Princess vs. Barbie
By MotherhoodMiscellany on January 23, 2014
We have lots of princess dolls at our house.
^^ Thank you to my Mother-in-law for that storage idea ^^
My girls ask for them as gifts. They save their allowances to buy them. They love their princess dolls.
Of course, they have lots of toys they enjoy, and they tend to go in cycles with them. Baby dolls, animals, building toys, etc.
Princesses are always in the rotation though, whether the big princess dolls or small ones or both. We've got lots of them.
In contrast, we have only one Barbie. She was given to my oldest daughter as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago.
The drastic difference in the number of princesses and Barbies on our house is deliberate. I don't buy Barbies for my girls. I don't take them in the Barbie aisle at the store. I'm just not a fan of Barbie.
I realize, those may be bordering on fightin' words for someone who grew up in the 80s. I have heard lots of women around my age defend Barbie. Because we played with Barbies as kids and some ladies still love her and are excited to share her with their daughters/nieces/etc.
True, I played with Barbies. I loved playing with Barbies. I am not, not, not trying to criticize anyone who loves playing Barbies with or buying Barbies for their kids. My girls play with them when we go to my in-law's or to their aunt's house, and I don't mind, of course. But. I still won't buy them. Why?
I can specifically remember as a little girl, playing with my Barbies and thinking they were so pretty. I walked around on my tiptoes (like her) and wished that I had blonde hair and blue eyes and a super skinny waist (like hers). I just don't want my girls to feel that way because of one of their toys. And maybe they wouldn't. Maybe I was just particularly insecure about my brown hair and green eyes and normal-sized waist for some reason at that time and they wouldn't be. But still...
I have some other beefs with B too. Like her clothes. My Barbies never came with clothes like these:
It is pretty hard to find a Barbie to purchase that is not dressed in a way that I find inappropriate for a little girl's toy. I know this, because I stood in the Barbie aisle at Target staring at the array of dolls for way too long one day when buying gifts for some families at our church, trying to find a doll I felt comfortable purchasing for a little girl who requested one. It's not impossible to find one, but not easy. Though recently I did come across this funny Homeschool Barbie.
In general, princesses just seem more innocent to me. Barbie is marketed as sexy much of the time. No thanks.
Of course, I do have a few issues with the Disney gals, mostly with the earlier princesses' tendencies to fall in "love at first sight" and in general be rather helpless (not characteristics I want my girls to cultivate). But the later stories, of Belle, Mulan, and Merida for example, feature heroines who aren't solely focused on finding true love (though they aren't opposed to it when they do).
And even the princesses who are a bit overly dependent on Prince Charming or lacking in gumption still have some good qualities that I can talk to my girls about. When my girls say, "I like Snow White because she's so pretty," I can respond with something like, "Oh, I like Snow White too, but do you know why I really like her? Because she is so kind and thoughtful." And if they say, "Cinderella is my favorite princess because she has a beautiful dress" I can say, "I like Cinderella too because she is a really hard worker."
I like that the princess dolls don't all look the same. They have different skin colors and different face shapes. I can even get into discussions with my girls about other cultures by talking about the stories of the princesses. I know some Barbies have different colored skin and hair, but they all seem to have the same face. Weird.
When my girls ask me who my favorite princess is, I say, "Belle, because she loves to read and she is very loyal and brave." Sometimes I mention that I also really like Merida "because she's also brave and strong and very protective of her family" or Anna "because she is a really good sister."
What does Barbie have besides her looks and her clothes? A pink car, a mansion, and a boyfriend named Ken.
I've come a long way in the past three years. I can tolerate princesses, and sometimes I actually enjoy them (Brave and Frozen are really good movies!). I can even find some good in my girls' love of princess stories and dolls. The princesses have decent clothes and some positive characteristics that I can discuss with my girls.
I won't say I'll never let my girls buy Barbies. But for now, the princesses win.
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