Barbie: Yes Or No?

Posted: September 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Motherhood carries a lot of pressure. I want to raise my children to respect and love others; to reflect kindness and goodness; to believe in themselves and go after their dreams; and many, many, many more things. I want my children to live a full life and know their love and worth. As a woman who previously battled eating struggles and a very poor self-image, I feel especially in tune to how I raise Makenzie. I would do anything I could to have her not doubt her worth and beauty as a person. I would give up everything to have her keep a healthy relationship with her body and food. I have extra sensitivity to all those things so, with good reason, I thought would shelter my little M as much as possible.

Some recent discussion has popped up on some of my favorite blogs recently about the affects things like calling little girls “cute and pretty” as a main form of compliment and the effects of all things Barbie and Princess. Back in the day, I would have said “screw all things pink” and scoffed at perpetuating the stereotypes.


makenzie tutu-1

I somehow ended up with the girliest of girly girls to ever exist.

When I picked Makenzie up from preschool today she promptly informed me that she wants a Belle party for her birthday.

Say what now?! Are all rising three year olds this decisive on their party themes? Girlfriend loves herself some princess action.

She also suddenly loves Barbie.


Peter brought this life-sized Barbie creature home for Makenzie. It was a "gift” from someone he works with who decided to let M have it instead of donating it. I was just about to tell Peter to stash the thing away for us to donate…until Makenzie came downstairs from her nap and her eyes lit up like she had won the biggest jackpot to ever exist.

She squeals with delight should we find any sort of Disney Princess, Barbie, Pinkilicious, My Little Pony, or Fancy Nancy book when we visit the library. She begs to watch Belle or Ariel. She wants to be “A princess! A princess! A princess!” for Halloween. I cannot peel the girl out of a tutu when we’re at home. She fights me asking her to wear pants because she wants to wear her purple polka-dotted dress so she can wear a purple bow. She gets excited when I bring home new clothes for her and immediately wants to try them all on because they are “so pretty!”.

makenzie shopping 2

And you know what? Instead of saying “screw pink” (or purple for that matter), I am going to say “screw preconceived notions” and let my little girl be a little girl just how she likes.

That won’t stop me from complimenting her on her kindness, intelligence, sense of humor, and cheerful attitude above all else. That won’t stop me from considering how I talk to and look at myself because I know she pays critical attention. That won’t stop me from telling her she is beautiful, just as everyone is, because God crafter her with a plan.

Instead of worrying about what messages her toys send to her, I will focus on the messages I send to her as her because I’m there as her mother. And trust that the messages from her mom will trump Barbie’s freakishly inhuman waist line. Seriously, though…Barbie is frickin’ creepy!

  • What are your thoughts on little girls getting all into princesses, Barbies, and other such toys? You certainly don’t have to agree with me!
  • What things impacted your self image the most when growing up?

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75 Comments to “Barbie: Yes Or No?”
  1. Therese says:

    I played with Barbies as well and I don’t think they were a source of distorted body image for me. I just loved making up stories for them! Then again, I never had a my-size Barbie, either…

  2. Mellissa says:

    I played with dolls, legos, trucks and I really believe let kids stretch their imaginations as much as they can. It is so important that the create and play.

  3. AmandaCG says:

    The Barbie/princess thing had nothing to do with any of my emotional issues. My parents had everything to do with it. The emphasis on outer beauty, the time my mother encouraged me to work as a stripper to get myself through college, the lack of love from my father. In Jr High, I became best friends with a girl that everyone said looked like Barbie and that began comparison war in my head. You have chosen to do the right thing in just letting her be who she is and encouraging that. If you didn’t she would question herself. Most girls like pretty sparkly pink things, I know I still do! The important thing is that she knows special she is, how smart she is, how beautiful she is because GOD made her that way because every good thing comes from Him. That you adore her and cherish her. If she has that then no magazine or Barbie princess will be able to convince her otherwise.

