Doing a first of a style of blog post that will probably come from me more often than David! This will probably–definitely–be more of emotional gushing versus anything structured like a review. I have a lot of feelings about toys for kids and how it can effect them based on how I reacted to toys as a kid or things that I would have loved to have when I was younger. I can’t promise the best sense or grammar here because this is just excited rambling! Which is what I’m really good at.
And today I’m going to gush about something that has always been very close to my heart–Barbie! There’s always a lot of opinion and controversy around Barbie about if she’s a good role model for little girls and how she’s an unrealistic standard. As someone who grew up playing with Barbies and has now grown into a collector, I have my own opinions about our pink princess so here we go!
When I was a wee little girl, I loved dresses and pink and so forth. By the time I was around 7 or 8, I hit a wall of ‘nope I hate everything that’s girly! Pink is the worst and I will scream if you put skirts near me!!’ but some how, Barbie survived my hatred of pink and girly. And this was the 90s when Barbie was still mostly pink. I had to tell everyone to buy me Tersea, Christie and Disney Princesses to get away from the layers of pink. There was a level of creativity that came with Barbie that I loved. Yeah, I had Ice Skating Barbie and Dentist Barbie and a Barbie that was about buying groceries. Not kidding, she came with a shopping cart and a bunch of food.
But what I really had were blank canvases. Barbie represented opportunity. Where action fictions had to stay what they were, Barbie could always change who she was and existed to be whatever I wanted her to be. Where my Star Wars toys always had to be Star Wars toys, Barbie didn’t have to stay a mom or a dentist! I could change her outfit and make her join my Star Wars toys! I was very famous of stealing my brothers toys so Barbie could use them. My girl had a pink convertible and could ride into battle on He-Man’s Battle Cat. She could be a princess, she could be a warrior, she could go shopping or go fight a dragon. It’s what made me love her.
As a kid, I knew I didn’t like how she was always blonde and always had high heels but it didn’t make me think I had to wear high heels or be blonde…it made me color her with markers and try to find all the sneakers for her. When my best friend who was black, I would make sure my mom bought me Christies because Barbie’s best friend needed to match my best friend! I asked for Tersea’s because she came with brown hair like I had. Also again, no pink. Christie was always purple and Tersea was always blue. I knew options were limited and I remember being frustrated by it but I tried to change what I had to make it what I want.
Okay, now back to where we are now! Outside of my collection of unopened Barbies, I’d lost interest in our pink princess to pay more attention to stuff like Monster High. I’ll save my Monster High talk for later cause oh boy, I love me those monster gals. Even if I don’t buy the brands, I still like walking through toy aisles in stores to just see what’s going on and what’s there. Barbie was always good about having a variety of jobs that she fit but for the most part, she was still jut a skinny blonde white girl that sometimes was black, hispanic or asian.
The first thing that brought me back to Barbie’s side was Barbie Life In The Dreamhouse! I won’t talk about it a lot cause this is supposed to be about the Fashionista line but dudes, this silly cartoon is so god damn good! It’s really smart, clever and just really Meta about the Barbie brand. It’s so great, it made Barbie smart and witty and poked fun at her history! I love it so much. Also the doll line that went along side the show was fully posable and if you wanna win me over…give me the ability to pose things. But enough about that–Barbie had my attention again for the first time in years outside of her more upscale and expensive collections. And then, they announced all the new changes for the Fashionista lines.
For the first time, there was going to be flat feet for Barbie! No heels! The first wave was new faces and skin colors! This was exciting! I could get 3 black dolls and they didn’t look the same! They each had unique faces and skin tones! Christie had never been too dark but now there were girls that were very dark next to girls that were closer to midtones. There was a doll that was very clearly biracial. There were girls with brightly dyed hair colors, shaved sides, different hair textures! And then they announced the new wave with the Tall, Petite and Curvy body types! Oh man, I love it so much! They’ve been hearing the criticisms of their brand over the years and they’re fixing it! They’ve still got a long way to go but seeing them take these steps forward really warms my heart. There’s girls out there that have more options available to them now! They can have a doll that looks like them and is shaped like them that can now exist in these varieties of of stories for them to create! They can exist in their own fantasy worlds anymore, they don’t have to tell stories using a stranger. They can tell stories and play with girls that look like them and their families. They have new styles and fashions that might make a little girl feel valid about how she feels about herself.
I was a tomboy that still loved girly stuff but there was really only Sailor Jupiter that made me feel like I wasn’t doing something wrong. I have a Fashionista doll behind me that is tall, boyish but came with high heels and sparkly dresses. 12 year old me would have killed for a doll like her. 12 year old me would have killed for all the Fashionista dolls I have on my shelf behind me. For these outfits, these flat shoes, these girls that look my friends. Barbie will always be a blank canvas style of a toy but now she’s a blank canvas that can exist for a variety of young girls. Especially those young girls that exist in a world where being different isn’t always seen as pretty or worthy of being able to tell their own stories. It just really warms my heart and every time I see a new variety in these dolls, I just think about all those little girls out there that get to see a face that looks like theirs. I’m really proud of you Mattel. You’re moving in the right direction and just keep going! I can’t wait to see where the future lies for our girl.
Now just do something about Ken, Mattel. That boy is so bland. Give him some different heights and weights! Also new clothes, please give that boy new clothes