Mom vs. Barbieby Blythe Newsome
My daughter Elspeth got some Barbie dolls for her birthday recently, and everywhere we go, she brings her Barbies. Elspeth happily told me, "Mommy, you are not like Barbie." I made the mistake of asking her why.
I'm No Princess
First, she informed me that I am not a princess like Barbie. I will accept the princess thing. I am not a princess, but if I was, I would be the Princess of Laundry Land. All the people who live in Laundry Land would stop by and throw their clothes at me. And, like magic, when I tossed their clothes back to them, the clothes would be magically clean and fresh, except for the items that were left in the kingdom's washer overnight and smell a bit musty. Barbie, on the other hand, must be a princess. Her mansion, townhouse and beachhouse are located in our playroom, and amazingly enough (given all the clothes she has), neither house has a laundry room.
I don't have a sweet set of wheels like Barbie. She has a bus, a convertible and a VW Beetle. I want to see Barbie with a mini-van that has toys falling out whenever a door is opened. I want to see her expression when she sees how much it costs to fill it up with enough gas to taxi the children everywhere. I bet that Barbie would suddenly get a few worry lines around her mouth.
And then there is the most obvious difference that Elspeth pointed out: I don't look like Barbie. I don't have pretty yellow hair like Barbie. "Mommy, you have flat brown hair," Elspeth says. She has a Midge doll that is pregnant (she came that way; it didn't happen in my house). When Midge has the baby, her belly simply slips off her body and she is thin again. No stretch marks are on her stomach; her legs are tan and beautiful and not marked by varicose veins; her breasts haven't changed a bit. Elspeth was kind enough to show me that Midge's stomach is hard while mine is squishy. "Want to feel?" she asked me, not knowing that deep down, I am not liking that Barbie for her flat, plastic stomach.
If my daughter wants to dream that she can be a princess, have a house without a laundry room, drive different vehicles without any payments and always walk around with a perfect tan and a smile on her face, that is OK. That is why we call it a dream.
Do the dreams we have with Barbie as little girls damage us as adults? Probably not. After all, I played with Barbies as a little girl, and as I grew up, I learned that I wasn't a princess, Ken wouldn't always be there and that even without a flat stomach, I could still be happy -- really happy.