    • Tina says:

      Wow, Amanda. I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of that. And I thank you for your encouragement in my decisions. 🙂

  4. Oh Tina, how I love your blog so.

    You know I have two little girls at home. 4 and 2. Both play with Barbie, My Little Pony, and they recently scored crowns and Cinderella and Belle dress up clothes. Hannah’s big compliment to me for a while now? “Mommy, you’re so beautiful.” Every now and again, she says “pretty”.

    My thoughts: I won’t buy the Bratz dolls when that comes up. Sorry, no can do. THOSE dolls are bit too…sleazy. There are a couple of other ones that bother me, but I’m the one that chooses the toys to enter the house. (Granted, so does Herrick. Know what that means? Dress up clothes and MatchBox cars. LOL)

    Anyways, I grew up with Barbie, as I’m sure you did, too. Not once did BARBIE make me question my worth, and she certainly wasn’t my role model. Barbie is a toy, and girls grow up knowing that. (Well, except a friend of my mom…she used to scratch Barbie’s boobs along the sidewalk until she was flat chested. LOL)

    Keep letting her play Princess and Barbie, Tina. When I was growing up (my blog post from yesterday actually touched on this), it wasn’t bullying, it was ME that made me question my worth. (And my lack of relationship with my Dad.) It was also the ideal…all the girls saying “I wanna weigh this much” or “I’m a size xx? God I need to lose weight!” Stuff like that. That’s what made me question. It’s society’s ideal. But…I certainly didn’t have a parent to show me what healthy means or work on self image with me. Mom was too busy making Dad happy or working or crying over how unhappy she was.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Tina. You’re an incredible mother.

  5. Kace says:

    Just found your blog through someone else. I think you’re def. on the right track! Let her choose what she likes, but as you said, you know it’s on YOU to tell her how everybody is beautiful in their own way, and how smart and nice she is. I hate when parents blame outside sources for any sort of emotional problem – whether it’s barbies making the child feel fat or marilyn manson causing Columbine. Bottom line – those things are out there, and it’s up to mommy and daddy to explain the faults in them!

    Sorry probably just way overstepped my bounds as I’m completely new here but I work with kids…so I work with parents, too! And I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe. haha.

    She’s getting to American Girl age, those are a great learning toy!

    • Tina says:

      Not overstepping bounds by any means. You will quickly learn I feel free to push limits in topics too. It’s how we spark good discussion. Thanks for commenting! Can’t wait to check out your blog. 🙂

  6. […] we build here. You all have provided some rocking discussion in my last two posts – “Barbie: Yes or No” and my post on developing a blog’s readership – and I love reading it all. So, […]

  7. Colleen says:

    I’ve always been a girly-girl and loved Barbies and American Girl Dolls growing up. My sister and I also had “Bible Barbies” that we loved to play with–I had Ruth and she had Esther! 🙂

  8. ERin says:

    My youngest LOVES everything princess – as in she needs to wear a dress every day (and I “trick” her into wearing longer tops – mother of the year and all). However, one minute she’ll be playing princess and the next she’s playing Power Rangers with her brother (don’t even ask – that show is TERRIBLE and I don’t know how it started in our house). I think as long as they are exposed to healthy ideas and the concept that we love people for who they are, not how they look, then we’re doing right by our kids.

  9. Emilie says:

    I was not allowed to have Barbie when I was a kid… my parents never bought me one. But somehow I found out about her and was OBSESSED. My mom could not understand how this happened, but decided that since I independantly loved barbie that I could keep the ones I got as gifts. I didn’t like Barbie because she was pretty, it was just fun to dress her up, play make believe, etc.
    My younger sister had access to my barbies and couldn’t have cared less about them. Its a personality thing, and I don’t see the harm in letting children play with a variety of toys.

  10. Amanda says:

    I think you’re making the right choice. Growing up I was a tom boy who loved barbies, but refused to wear anything other than pants and shorts. Now I love buying skirts and dresses. My sister refused to wear pants as a kid and loved baby dolls and now has to be going to a wedding before she’ll touch a dress. Tell your daughter she is beautiful, inside and out, smart and kind. In the end, what you say and do will far outweigh the toys she plays with.

  11. […] Discussions (Am I Ready To Be A Mommy and Barbie: Yes or No? […]

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