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Disney Princesses/Barbie castle. Should I indulge DD or steer her away?

(63 Posts)
Primafacie Mon 10-Oct-11 18:15:52

I have always made a conscious effort to get non-gendered toys for DD, 2.8. She loves her workbench, train set, playing pirates etc but she also likes dolls. Unfortunately our childminder has stereotypical views and has encouraged DD's interest in Disney princesses and the like - eg if she plays dressing up the CM will steer her towards snow white, etc whereas I would pick a monkey outfit. DD also loves Peppa Pig who has a bit of a princess obsession, as well as Ben and Holly.

Lately DD has been expressing an interest in getting toys that have a more girly theme. Some of them are a complete piss take tbh. I mean, a Disney princess cash register? Wtf. not sure DD fully understood when I explained princesses don't work at Tesco

Anyways, am I fighting a losing battle here? The princess thing is so pervasive, can I be successful in trying to avoid princess toys and all things pink and sparkly for much longer? Should I draw the line at Barbies stuff? The only thing is I remember how much fun I had playing with Barbies as a kid! I still very much define myself as a feminist. What are the pros and cons of allowing these toys?

Sorry to be rambling. All opinions welcome.

Gigondas Mon 10-Oct-11 18:20:21

Watching with interest as have Same issue with dd .

Gigondas Mon 10-Oct-11 18:21:51

Barbie pales into insignificance next to bratz ... They have I believe dr vet etc barbie which seems probably preferable to something based around preening looks.

vixsatis Mon 10-Oct-11 18:25:55

If Disney Princesses are not the only options which you give her, then I think it's fine. I think that if we get too rigidly opposed to the pink and pretty we risk denigrating the feminine just because it is feminine; and how sexist is that? There are plenty of reasons why one might find a pirate a less attractive role model than a princess.

Disney generally is ghastly; but she will grow out of it. I had hundreds of dolls and played with them until I was quite old; but it didn't stop me growing up to earn my own living, be a feminist etc

We've gone along the don't offer but don't refuse route with this, in order to keep it fairly minimal but without making an issue of it. So, we have never bought Disney Princess stuff ourselves unprompted, but we have never asked anyone else not to or said anything negative about them (not in front of DD anyway!). DD has asked for a couple of Princess bits and bobs but not much, so we have let her have those. So far she hasn't asked for anything big, hasn't shown a great deal of interest but knows who they all are and can talk with her friends about them without feeling left out. She's 5.5 and has plenty of other toys she likes. Someone has given her some hand me down Barbies but they haven't been played with much yet. I loved my Sindy dolls when I was younger I don't think it had a long term adverse effect. Bratz do make me shudder though, but we haven't go to that age yet.

toadoftoadhall Mon 10-Oct-11 18:33:31

The pros of barbie is she is very versatile and comes with loads of accessories and is great for imaginative play.

The cons of disney princess is it tends to spill over into other areas (like the cash register) and isn't so imaginative. DDs barbies do all sorts, they are chefs and vets and soldiers and they mend their own car and work in the zoo and are pirates but her cinderella doll is just cinderella, she isn't a doctor or a teacher or on holiday in London.

The cons of banning stuff like that is you aren't actually encouraging non gendered play, you are encouraging play with things that are stereotypically neutral or for boys and she may pick up on the idea that things that are 'for girls' are fundamentally without worth. She isn't being brought up in a vacuum, she will see that the boys she knows mainly play with the toys that mummy approves of and the girls play with toys that mummy doesn't like. She should be allowed to like things even if its just because of marketing the way that as adults we go through crazes for whatever is in at the time too.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 10-Oct-11 18:34:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

toadoftoadhall Mon 10-Oct-11 18:37:00

Yes, I would also have a word with the childminder. Its one thing to provide a load of stuff and let the child choose but its quite another to push the girls towards the princesses and, presumably, push the boys towards the trains etc.

