Barbie, Ariel and Me

One of my relatives doesn’t let her daughter play with Barbie. She feels that they promote an unhealthy image of women.

I don’t disagree that Barbie has an unrealistic body, but I’m not sure that banning a specific type of toy from your house solves the problem. After all, my girls love their Dr. Barbie kit, often leaving the doll naked on the floor with her hair impossibly tangled (isn’t that how Barbie always ends up?) in another room and just play with the Dr. bag. They line up their stuffed toys and administer needles and medicine. Barbie is often no where to be found.

I’m not sure where to draw the line sometimes with my kids. They’ll never look like this:

and I don’t want them to crucify themselves trying to. So is playing with Barbie bad?

I’ve relaxed over the years. What was once a firm No Princess stand has become a not too much Disney Princess, ok?. It’s not the playing of princess I object to, it’s the role that a princess tends to take. Even the ones who are determined enough to follow their dreams still have both beautifully and impossibly tiny waists and wonderful hair.

There are some cartoons I loved as a child that I abhor now (Little Mermaid). Sebastian’s catchy jingles pale in comparison against the underlying message of giving up your voice for “love”. I flip through the stack of old DVDs.

Little Mermaid: No.
The Incredibles: too violent
Shrek: too rude
Wonderpets: too annoying

The annoying voiced Dora and Diego often rule at our house, with a samping of Little Bear and The Backyardigans thrown in.

But where do I draw the line?

How do I teach them that they don’t need to be perfect when I can’t even teach myself?

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmingly unqualified for this job it’s frightening.

It was hard when they were babies. But now Leila knows who Justin Bieber is and Barbie and Princess has thrown up on everything and I don’t know how much to limit and how much to allow and there’s no one telling me what the right answer is.

A couple nights ago, Alena picked out Snow White for her bedtime story, and as I read, I looked at her and was shocked by how intently she was staring at the pictures. How much of this underlying story was she absorbing? That women are not to be trusted? That they are jealous creatures, willing to stop at nothing to eliminate those more beautiful than them? That beauty is the most important thing, that beauty equals virtue?

What does the story of the Evil Stepmother really tell us? Isn’t it just women fighting over a man? The step-mother is jealous of the daughter because the father loves her more (because she is both more beautiful and more virtuous, presumably).

I hated that story, in that moment.

It seems like everyone else is right with themselves. I look at other people and wonder: how can you be sure your husband isn’t cheating on you? How can you be happy with yourself? How can you have faith that you know what in the world you’re doing? How can everyone have the answers except me?

You can’t judge other people by what’s on Facebook and by how they seem Steve reminds me. Look at how other people see you. And I know it’s true, that each person is so filled with their own crap they can’t see straight at times, but their lives just look so great.

I want to do something that makes me feel strong and happy, I told Steve this evening. Maybe a new type of fitness class. He reminded me that I ran 32.5km yesterday and if that didn’t make me feel strong, there probably isn’t a fitness class out there that will.

You’re beautiful and fit and strong and smart. You have a husband that loves you and two wonderful children. You have to open your eyes and see that criticizing yourself is ridiculous. It’s not fair to yourself.

He pointed out that a year ago I was ten pounds heavier and happier than I am now.

So what the hell’s the problem? What the hell’s my problem?

2 Comments on “Barbie, Ariel and Me

  1. Oh my love! What I can’t figure out is how you are able to have faith in an unseen God, but no faith in how wonderful you are when the proof of that is all around you.

  2. Amanda hit it dead on. I find the more I grow in my faith, the more I am satisfied with who I am and where I am. 🙂 xo

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