BARBIE: OUR UNLIKELY HERO

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa


We all have a few memories from our childhoods that stand out as being more memorable than the rest. For me there are many, but one I always go back to, especially now that I have two daughters of my own is a memory of one of my sisters birthdays. I am not which one. My parents were also very diplomatic at birthdays. They didn’t waste their time explaining that getting a birthday was reserved for the child whose birthday it actually was. We all got gifts. The birthday girl got a big lavish gift, and the other two got lesser, but equally delightful gifts. On this particular birthday, I got everything I ever wanted and it wasn’t even my birthday. I got a Barbie. A real Barbie.


I will never forget opening the pink box and delicately taking this coveted doll from her packaging. I remember pressing her hair to my little face and inhaling so deeply. She smelled amazing. A fruity, exciting smell. I was in love.

I played with my Barbies long into my teen years. I know that is a little odd perhaps, but these dolls and their clothes, and their little accessories gave me a world to escape into. A world filled with innocence and possibility. And now that I have daughters of my own, I find myself once again being drawn into the world of magic and wonder and possibility.



In recent years, Barbie has become somewhat of a pariah though. Her physical appearance has been touted as reinforcing the impossible beauty standard imposed on young girls and while I struggled to disagree, I also see more diversity in Barbie that I ever have before. Sometimes I sit and watch Sophie play with her Barbies, getting sucked into elaborate stories of Barbies life and it reminds me that while we as adults may frown at this little doll, to girls everywhere, she is a symbol of everything that they can one day be.


Barbie is accomplished

She is so successful, has there ever been a doll who was both pastry chef and astronaut? Who could straddle both life as a fashion editor and an Olympics gold medallist? I think not. By allowing my girls to explore the wonderful world of Barbie, I am allowing them to explore a world where they could be anything they chose. And there is so much power in possibility.

A true friend 

One of Sophie’s favourite Barbie movies – and let me tell you, we them ALL – is Barbie and the Diamond Castle. It is a story about two friends who grow up with very little and through a slightly bizarre turn of events, end up embarking on a quest to save the world from an evil queen. But what this movie is really about is the power of friendship, and how there is no treasure truer than a real friend. Every time we watch this movie, Sophie ends off by listing all her friends and how far she would go to help and love and protect them. That is a lesson I can thank Barbie for.

Barbie is unapologetically living her best life

She has her dream job, her dream house, her dream car and her dream guy. She is kind, hardworking and a great friend. She claims these things without explanation or apology. Fictional though she may be, she represents the very real aspirations of many, many grown women. To live a life that is laced with happiness and success.

Endless teachable moments 

Playing with Sophie and her Barbie provides me with endless teachable moments. The one aim I have in my life is to raise my girls with the knowledge that being a real women is as simple as being the most authentic version of yourself. While we may sit and play a pretend game of Ken and Barbie going on a picnic, I am always there to remind her of how to take these moments of play and turn them into the lessons that will frame the person she one day becomes. The fearless feminist who breaks barriers and challenges stereotypes who shows her peers, her sister and herself just how limitless their potential really is.

Barbie is an unlikely hero in my house.
She is there floating in the bath with Sophie, she is squashed under the couch pillows, she is rammed into the toy box with mismatched shoes and khoki pen stains tracked down her face.

She is everywhere and her presence will always remind me of one thing: The unshakable power of possibility.

Nikki
Xxx

1 comment

  1. GIRL, I love Barbie. I was still dressing up and displaying my Barbies for ages after it was 'cool'. I wish I could still afford them. I also remember playing the Barbie game on their website where you could create your own Barbie, and I could make one that looked just like me. I loved it so much.

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