My Recent Encounter With Barbie


I was at the store a few days ago and I was perusing the toy aisle… that is to say, I had bribed my children to stop begging in the food department by promising them they could look at the toys before we left if they were good.

I was looking around at all the various unholy mutations of my favorite 1980’s playthings when I noticed this Barbie mom:

barbie mom

I instantly thought, “Who looks like that when they’re giving their baby a bath?!”

I mean, really. When I give my baby a bath I’m usually drenched, shoulder to ankle, on the left side because I sit on the closed seat of the toilet while he plays.  And by playing I mean drenching my entire left side with water.

My tidy pony tail is a complete wreck before we are done because when I pour water on him to rinse his hair he freaks out and latches onto my head with both hands.  With a fistful of my hair in each hand he proceeds to attempt to blindly run through the wall of the shower stall to escape the torture.

After hair washing, he wipes his face dry… by clutching my shirt and pulling me close enough to wipe his face across my chest.

My make up gets wrecked by the…. hahaha! I’m just kidding! It’s a rare day that I get beyond tinted lip balm and a slathering of lotion in my makeup routine.

And look closely at that picture.  Barbie has another baby waiting in the kitchen!

You get down with your bad self, Barbie!  Bathing and feeding your twin babies and yourself on the same day is something to be proud of! (Well… we don’t know for a fact she fed herself. She IS terribly thin.)

There are those among us who think we should make Barbie more realistic so that little girls never feel bad about themselves.


It’s a doll.  It’s fantasy. It’s not real.

And that’s OK!

What little girl wants to play with the Slobby Spit-Upon-Shirt Mommy doll?

When I was a little girl I played with Barbies A LOT.  My dolls didn’t dress like the one pictured, above.  I’m not even sure they owned any “normal” clothes. My girls were all princesses and fairies and random “fancy ladies.”

1980s Barbie

They spent their time riding side-saddle across the open expanse of shag carpet and dancing with Ken and Batman (The selection of eligible bachelors in my house was limited).

They lived – all 4,000 of them – together in one 2 bedroom “dream house,” and, occasionally, they would bustle their hoop-skirts into their giant motorcoach and drive off to the guest bedroom where they would mountain climb and solve mysteries.  In party dresses and heels.

I was a smart enough kid to know that real life neither was, nor should be, just like Barbie’s life.

I looked to my mom, who worked very hard outside the home and my aunt, who kept the prettiest house I knew at the time, and my pastor’s wife who took food to every sick member of the congregation and my sister, who studied hard at college to see what real women looked like.

Barbie was just a toy.

It wasn’t until I was an adult… 36 years old, standing in Meijer with children of my own… that I looked at Barbie and thought, “Oh, man! Am I supposed to look like that?!”

The answer, of course is no.

I am supposed to look like me and you are supposed to look like you and… you know… I bet our daughters know that.

So why is it that it’s so hard to remember when we grow up?

As you go about the business of this day, if you catch yourself comparing, make a conscious effort to stop.  Admire other women. Respect them. Learn from them. Befriend them.  But don’t try to be them.

And, for goodness sake, don’t try to be them if they’re not even real!

Just be you…. fancy or plain, tall or short, bony or round, fair or dark, introverted or outgoing, creative or analytical, country or rock-n-roll…. the world needs the person you are.

Dr. Seuss quote

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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14 responses »

  1. Ha! Girl! I love this here!! This reminds us that there are certain things we need reminding of even though we are adult and we don’t think we need the reminder! So happy to be me.So happy you are you. Every person we meet has a lesson to teach, not someone we must emulate. Thank you for sharing! Happy Saturday!

  2. Isn’t it funny how our self esteem seems to actually wane during the early mommy stage? (I’m hoping it will be coming back soon). I know many girls really struggle with worrying about what others think of them during junior high and high school, but I didn’t really. I was sure of who I was, what I wanted to do, how I dressed- I had no desire to fit in with the “cool” kids.
    But now as a mommy to 3 little ones ages 3 and under, I worry about what others think of how I’m raising my kids. What I’m doing with my life. I feel self conscious, because my post-baby body is definitely no Barbie-body.
    Thanks for a reminder that we should all just be ourselves- since that’s who we’d be happiest being. I need to remember that it is far more important what God thinks of me than what my next-door neighbor thinks.

    • Exactly! My daughter’s confidence in her self and her abilities and her appearance far exceeds my own and I’m not sure why that is. I was just like her, at her age, but somewhere along the way we buy into the lie that we are “supposed” to be a certain way. The only way we need to be is the way God wants us!

  3. the judge judy eyeroll made me spit out my tea. fantastic! and good post. from one ‘took my pants off after wearing them all dad. climbed into bed. slept. woke up the next morning, climbed out of bed and put the same damn pants on’ mother to another. kudos

  4. I had all those Barbies pictured! I loved the glow in the dark one!

    And now a mom, I don’t take these new age barbies seriously either. Sometimes you do forget though that they are not realistic. I loved my barbies too! My dad accidentally threw them away recently! So upset about that.

    • My favorite one from the 1980s was Kissing Barbie. She had a little button on her back that made her pucker up. LOL. I feel your pain… my mom sold mine in a garage sale when I was in college. The whole kit and caboodle… dream house, motor coach, bubbling spa and everything… for $10. Some mother was VERY happy with her bargain find that day!

  5. If Barbie were full-scale and real, she would have really bad back and neck problems because of her chest size, and she’d have to pay a lot to maintain that hair color, make-up, and clothes that fit her unrealistic and very non-standard frame. So the woman would definitely have problems of her own (and boy, would she have major smile lines…)!!!! Being ourselves is definitely the best route to go. Thanks for the reminder!!! 🙂

  6. Very entertaining post. I never played with Barbie. I think my sister and I had one doll between the two of us and most of our playing was outside rain sleet or snow. But we did have a set of paper dolls with fancy clothes and I had a fairy tale book and we knew those were not real. Fantasy is an important part of growing up no matter where you are. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I loved paper dolls! I still do. I wish my daughter enjoyed them more so I could have an excuse to play with them. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

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