My daughter approached me with Barbie’s plastic head in one hand and her torso in the other.
“Mommy, can you fix her?”
Growing up, I’d learned to snap the head back on. It didn’t appear that my daughter’s Barbie would fare so well. The rim of the neck had cracked apart, rendering the swivel useless. Short of a neck brace, or miracle glue, Barbie would remain headless.
I felt a little relieved. It’s not that I relished the doll’s demise, but I had received Barbie into the household with reservations. I didn’t want to be silly or legalistic, but I worried each time Barbie smiled up at me from the carpeted floor. Would this toy leave my daughters with wrong impressions of femininity and body image? Or was I hyper-reacting?
Growing up, my own relationship with Barbie had been complicated.
I received Barbie for Christmas along with a starter wardrobe of practical daywear, elegant evening gowns, and the proper assortment of flats and heels. It was the late-seventies, and I had no idea that second wave feminists were questioning why Barbie’s super-sized head was as big as her ribcage and over-endowed chest. Her lovely wardrobe enchanted me although I quickly decided it was more interesting to build her a house with scraps from my father’s construction sites than to choose her couture. … Continue Reading