My kids have discovered Barbie. She lives on Netflix, where they can access her any time I allow them to turn the TV on. ‘I want Barbie!’ shouts the 5yo. ‘Barbie, Barbie’ squeals the 2yo.
It is full of nothing but outfits and hair dos and shopping and parties, crap romance and being bitchy. It is very pink, contains a fair bit of slapstick humour, which they find hilarious, and is very obviously not real.
This week the conversation went like this:
5yo [sighing] “I LOVE Ken.”
5yo: “He’s SUCH a superhero. He has a special Barbie sense so he knows anytime Barbie needs ANYTHING.”
My friends think it is hilarious that my kids love Barbie. Some are just laughing at me, some ask if I mind, some ask me why I let them watch it.
Do I mind? Nah, not really. Sometimes we talk about it afterwards and challenge it a bit, sometimes I don’t bother and they just watch it for a while. I think I was coming up to double figures before I willingly wore trousers rather than a skirt, and before I thought that maybe ‘princess’ wasn’t a viable career option. I used to make cardboard crowns and my favourite colours were gold and silver and I wanted anything that sparkled. I probably would have happily broken several laws to get my hands on the princess outfits that hang in every supermarket these days. If it was pretty and sparkly, I wanted it.
Do I think it’s bad if my child wants to dress herself in head to toe pink? Nah, not really. On the next day she might want to dress as batman. Or maybe she’ll wish to combine paisley with tartan like I did at her age.
I like my daughters to be able to think for themselves, and that includes being allowed to like pink, princesses, shiny things and barbies. I remember being heartbroken when I played with my barbie as a kid and I accidentally melted her hair with the hairdryer. They don’t need to challenge the status quo every step of the way, they’re allowed to just like some stuff too.
My job is to make sure that they know all the doors are open to them, including science, maths, climbing trees, being sporty, being allowed to speak without being interrupted and liking any colour toy they fancy. If my 5yo swoons over Ken and his Barbie sense for a while, she won’t get any criticism from me.