I'm just going to go ahead and start this week with a disclaimer: this week's topic might piss you off. You might not agree with what I'm saying, but please read until the end. Through my jumbled prose, I'm trying to make a point. I hope you'll stick around (and around and around) to read it.
Okay, so as I was driving home from a lovely birthday party on Saturday night, Happy Bday Jules, I saw something that made me stop and think.(Well, okay, I was already stopped because the light was red). There were five ladies crossing a street in cocktail dresses. Not a one of them had on a coat and most of them looked like they were actually missing both the top and bottom halves of their dress. First, put on a damn coat. It's 20 degrees out.
Sidebar: I, too, have worn a tiny dress. Granted, that was what the kids refer to as "back in the day." Keep reading. I always wore a coat though. Don't these bars have coat checks anymore? Geez.
So these ladies in their "clothes" got me thinking about the Barbie epidemic. Uh-oh, here's where somebody might get pissed. Look, I played with Barbie. I had the Corvette. I had Ken in his white suit with purple flower in the lapel. I had Hawaiian Barbie, whose arms were straight so she could do the back stroke, I assume. I also had piles of clothes and shoes. One of these shoes led to the demise of my water bed...strong little suckers.
My Barbies are not the Barbies of today, however. Today's Barbies bare their mid-drift freely, cheer-lead in a skirt with a thong bloomer, and have pillow talk with Ken...I shit you not. Check out this little piece of 'splainin' you'll have to do should you venture into the Barbie aisle with a child who can read. "What's pillow talk, mom?" "I don't even have the energy to tell you right now." (This conversation actually took place between my friend and her son. This is real life, people.) Okay, granted Pillow Talk Barbie is a collectable. But does that make it okay? I understand that most people aren't buying a $54.00 Barbie for their child to play tea party with. But these Barbies are sitting there on the shelf beckoning your child to have that tantrum when you say no.
Which brings me to the princess epidemic. Again, don't get pissed, just keep reading. I wanted to buy my niece some fun dress-up items for Christmas. My sister is a doctor, so I thought, perfect, I'll get her a doctor set. When I looked in the dress-up sections of two major stores the only thing I could find was princess crap...and it was crap...very poorly made, etc. One doctor set I found was pink. Really? Why is this the only thing that little girls can dress-up as? Why if my daughter wants to play pretend does she have to be a princess? Why can't she be anything else? Finally, in the "educational" section of the store I found a doctor dress-up set. It was also with the boy stuff. Go %*&# yourself Toys-r-Us.
Here's the thing: I want Claire and Zora to be whatever they want to be. I love them and will support their dreams as much as I can. But judging by today's toy stores, the only thing they can be is a princess. To me, they are so much more. I want them to be strong, independent, intelligent, kind ladies. I'm not saying that they couldn't be all of these things and a princess, but I feel like with princesses comes fitting into some mold of what is beautiful. So here comes Barbie back in the mix. You cannot deny that she has a freakish body. If this is the standard by which my girls will be judging themselves, they will fail every time.
So let me share with you a little tale of body image and what it can do to a girl. For whatever reason, when I was young I started worrying about being fat. Blame whomever you like, Barbie, TV, no one, etc. I have even read my old diary entries from the age of 9 and I say things like, "I am so fat. If I could just lose weight I'd be so much happier." This breaks the 32 year old me's heart for the 9 year old me. Later, in high school, I developed a very nasty eating disorder or two. Ultimately, I battled both bulimia and anorexia for a decade. These diseases and my battle with body image took away a lot of my childhood I have come to realize. I wish I could go back in time and shake the 9 year old me(not hard, just a good jostle). Fat, skinny, whatever, I was a kid. I should've been enjoying every last second of it.
Now I see girls who look like they're dressing for their prom and they're headed to elementary school. Can't kids just be kids? Do they have to be princesses? Can't make-up be for fun play, not everyday wear for little girls? I'm going to steal back Claire and Zora's childhood before it's even close to being threatened. Oh, sure they'll get to have Barbies eventually and yes, they'll get to be princesses, but only when they can request these things. Until then, we'll talk about doctors(shout out Dr. Auntie), astronauts, rocket scientists(shout out Auntie Elizabeth), nurses(shout out Mimi), judges and teachers(shout out Kaki). Because, for my girls, seeing as how we're not royalty, the only way they can become a real princess is by marrying a prince. I want their goals and aspirations to involve things other than seeking men's hands in marriage...don't even get me started on boys...I'm not ready for that one by a long shot.
So 'round and 'round we went and here's my point: life is hard, childhood should be the simple part, devoid of unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations like looking like Barbie or actually becoming a princess. Of course, I guess I should include astronaut in there with the unrealistic expectations since NASA will be the stuff of history books by the time Claire and Zora are writing essays on what they want to be. (Tear, sniff)
TV, TV, right...well, it seems TV has crept back into our lives. I have decided that Claire may view less than one hour of TV a day so that I can have that time to feed this ravenous child of mine and get her to nap without loving sisters climbing all over us trying to "help." I don't know if this means I've lost this battle or that we've reached a compromise, but it's not over, not by a long shot. I plan to re-up my anti-TV crusade after the holidays. Hopefully then this baby will be eating from a bottle and giving me a break. Fingers crossed.
P.S. If you let your child have Barbies and dress up like a princess every day, that's great. I'm sure they love every second of it and it's fun for you, too. Understand that my views are based on my own experiences. As I said from the first post to this blog, I'm not a fan of judgey moms and I'm trying to not be one of them.