Barbie’s got tattoos – now everything’s ok?

I mean, seriously. We are going to commend Mattel for coming out with a new Barbie that still wears a size 0 and sports a  size D bust but now has some – whoa, hold your britches – tattoos and funky pink hair?! The writer in Barbie Gets a Tattoo Makeover certainly thinks it is better than the barbie fashionista blond, blue-eyed model but I think she loses sight of the forest among the trees. 

Maria receiving a christmas barbie in 2010

Little girls get these barbies when they are in the prime of development.  Barbie’s size 0 body and D chest provide an ideal for these girls helping to lead to all sorts of body image issues, eating disorders, low self-esteem.  I am not saying that Barbie is the only toy out there creating this image for young girls – we can look anywhere from magazines to princesses to billboards to rock stars – and find that ideal shining through.  I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to provide girls (and boys) with “barbies” that look like us?  How about the sporty mother of two running from her 9-5 job to get her kids off to 5:30 gymnastics class?  Or the mom lawyer dressed in her corporate attire and briefcase heading off to a speech about helping others in need? Or the stay-at-home mom with her sweats and t-shirt and art pallette teaching her kids how to paint?  So many “real” world mom examples to choose from yet we choose to maintain our size 0 barbie and simply doll her up with some tattoos and pink hair?  Really? 

When I was little I had one “barbie.”  It was technically not a barbie but a “Dusty” doll.  She had a plain, bob-cut hair style (sandy brown hair), no breasts, thick muscular legs and shoulders, a cowboy hat, a pair of riding pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and she rode a horse.  She didn’t need to be a size 0 and have big breasts to have a good time.  She had a genuine smile on her face and her lips were your typical pale red lips.  She rode her horse, played soccer, ate pies, kicked around on the farm and had a blast while her friend Barbie smiled with her bright pink manicured lips, went to her 8 hour modeling shot, and talked about her newest clothes.  No wonder I grew up wearing sweats and playing sports and hating the thought of shopping at a mall. 

Mario and his toy cowboy gun

I have to admit that I have bought barbies for Maria (however, they are always the ones that are in some type of profession like a vet, doctor or teacher) and she has gotten many of them as gifts.  I could forbid them but I feel that outlawing them may just make it worse.  It’s similar with Mario’s toy guns – I could forbid them in the house but he will find them at his friend’s house and we will long for them more.  Maybe that is just an excuse I come up with because I don’t want to fight the battle?  Maybe… but I don’t think so.  I think that they are bound to pick these things up and bound to get these from friends and relatives.  They are ubiquitous toys.  And why not be the one that sees them with the toys and educates them on the good and the bad about them?  I would rather do that then have Mario silently trying out a gun in his friend’s basement without knowing its consequences and hurting someone or Maria idealizing her friends’ barbies when she is at their houses and inflating Barbie’s image even more than if she owned one herself.   

I take every chance I get to temper these “hot button” toys by explaining to Mario the harm that guns can do to people and explaining to Maria that being a size 0 and D cup is not the ideal to pursue in life, and I think they get it.  Mario knows guns can kill people and he routinely informs Jon and I that guns should only be used to kill turkeys (Jon and Peepaw’s turkey hunting days).  Maria knows that life is not just about being “pretty” but rather is about having fun with your friends, making people laugh, being smart, and being nice (although there are the days that I catch her in my heels standing in front of the mirror putting on lipstick). 

I think we should just bring back the Dusty doll and get girls idealizing a more realistic doll and one that knows how to dig her heels in and have a good time.  Besides, she certainly never would have dreamt of a boyfriend over her horse!

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