MiraNova Mon 10-Oct-11 18:37:55

I diverted my DDs towards Groovy Girls, which still allow them to dress dolls etc, but which are better proportioned, and also nicer to cuddle. Website here -, and they are available in shops and online in the UK.

Tchootnika Mon 10-Oct-11 20:15:16

I'm with vixsatis on this one, and I speak as the daughter of vehemently 'gender neutral' 1970s parents, now (and then, too) well able to see that (a small amount of) plastic princessery isn't the end of the world. Really, gross as pink plastic trashy small girls' toys are, they're not going away any time soon, so it's probably better to indulge it a little, rather than giving it some great status as a forbidden joy.
Just take a tip from Elizabeth I: all things in moderation.

hermioneweasley Mon 10-Oct-11 20:21:09

I loved my barbies, sindys etc but grew up to be a well adjusted feminist. I know it wasn't as bad then, but I don't think it's a problem. I was also raised by a really cool feminist mum which I think over rode any other influences!

Tchootnika Mon 10-Oct-11 20:28:34

I loved my barbies, sindys etc but grew up to be a well adjusted feminist.

You see, Prima?
I was denied Barbies, and grew up to be a maladjusted feminist.

Let the poor child have her pink plastic fun, just make sure you refer to 'Barbara Castle' rather than 'Barbie Towers' or whatever. Then everyone's a winner! smile

silverfrog Mon 10-Oct-11 20:29:10

I wouldn't actively steer away.

dd2 has been infected by the Disney Princess bug (and by association, so has dd1 now!) - she is completely and utterly smitten.

however, interestingly, she attended a birthday party this weekend which was a knights/princesses one. and she chose not to wear her Snow White dress - her words were "I can be a princess in trousers'. she was the only girl there not dressed up to the nines (she wore her favourite trousers - red cords - and a t shirt - just normal everyday clothes)

so, while she hankers aftert he whole princess thing, and goes misty eyed whenever she sees merchandise, she does make sane choices too.

if you try to ban it, it will only increase the allure, imo.

KRITIQ Mon 10-Oct-11 21:09:11

Does it have to be Barbie or Disney Princess? Would a not-so-pink castle / house that could be furnished and foster imaginative play be okay for her but not push her down the pinkification route and filling the coffers of those mass produced brands? All sorts of people can live in castles or houses, not just body dysmorphic permasmiling mass produced dolls.

I think dolls houses/models are great because play isn't restricted to housekeeping, getting prettied up and looking after babies. There's the chance to do building work, decorating and gardening as well.

Actually, my DH wants a dolls house for Christmas - but DEFINITELY not a Barbie or Princess one, I might add. grin

Tyr Mon 10-Oct-11 21:22:26

My daughter loves pink and everything Disney princessy. It may be a drain on my wallet but it's a magical world for a little girl and I indulge her to the full.
Her sense of self worth will come from the values she absorbs from her mother and I, not the toys she likes. That thinking is similar to religious disapproval and should not interfere in the world of a child.
Oh, she also likes toy guns but I suppose that is a "sin" too in the eyes of some.

Hullygully Mon 10-Oct-11 21:26:11

My dd went through a weird pink stage for a year or so, and then moved on completely. Her brother wore a tutu, tights and carried a sparkly wand for about two years and then he moved on.

I don't know what that means.

Primafacie Mon 10-Oct-11 21:37:41

Thanks everyone for the helpful replies. Lots of food for thought. I don't want her to develop negative associations with feminine values, but I wish those values would not be limited to being rich and pretty, which seem to be the princess core qualities.

I used to think I would never let my daughters play with barbie dolls. That was before I had kids smile. She is not interested in the dolls yet, it is just the fluffy pink castle that she likes. I will try and find alternatives that are not of the Disney brand because it really gets under my skin for reasons I cannot quite articulate.

