Revisiting Childhood: An Open Letter to Barbie

By Angelica Little
February 10, 2016

Along with the original, three new body types have been introduced into the Barbie family. Creative Commons

Dear Barbie,

How are you girl? It’s been a long time since we’ve had a talk.

I used to wear the big puff balls or the braids with the barrettes in my hair. Remember how I used to try and style you like me?

The older I got, the more you used to sit in my closet until I eventually got to an age where I didn’t even think twice about you. It’s just the cycle of growing up, hope you have no harsh feelings.

My freshman year of college I wrote a paper called, “I Believe in Clearance Barbie” and didn’t think it possible that I’d see some change in you in four years. I wrote about how having a doll that looked just like me raised my self- esteem.

I thought what you were doing was good, but of course, could have been better. I knew that if you could help empower me through just being a doll that you could do so much more for other young children.

And then you came under scrutiny in the past few years about not being body positive or not representing your target audience as best you could. I’ll admit, I was afraid for you, unsure of how you’d handle the pressure to try and please so many.

You’ve handled it well. I saw pictures of the newest dolls you plan to unveil throughout the year, and I’m excited for you.

Of course, there’s always that one person who still has complaints. An article argued that children shouldn’t be playing with an adult doll.

But you’ve been an adult for over fifty years and your original is worth over $20,000, so what does that author really know?

Creative Commons

My concern today is how you rival against technology.

Kids who should be investing in imagination are huddled over a screen. You aren’t pocket-sized like a cellphone. They can’t wow other kids with you the way they can with a tablet.

You’ve always been about empowerment to children and now you serve to empower children of all races and sizes. I think people have forgotten how much of an impact you’ve made on the world, regardless of your looks. You were more than aesthetics. You were about self- love, confidence and self-respect.

But now, again I ask myself, is that enough? To think, you’ve come so far and could face another hurdle. I don’t want to think that your age of renewal comes in a time where the doll is becoming obsolete.

But maybe this is what they need. Maybe instead of empowering children to be whatever they want, it’s time to refeed the imagination in another way. Show them that they can enhance thought through more than just a screen. Show them that they are still smart, still beautiful, still amazing without the backing of technology all the time.

And while I don’t expect it to be an easy process in fighting sales with technology, I hope that one day when my children run down the aisles of their favorite toy store, they’ll reach for you first and perhaps a tablet or phone later.

Angelica Little

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