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Barbie, Princesses etc - harmless or perpetuating female stereotypes?

(78 Posts)
WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Mon 11-Dec-06 21:57:51

Luckily I have not got to this stage yet with dd1.

However, round someone else's house the other day, the children were watching a Barbie film (12 Dancing Princesses as I remember). It was just so ludicrously sexist - at one stage the "mother" said to the girls "You are no better than a common maid".

Am I over-reacting or should I try to resist the onslaught of negative role models for my dds?

Spicedfennelwine Thu 14-Dec-06 10:54:23

actually, fortyplus, I think you'll find that "Action sindy" had bendy limbs, and "Ballet sindy" had joints.

[slinks back to lofty feminist anti-barbie stance]

but actiongirl sounds good, I wonder if she still exists.

fortyplus Thu 14-Dec-06 00:20:14

HoHoHorsewoman - surely you had Sindy's horse? I had an 'Action Girl' to ride mine - she had proper jointed limbs so she could sit properly on the horse - unlike sill Sindy whose knees didn't bend! And Action Girl had prper riding kit with jods, boots, jacket and a flocked black cap - nearly just like real velvet!

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Wed 13-Dec-06 22:26:54

Well, having reflected on the issue at length, I bought some 'princess' items today, as requested of "Father Christmas".

It seems fairly harmless - the pink paraphernalia is less influential than the horribly sexist fairytales and films anyway.

As someone said, we all like pretty things. I'll allow her a life of her own and take the innocence of youth for what it is - and let her play her little girlie games!

Now Bratz - that is a different story.

singsalot Wed 13-Dec-06 01:02:35

your dd might not be interested in Barbie? but re the "the onslaught of negative role models for my dds" - there was a tiny wee article in the paper saying "ads blamed for childhood stress"

"uk children see an average of 20,000 - 40,000 t.v adverts a year."

"child oriented market is worth £30bn annually in the uk" I would do a link(if I knew how) it makes good points about kids being groomed for consumerism, the fact that the merchandise for bratz is "forcing girls to grow up too soon"

but if you are aware of these things then you will probably make an effort to avoid them....

paulaplumpbottom Tue 12-Dec-06 21:43:34

Yes I recall my Barbie also prefered the Military type

Stockingsofdinosaurs Tue 12-Dec-06 21:27:10

I don't think Ken ever did, did he? My Barbie got through a slew of Action Man suitors.

paulaplumpbottom Tue 12-Dec-06 21:18:07

It has been brought up that Bratz are more culturally diverse. I disagree my DD's Barbies are very diverse. There are Asian and African & Indian. They are just not Barbie with different skin colors their facial features are quite correct. My DH even swears that the new Ken dolls do not prefer Barbie as his sexual preferece.

Stockingsofdinosaurs Tue 12-Dec-06 20:59:04

I don't know, it's frightening how many girls must adore Paris Hilton (if you go by the amount of airtime she gets on MTV) and she's a Bratz Princess Barbie all in one. And Jordan's pretty much a princess to all intents and purposes.
I think you had something when you said about girls valuing themselves by their ability to manipulate men but I think that's girls misinterpreting feminism and the products and adverts are symptomatic of that. I was certainly a femme fatale full of secret self-loathing as a teen and that was 15yrs ago.

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Tue 12-Dec-06 19:42:40

Oh thank you dinosaurs and merrymonkey - feel embarrassed now for getting angsty

I think I have poorly expressed what I mean, which is the creeping commercialisation of childhood and the blanket indoctrination of princess/Barbie culture is what I mean.

It feels like when we were younger, the branding wasn't quite as intense, but it probably was.

Anyway, I hope you are all right. I mean I agree that you don't get many twenty something girls that want to be princesses - it can't be that pervasive?

averymerrymonkeymooXmastoyou Tue 12-Dec-06 19:06:29

I apologise if you felt under attack from my post. I did read your first post and agree to a certain extent however what I was trying to point out was that children don't analyse the toys/films/books so neither should we (within reason of course). I don't think they think about things in the same way and I was trying to point out that although I (and my friend) was bombarded by these messages when I was little its had no lasting affect on my opinions or sense of self worth.

Also my DD is my first and I agree that you do worry about things more than those with more than one

Stockingsofdinosaurs Tue 12-Dec-06 17:45:39

Don't feel under attack Santa, I think it just hijacked itself into a general debate, not arguments with you personally, your OP probably got forgotten some inches back .

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Tue 12-Dec-06 17:11:55

I meant to add, after feeling a bit under attack for asking the question in the first place - thank you all for your comments anyway, which are most welcome.

I did want to hear both sides - even though I think there is an issue, it could just be first child-itis which I will have completely forgotten by the time the younger one gets there!

