vessel they use to play it out.
I get it. Barbie or Disney princesses are not realistic “role models” they have perfect bodies, they all want to find a prince and live happily ever after.. but at 2,3,4,5, or even 6 do you REALLY think our little ones care?! NO!! They want to play, explore, grow, they think simple, they go with their gut! Maybe she likes that Cinderella outfit because it is pink and pink is her favorite color, or the music in a specific movie makes her happy so she wants to be like that character, or the barbie she picked out had a pretty dress on, or brown hair just like her, or she is dressed like a doctor, just like her mommy or daddy. I am pretty sure that until I was around 7-10 years old my role model, the person I wanted to be most like was MY OWN MOM! SHE was who I strived to look like, act like, I wanted to be just like her, have pretty hair, wear her glasses, shoes, pocketbooks, be funny, do what she did, ate what she ate, and more.
I think somewhere along the lines we forgot how to just let our children be children and we worry too much about the what ifs. We should focus more on who WE are, what WE do, and the examples WE would like to be setting. Because WE are the apple of our childrens eye. My little girl even at 18mns does not take M.’s shoes out of the closet and attempt to wear them.. she takes MINE, she wants to eat MY food off the plate, She already puts a pocketbook on and puts her toys in it like I do. She gets it. she is like me, I am like her.. she already wants to be like her mommy. I hope that my child(ren) play with dolls, barbies, dress up as whatever they like. I also hope she is never too afraid to climb a tree, or dig in the dirt, or ride a bike, or so much more. I am pretty confident that her role models will eventually change and that she will one day not want to be just like her mommy… and at THAT point, as her first role model, I will plan to steer her in the right direction, show and teach her about all the AMAZING women who have changed our lives forever and to teach her she can be anyone she wants to be and at the same time never stop being a good role model myself. But for now, she is just a little girl, who likes little girl things and that is just where she should be.