In case you hadn’t heard the hype (if not, how?!) Mattel has launched a new Fashionista line of Barbie dolls with a whole new host of skin colours, eye colours and body types. The reaction to this has been mixed to say the least, but my question is – is it really as big a deal as everyone is making out?
NPR’s roundup post on Barbie’s diversity makeover makes me a little bit angry, it has to be said. I honestly believe that we’re putting far too much stock in what children do or do not see in their toys. I’m probably not the best person to comment as I have no children of my own and no intention of creating any, but I do remember my own childhood and I didn’t care what my toys looked like if I enjoyed playing with them.
Ever since I told my mum I had no intention of having kids there is a favourite story she likes to tell about my childhood. Like most little girls I played with dolls, but my favourite doll was named Sally. She was a baby doll not a Barbie. She had blonde hair and blue eyes and came everywhere with me (if I was allowed to take her), but rather than caring for Sally as I saw my mum care for my little sister I carried Sally around by her hair. She joined in all my games, played on the slide with me, dug up worms in the garden and fought off the teenage mutant ninja turtles. But never once did my mum tell me (that I can remember) that I was playing with Sally wrong, that I was holding her wrong.
My point is this; I was allowed to play with my toys and discover my own fun and happiness. By giving little girls and boys toys that only look like them, are we not promoting segregation and teaching children that they have to find something of themselves in a toy to like it? A child who plays with dolls isn’t old enough to know or realise that there may not be a doll that looks like them, please don’t teach them adult prejudices so young.