Growing up, my parents never bought my sisters and I Barbies. It seemed like all our friends had them so I assumed our Barbie-less house became that way because my parents didn’t have extra money to spend on “such nonsense.”
After visiting a friend from church one afternoon, I came home with a bag full of long-legged ladies. My friend had dozens of big busted Barbies and was happy to share her stash with my sisters and I.
My parents were disappointed I hadn’t asked permission first, but I made a pretty convincing case that playing with Barbies was no different than playing with our dolls.
Turns out I was wrong. Something changed in us when we switched from playing with our dolls to playing with Barbies. When we played with our dolls, we became their mother. When we played with Barbies, we became Barbie herself.
The role we assumed when we mothered our dolls was a nurturing and caring one. We “fed” our babies, diapered and dressed them, and rocked them to sleep. Subconsciously, we were practicing the skills we now use as mothers. We were learning to look out for the needs of others.
When we played with Barbies, we impersonated her character. We went shopping for high heels and mini skirts (let’s face it – most Barbies don’t come with a modest wardrobe!), sun-tanned on the beach, visited the salon, and prettied ourselves up for our hot date, Ken. The “ugly Barbie” (the one I gave a bad hair cut) was labeled “the mean girl,” and consequently, the butt of all our jokes. When we played with Barbie, we looked out for our own interests. We made way for #1.
Are Barbies a healthy toy for young girls to play with? Consider the following facts, taken from here:
- If Barbie were an actual woman, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, and a size 3 shoe.
- At 110 lbs, she has an anorexic BMI of 16, calls herself “full-figured,” and would likely not menstruate.
- If she was a real woman, Barbie would have to walk on all fours in order to support her unrealistic proportions.
- Over $1,000,000,000 of Barbie dolls and accessories were sold in 1993 alone, making Barbie one of the top 10 toys sold worldwide.
- Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight”. The directions inside stated simply, “Don’t eat.”
Is a Barbie ban in Christian homes recommended? That’s the call of each individual mother. Perhaps more advantageous than a Barbie who invites a girl to indulge in the interests of self, are toys designed to help a girl build biblical character and prepare her for real life. One of my favorite places to find such toys is Vision Forum. Their toys are geared towards equipping girls for womanhood and boys for manhood.
Only Hearts is a realistically proportioned, soft-body, Barbie alternative I recently discovered. The dolls look like young girls rather than grown women, and are generally equipped with clothes that are less glitzy and more modest. How the Philippians 2:4 dynamic plays out with these dolls compared to Barbie is something I can’t speak to from personal observation, but my guess is that because these dolls are created to engage in wholesome activities like farming and babysitting, they are a better choice than Barbie or Bratz.
Let us be mindful of the toys our daughters play with. The seeds we sow today we will reap tomorrow. And in our challenge to raise women of a meek and quiet spirit, who willingly give of themselves for the sake of others (1 Peter 3:4; Proverbs 31), let us be careful to choose toys that encourage our daughters to place the interests of others ahead of their own (Philippians 2:4).