Friday, September 25, 2009

Bye-bye Barbie?

I was a tomboy, but my best friend had lots of Barbies, so I grew up playing with Barbies, too. I got into it kind of late in childhood. I think I was 10 or 11 when I played with Barbies. I had a few, maybe 5 or 6. I wasn't into the clothes, so I don't think I had any fashion accessories. I vaguely remember a Barbie McDonalds that I had a lot of fun with. And Wonder Woman, she was cool! (What I mostly played on my own was swim team! I'd design dryland and water workouts, keep track of all my swimmer's best times, and create different winning relay combinations.)

My oldest daughter received her first Barbie when she was 3. Since then we've accumulated quite a collection of the dolls and vehicles and pets and furniture and clothes and shoes and purses and dishes and food, etc. Keeping track of all these Barbies and accessories is tiresome and the girls bicker often about which shoes belong to whom. This is annoying. It doesn't seem fair to make the older daughter (8) share her Barbie stuff with her younger sister (6) who is our destructive child. But more disconcerting than this, I don't like the way I hear my girls playing.

It started shortly after I allowed them to watch the movie High School Musical. It looked perfectly innocent to me. It was rated G. Some of the songs were cute and catchy. I had no idea there would be a sequel and a threequel and in general become "all the rage." What I wasn't prepared for was all the boyfriend talk that would come out of it. So, my husband and I made a rule that when they played Barbies, they could not play "boyfriend". We told them that Ken, or Troy, or whoever those boys are could be friends, brothers, or they could stage a wedding, but there would be no boyfriends. (If this seems strange to you it's because we do not intend to allow our children to date.)

They have done a good job of respecting this rule, but I find that I still don't like the way they play. It's very shallow. It's not real life, at least not our real life. It's all parties and fashion and coordinating shoes and purses with trendy mini skirts. There are no grandparents or families with kids of all ages. I just recently realized that Barbie is a slice out of 20-something singles life. This is a part of my life that I'm glad to be out of and grateful the Lord brought me through unscathed.

Also, since our girls have brothers, we did not want them leaving any undressed Barbies around, ever. This seemed like a do-able rule when we made it, but I've since realized that it's anything but realistic. We have a 3 year old. Enough said.

So, I've been thinking for awhile now that we need to get rid of the Barbies.

I have good girls and I didn't want this to be a punishment for them. I've been dropping hints for a few weeks, but dragging my feet on dropping the bomb. Then I had a great idea. Why not replace Barbies with something similar that will avoid the issues we've had. I've told you guys before that I'm a slow learner. I'm sure I'm the last mother on the face of the earth to figure this out. I decided we'd ditch the Barbies and replace them with miniature dolls. My girls could each get a dollhouse for Christmas and they could slowly build their doll and furniture collection from there.

I love that miniature dolls represent a more true slice of life. You can find whole familes with kids of different ages. There are grandparents. Their clothes stay on! I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner. The girls are so excited and they even found a dollhouse church complete with pews online. The Measle says she really wants the church, because she wants her dolls to be Christians and worship the Lord. Isn't that the sweetest? (Now I can't see Barbie's heart, but judging from her priorities, it's not looking too good for her, is it?)

I can't tell you how happy I am to be saying bye-bye to Barbie once and for all! And I'm ready to welcome play in our house that imitates our version of real life.


  1. My girls (10 and 8) play with Barbies but they mostly "play school" with them. You'd think that after they're in school all day they wouldn't want to play it, but they do! Or they'll have talent contests with the Barbies as the contestants. Did you know Target sells a series of dolls (a little smaller than Barbie) that appear to be girls (not teenagers/grown women)? The clothing is more modest too. I found a bunch on clearance I plan to save for Christmas gifts.

  2. we have a few barbies, although we'd outlawed them, the grandma bought the disney princess ones...and the hubby let the girls keep them...we like polly pockets better. bunches of little pieces though...bunches!

