Taking a cue from Nancy over at nancynall.com, I bring you this story from my childhood.
When I was very young I wanted a Barbie doll. All my friends had them. My cousins had them. But, alas, these dolls were not allowed in my house, by edict of Mama Bird. I know now why she didn't want them around. But I still don't agree with the ban on them. When I was eight or so I took it upon myself to buy my own damned Barbie doll. The western/cowgirl Barbie (I think I was still harboring dreams of becoming a Dallas Coyboys Cheerleader. Remember, I was born in Dallas, I couldn't help it.). She came with the hat and boots and a tiny rubber stamp that was a kiss mark. I was so proud of myself for getting it myself (I used my Christmas money) and my grandmother had no problem with me buying it. Mama Bird made me return it the next day, unopened, unplayed with.
Mama Bird thought that I would develop an unhealthy body image if I had Barbies around, what with their enormous boobs and microscopic waistline. That I would think that was how I should look. That I would somehow become as acquisitive as the dolls "character" (C'mon, the bitch had everything).
Eventually Mama Bird cracked, and for valentines day when I was about nine or ten, I got my first ever Barbie doll. Pink 'n Pretty was the version. She came with both a dress and slinky pink pants. I was over the moon. More Barbies followed that one and I ended up with quite a collection. Because you can't just have one. She's got to have friends. And boyfriends too.
I never thought I would look like Barbie. In fact the ones that I thought the prettiest weren't because of their figures. There was a tropical something or other friend of Barbie's who's name was Miko or something like that. Her facial features were exotic. And a few years later there was a strawberry blonde with green eyes I thought was pretty. I wanted her hair. Not the body shape. I wanted to wear make-up, and be a rock-star. Or a clothing shop owner. Or a vet. Barbie had sooooo many jobs over the years.
Because I had a few of them, and it was my constant desire to make everything the way I wanted it to look, I drew heavier make up on them. I tried to crimp the hair of one of them (yes, I had a crimper) and melted it all away. When I got even older I turned them in to punk Barbies, drawing tattoos on them and cutting up their clothes.
I don't think Barbie is the best role model for little girls. But I don't think she's the worst either. I think that if parents take the time to show them how ridiculous she looks, kids will be just fine playing with Barbies. Dolls are for make-believe. Pure fluff. Not for reflecting reality. That being said, I think the Barbie computer games and "movies" are awful. They make no allowances for pure imagination. And they totally push the "I must have every thing Barbie I can find" attitude.
I am able to look at Barbie now and make fun of her. More for the consumerism aspect of her and her world. You could take virtually anything, paint it pink and write Barbie across it and it would sell like hot-cakes. That's the part I totally agree with Mama Bird about.
--Little Bird does most emphatically NOT look like Barbie (and is still quite content)