Oh, and I love dolls houses too. She has some Happyland and Fisherprice stuff which is great and much played with.

backjustforaminute Mon 10-Oct-11 21:37:46

I wasn't allowed Barbies as a child because my Mum thought they were 'silly'. I always thought I didn't care but the second my own DD1 expressed an interest in pink princessy stuff, all those years of repressed feelings exploded and I rushed out and bought a Barbie with huge sparkly pink dress with mini fairy lights blush

Conclusion: I am a feminist, DD1 doesn't take any crap from anyone is going to be a feminist too, and Barbie is sitting, beautiful but unplayed with, on a shelf in DD's room.

Tyr Mon 10-Oct-11 21:43:08

Hullygully Mon 10-Oct-11 21:26:11

My dd went through a weird pink stage for a year or so, and then moved on completely. Her brother wore a tutu, tights and carried a sparkly wand for about two years and then he moved on.

I don't know what that means.


How has your son turned out? By way of contrast, the first time my little girl was given a doll she bashed it off the wall, whilst giggling hysterically. She seems to be Ok now.....

sunshineandbooks Mon 10-Oct-11 21:50:29

Like a lot of other posters I think it's fine alongside other things. My DD has roughly 50/50 typical girls's stuff and gender-neutral/typical boy's stuff. She loves hello kitty and thomas the tank engine with equal passion. My DS is similar - loves spiderman and pink dresses (you're not alone Hully. DS had a pink, sparkly, I raise you musical wand for about a year, too).

It was noticeable how much more stereotypically gendered their choice of toys/play became once they started full-time nursery and then school. Peer pressure I guess. I generally allow their choices (money permitting), though I occasionally veto things – usually because it's plastic tat (whether pink or blue) that I know they will lose interest in 5 minutes after opening.

As a mother of both sexes I have found that this typical 'girly' toys are often more passive in nature and less well made than boy's toys (a trend that also applies to shoes and bikes), but you can avoid this with a bit of careful shopping around (and more money hmm).

scarlettsmummy2 Mon 10-Oct-11 21:56:35

haven't read all the posts, but I personally just wouldn't buy those kind of pink girly things. she can get her fix of that at the child minders but at home she plays with whatever you think she is appropriate.

I have a daughter the same age and she likes princess stuff at the child minders, however she is equally happy at home with me doing her Peppa Pig puzzles, which I see as a bit of a compromise.

PrideOfChanur Mon 10-Oct-11 22:20:07

I think that if you are not assuming that your children will only play with stereotypically gender appropriate toys,they will pick up on that in spite of the pressures from nursery,TV etc.
Thinking back,DD loved all the pink sparkly stuff,play makeup,barbies etc(sometimes I wondered if she was my child at,and we got her what we knew she wanted,but also other toys we thought she would enjoy once she had them,without making an issue of any of it.
I did the same with clothes too - I wanted her to be happy in what she was wearing,even if it wasn't what I'd have chosen.(Within limits of cost,durability and suitability for where she'd wear them,obviously!)
She doesn't seem to have been permanently wired into pink and sparkly,and is now a perfectly nice non pink loving teen.

Ds spent a lot of time being dressed up by DD and her friends(pink and wand though),and a lot of time charging around as an action hero,and he seems ok too.
So I think my answer to the OP is that yes,I think you are fighting a losing battle,but I wouldn't worry about it too much as long as you balance it out at home...

Hullygully Tue 11-Oct-11 08:58:40

Tyr - DS gave up perceived "girly" stuff when he started school. He came down with a row of hairclips across his hair and I said, look, it's up to you if you want to wear them, but I warn you that you are likely to be teased because blah blah. Sad.

Now he isfairly run of the mill, but definitely in touch with his "feminine side" (vom)

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 11-Oct-11 10:06:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Hullygully Tue 11-Oct-11 10:09:41

My dd used to make films of her barbies. There was barbie having a lesbian affair, barbie the psychopathic killer. They were fab.

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