  3. I think it's definitely possible to play Barbies in a nice way, but I noticed my girls were not. Maybe it was partly due to their neighbor friend, or movies they've seen. I don't know, but instead of having to constantly police their Barbie play, I thought I'd try something different. I'll let you know how it turns out.

  4. I personally love Barbie - I love that she can be whatever she wants from a soccer coach to an astronaut! And she has the best clothes (much more modest, and stylish, than those awful Bratz dolls.)

    We have a collection of the Barbie 'Golden' books which portray her as a lovely, kind person. (In one book, she forgoes the chance to snare a top modelling job because she opts to look after her elderly neighbour instead.)

    We also collect the Barbie movies which also cast her as intelligent, caring, brave and sweet all at once.

    My girls also have Barbie's little sister Kelly, the little boy Tommy, the babies (both toddlers and newborns) as well as a few Ken dolls too. They re-enact the books, or even bible stories, with their Barbies although we do have our fair share of weddings too.

    I hope the doll house option works well for you. At least your daughters are excited about the changeover.

  5. First off, we did away with barbie two years ago. Same reasons. Secondly, High School Musical may have played a small roll. It is an "innocent movie" to most standards, but young kids crave, pick up on, and obsess when they see older kids acting, well, the way most older kids in America act. I am not putting down high school musical, only saying, we chose not to let our kids see it because, we figure they will be teens eventually, no sense letting them pick up the social behavior of teens now. :)Anyhow, its awesome they are so excited about this next move. I would do the dollhouse and doll families but my girl would not have really anyone to play with. She really likes the "Our Generation" dolls from Target. They are a really really really cheap version of the American Girl Dolls. They are only 20-30 dollars and totally modest dressed.
    P.S My kids are not dating either so rock on girl, I totally know what you are talking about. Did you read "I Kissed Dating Goodbye", by any chance?

  6. I do love the Barbie movies where she is an actress playing a role like Barbie in the Princess and the Pauper. I love this musical and know several of the songs by heart! I do not like the Barbie movies where she plays herself such as Barbie Diaries- again too much boyfriend stuff for me.

  7. Hello-
    I am so happy to hear that I am not a weirdo. We have never let our daughters play with Barbies for those reasons exactly. I am even beginning to question the disney princess stuff too. B/c you're right, its not real life. Since we plan on teaching our children about courtship, I am wondering if letting them think about "a perfect prince charming " is appropriate.
    Great post!

  8. Ah, how liberating!

    We've never let the barbies into our home despite external family pressures - of course!

    I remember playing very unwholesome games with my barbies as a girl - it was all about dating, and even pre-marital intimacy! ACK. We don't do dating either :).

  9. I haven't heard of any movies where Barbie plays herself - I wouldn't let my girls watch any with boyfriend plots. In these books and movies I am referring to Barbie only has boys as friends, or she marries the prince at the end.

  10. I just read this and laugh! We never did do the Barbie thing, b/c I believe God gave us your insight before my girls were born. We have always kept our eyes open for good alternatives, and my girls have always been just fine with it, I'm sure yours will too! I think you are doing a very good thing, and I am sure the Lord will bless your efforts. Target sells Only Hearts dolls that are Barbie size, but clothes are sewn on (they are fabric) and no bust! =) Now THAT's more true to life!!

  11. You have darling children :O) I think that one of the biggest problems is the available clothing for barbie dolls. If your girls had more things like "nurse barbie" or "baker barbie" or "veterinarian barbie", you might have less high school musical scenes going on. You CAN find some modest outfits by sellers who home make them on places like

    Otherwise, the dollhouse is a great idea! My daughter is still little so I am asking for Calico Critters sets for her this Christmas instead of other light up toys and whatnot. I had a huge set when I was little and I am so sad that my mom got rid of it. If I had known to stop her back then (not that she told me about it) I would have stopped her! They are expensive!



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