WhenSantaWentQuietlyMad Tue 12-Dec-06 17:07:54

Actually all you people having a go at me for analysing too much have got completely the wrong end of the stick anyway. I can't really see the harm in the dolls or the toys or any of it in moderation.

I do feel it has reached saturation point where it isn't very healthy any more.

What I found really idiotic were the films. I don't particularly want my dds to grow up being completely bombarded with a plastic commercial princess/Barbie culture.

Dressing up a doll is one thing, I agree, completely harmless. Listening to endless fairy tales about princesses where being attractive to men is the be all and end all of existence is less so.

As for Playboy clothes etc well that is just very weird. Why would anyone want that stuff?

averymerrymonkeymooXmastoyou Tue 12-Dec-06 16:16:23

Don't we all like pretty things? Isn't that why some poeple read interior magazines or browse smart shops? The aspirational aspects.

Who wants to play with a plain, overweight, flat chested doll wearing sensible shoes?

JennyLeevesmilkandcookiesforSa Tue 12-Dec-06 15:39:50

said in an american accent

JennyLeevesmilkandcookiesforSa Tue 12-Dec-06 15:39:31

Have you watched the bratz cartoon? it is like, sooo pretentious, yeah, like , totally!

JennyLeevesmilkandcookiesforSa Tue 12-Dec-06 15:36:35

I am confused I do not have a girl but i thought bratz were good as they are all different races and colours, then saw on mumsnet that- and come to think of it is true that often they dress like whores , the bratz. but who wants to play with a plain looking doll who is well covered and not too thin in clothes that cover them properly and who don't have a toy penthouse and , men and toy babies? I eman what would a little girl play with that is totally politically correct? the mind boggles

iwouldloveadollypleaseSanta Tue 12-Dec-06 14:58:19

i think children will draw their own conclsions and their RL female role models are far more likely to influence them than their toys. when i was little i was really into history and wrapped all my cindy dolls in bandages to make them into egyptian mummies. conclusion?

averymerrymonkeymooXmastoyou Tue 12-Dec-06 14:32:31

I aspire to be like Barbie, isn't she a vet and a doctor?? Plus a model and airhostess, no wonder she can afford the big house, the SUV and the pony If I were half as talented, smart and beautiful as her I'd be very happy.

I think we need to give our kids a bit more credit for being able to distinguish between fantasy and reality when they get bigger. My best friend and I played with Barbie when we were little, we are both now in our 30s and I am a university lecturer and she has a high powered job for a major fashion chain.

Less analysis more fun.

(Btw I have a DD)

mateychops Tue 12-Dec-06 12:11:01

Love it all, INCLUDING Bratz!
Go on, shoot me now, shoot me now!

oliveoil Tue 12-Dec-06 11:52:46

my two love Barbies and dd2 (2.4yrs) asked Father Christmas for a pink one for Christmas

I don't think they do any harm

Methinks people analyse far too much these days, "oooh my son wants a sword" "ooooh, my daughter wants to be a princess"


I draw the line firmly at Bratz and their bling bling crap however, ffs.

WigWamBahhumbug Tue 12-Dec-06 11:46:09

I don't have a problem per se with the dolls (although I did read once that Barbie was modelled on a Nazi sex doll, so maybe they're not so wholesome after all ), it's all the assorted crap that goes with them that really annoys me - the fact that there are so many different types, styles and accessories to buy, and that they are marketed so heavily as the toy for little girls.

But with regard to the perpetuation of female stereotypes, little girls neither know nor care that real women don't act or look like this, that her vital statistics are not compatible with life, or that her feet are so small that she could never stand up in real life. They just like playing with dolls.

I can see why some people don't like them (and I wasn't exactly thrilled when people started buying them for dd) but little girls don't look at their toys the same way that adults do. We know that they're selling an unattainable image; little girls don't - and by the time they work it out, they're too old for Barbies anyway.

And if the alternative is Bratz or Playboy then Barbie is definitely the lesser of the evils!

Spicedfennelwine Tue 12-Dec-06 11:38:47

though I am quite fond of "wetsuit barbie" who is a diver, her black wetsuit disappears when she's put in the bath. DP also, for some reason, likes this one.

the girls used to call her "wetwipe barbie" which did make me feel a bit, well, icky.

Spicedfennelwine Tue 12-Dec-06 11:36:41

This house resists barbie crap, and disney princess crap too. Despite having 3 small girls. Mine do have the occasional Barbie, usually bought by a friend, but rarely play with them. And I just won't buy them all that branded "merchandise" - Barbie or disney clothes or scooters. they aren't that bothered either.

Resist the pink plastic plague sisters!

HoHoHorsewoman Tue 12-Dec-06 11:33:37

Playboy Bunny stuff (widely available in Argos) now that's a different kettle of pornographic aspirations altogether....tasteless and nasty (When I grow up, I want to be a rich man's plaything)

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