Do Your Daughters Play With Barbie Dolls?

Last week I threw out some of my daughter’s Barbie dolls.

To be clear, I was selective about which dolls took a trip to the big recycling plant in the sky.

Barbies that looked (I’ll let you insert your own appropriate adjective, “slutty” is what comes to mind for me.) like Exhibit A (see below) did not make the cut. And to be honest, I’m sort of embarrassed that dolls like this had spent as much time in our household as they did:

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On the other hand, flat-chested, appropriately dressed dolls like Exhibit B (see below) will happily remain under our roof:

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We had received Exhibit A as a gift awhile back, along with a pink remote control convertible Corvette (Which is awesome and we are totally keeping.). I’m not sure if it was my older daughter’s (she had just turned 3 at the time) initial disinterest or my general apathy toward the topic that kept me from tossing it from the beginning.

Raising daughters (and I’m sure raising sons presents its own set of difficulties, I just don’t happen to have any yet) in a world filled with unrealistic beauty standards is a complex challenge. And to be honest, it’s not a topic I obsess about or hyper-analyze over. But from time to time, I’m left wondering if I should be more diligent in protecting what media, toys, and the like, that my daughters consume.

I know inevitably they will be exposed to a slew of images, topics and scenarios that I can’t protect them from. But what about now, while they’re young and I still have a large say in what they’re exposed to?

I’m dying to know where other moms stand on this topic. Where do you draw the line? Do you police what your daughters (or sons) play with in the hopes of protecting them for unnecessary pressure or inappropriate images? Or am I crazy? I’d love to hear how other moms handle this topic.

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About heather

Heather Terveen is a freelance writer and mom to three darling daughters. She's a Southern California transplant that has fallen in love with the Valley. Heather’s a contributing writer for SheKnows.com covering home, lifestyle and parenting topics. You can follow her adventures in home renovation, decorating and motherhood at her lifestyle blog my peanut butter cups or drop her a line on Twitter or Facebook.

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8 Responses to Do Your Daughters Play With Barbie Dolls?

  1. Kara January 28, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    I think this is an interesting topic. Because now being a mother I see it from your eyes, where I want to shield my daughter from basically growing up too fast. But then I think about when I was a little girl. I think Barbie’s dimensions were the same although I’m sure her outfit has changed a lot. I honestly do not remember thinking that I wanted to look like Barbie…..I didn’t think about her as being anything other than a toy to play with. We have to be careful and not unknowingly put our thoughts about the situation into our daughters heads. How did you explain that the slutty barbie was gone? I wonder if your, or my daughter would even recognize the 2 dolls differences.

  2. Angela January 28, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    I refuse to let my children have Bratz (horrible name plus spelled wrong?!?) dolls. The idea of letting my children have anything with the name bratz just doesn’t sit well with me. But let me tell you what they always ask for, Bratz dolls! So I know that by not allowing them, I have increased the appeal.

  3. becca h January 28, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    My daughter just turned 6 and is really starting to enjoy playing with Barbies. I personally don’t have a problem with my daughter playing with them, but I also don’t think she is looking at her and lusting over her skinny waist or large chest right now. A time may come when I see or hear comments and decide differently, but that’s not the case at the moment.

    I also feel like I will have much larger and more important battles to fight with her in the future so I want to be careful in choosing what is most important to me. I feel like television is a much larger influence in our home so I have become much more protective of the things that my children watch because of behavior that I’ve seen played out. As I watch her play, if I notice things of concern then I will address them.

    I think that we, as mothers that dearly love our children and want to do best for them, oftentimes, over think things and might possibly place a much greater importance on something we notice than on anything they would have thought of. However, I totally respect moms that don’t let their kids play with them and think it’s up to each mom to decide what’s best for their kiddos. But I’m very glad that I have friends that think pretty similarly to me so we don’t have to wage the “but she has that at her house” war!

    Great topic and I can’t wait to see the discussion!
    Becca

  4. Angela Squires January 28, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    I debate over Barbies, too, even though there is a part of me that wants to think my daughters’ self-esteem and self-image won’t be influenced by the shape of a plastic toy. I think my bigger concern with Barbies is their clothing. My daughters each received a very immodestly dressed Barbie and several extra immodest Barbie dresses from a relative for Christmas this year; and I’m just not sure I want to risk them learning to view such skimpy clothing as acceptable and normal. I’ve tried to ignore the moral dilemma to some degree because my daughters so enjoy their Barbies that I have a hard time wanting to throw away parts of their collection… even though that would probably be the “right” thing to do. Perhaps my husband and I will have a serious talk about it…. And so continues the journey of tough parenting decisions….

  5. Emily F January 28, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    I too get rid of a lot of the clothing that comes with traditional Barbies.

    What I do is buy handmade modest clothing from Etsy! Eventually I want to try and make my own, but for now, supporting a small business owner and letting my girls play with some really beautiful doll clothing is a win-win for me. If the Barbie itself has on too much makeup, I will toss it, but usually it IS the clothing that makes Barbie look so trashy. Here is an example of something I would buy for my girls’ dolls: http://www.etsy.com/listing/98353326/handmade-barbie-clothes-white-checked?ref=sr_gallery_18&ga_search_query=barbie+clothes&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_ref=auto1&ga_search_type=handmade.

    Though I do think this is something we will keep evaluating as they grow! Great topic!

  6. michelle February 25, 2013 at 11:28 am #

    i wont let my daughter play with barbie and im also teaching her that gender colours
    are not necassary, its the whole culture that comes with barbie.

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  8. Freddie August 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    If you from the very begining and consistently remind her that Barbie is only fantasy and not reality, it will keep her from having problems in the future. Adults harp on body image of themselves or others which the child hears. It internalizes those comments and judges themselves based upon them. The real images of human have a greater impact for the most part. Though some exceptions exist, the problem is that the parents are to be the example that they look up to for their role models. Barbies let me see that judging on outward appearance was incorrect behavior.

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