Monday, August 17, 2009

We've been thinking...

... and haven't quite come to a conclusion on this, but just how "harmless" are the princess, fairy, and Barbie dolls?



Never really thought about this much until here recently when I casually took a glimpse through my 6 year old daughter's doll stuff and realized for the first time that many of her dolls are actually quite "sexy". Hmmm. Not sure it's something I really want my daughter's filling their formidable minds with. Not a real accurate/Biblical view of femininity. She's got plenty of other dolls (Madame Alexander, Cabbage Patch, Dora, etc) that don't look at all sexy but are plenty fun to play with. Do our daughters really need these sexualized dolls to play with?
Are these the role models we want for them?...

Ugh... and what on earth do we do with all these DVD's and clothes we've accumulated?...

What are your thoughts?

13 comments:

Michelle M. said...

I tend to agree with you. I would prefer for my little girl to have more modest dolls to play with. I don't think the Brats dolls or even Barbie dolls give girls positive self images. I want my daughter to be concerned with nurturing others, not caring about her appearance.
Grace got some great, and modest, princess presents for her birthday. I am happy with those because with some she is able to use her imagination and others are just very modest, little girl princess things (book and puzzle). I am not sure what I am going to do if she starts eventually receiving presents that I don't agree with. I guess we will approach that when we get to it.

What have you done in those types of circumstances?

ReaganF said...

Hmmmm, interesting. I actually think that the Disney princesses are very modest (with the exception of Ariel--who is a mermaid...what else could she wear other than sea shells and Jasmine who lives in Arabia where even I might consider a bikini top in due to the insane heat!). Everyone else wears very pretty dresses and extremely modest attire (in my opinion).

Barbie is kinda different. You play with Barbie because she has so many different kinds of clothes and it's fun to change her outfits and mix and match to make new ones. Some of her clothes definitely could be considered 'sexy.' I'm not sure how I feel about Barbie and lucky for me Riley isn't interested so I don't have to decide yet. :-)

MelissaD said...

Interesting observation, Reagan, about Disney princesses. Definitely something to consider.
-------------------------------------
As RD and I discuss this more and more, it seems that our biggest concern is about our daughters developing an unrealistic view of life- a pampered, materialistic, "happily ever after" sort of false reality. Add that to "being beautiful/happy= being skinny/shapely"...

Another thing, call us stoggy, but RD and I are true lovers of the original. So things like Disney's the Little Mermaid or Peter Pan... ugh, don't even get me started on how off they are from the original story!

Ok, and one more thought... the moral premise of some things should really be taken into consideration. Take for example The Little Mermaid. Cute movie. Great music. I absolutely LOVED it as a child! But think about the moral premise of the movie for a moment: Ariel purposefully/willfully disobeyed her father because "he just doesn't understand" her and then she ran off to do her "own thing"... and she was rewarded! She was blessed because she didn't listen to her father! How Biblical is that?! Honestly, that's not really someone I want my daughters admiring.

I don't necessarily think we need to gut our toy, book, puzzle, DVD, and clothing stash and "rid ourselves of the evil" and be gone with it all. But perhaps we need to look at each item individually and decide if it's glorifying to God (or at least neutral) or if it's risque/anti-Biblical. Then out with the yuck!

Just some thoughts...

Deven said...

I did a double-take at Disney's new fairy line. I thought the Bratz line too sexy as well. So far we have Disney princess clothing, but I am being thoughtful about role models for Katy. I wonder how influenced I was by what I had/saw growing up. I guess I have more questions than answers. :)

Cyndi said...

I have never liked the Disney stuff - and we've never bought Amara any of that - but we've received some as gifts. What made me the most mad of everything was the Tinkerbell movie. The whole premise: fairies are who bring spring - they make the ladybugs and flowers and spiderwebs and cause the trees to bloom, etc. Very, very pagan! It makes me mad because God is the creator!!! I haven't thrown the movie away, yet, but every time the kids get it out - we have a discussion about how the whole movie isn't true - God makes everything. As far as all the Barbie movies - I've never permitted them because they are just plain gaggy. We very much restrict movie/tv watching and I'm not going to let anything that annoying/gaggy into my house. Ditto for Dora. :)

MelissaD said...

Ok, so far the most offensive stuff is Tinkerbell and the Little Mermaid. Pulled all that stuff out. Step 2, create a "maybe" pile and individually sort through those.

Just did a brief little Google search on the Princess Culture topic. WOW! There is just a TON of stuff on this subject! I had no idea! A LOT of parents are questioning, many are just down right upset. Interesting...

simplyserina said...

we avoid disney and barbies. my kids can play with them if they're at a friend's or family member's house, but we don't have any of it here.

some reasons:

1.) we don't do t.v. or videos, so they don't get most of the disney stuff.

2.) disney stories are generally dumbed down versions of the originals. we seek out good literature above anything else, and always avoid abridged versions (even classic abridged versions).

3.) oversexualization of children's toys. real women don't look like barbies. i don't feel comfortable letting my children play with doll clothes that i wouldn't let them wear themselves. we stick with natural fiber baby/kid dolls, which encourages their natural desire to nurture, rather than encouraging them to want fancier clothing, or to be prettier/look like someone else/have someone else's body.

that's just off the top of my head. i'm sure there are a multitude of other reasons to avoid disney and barbies. but we generally buy very few commercial toys (exceptions: legos, lincoln logs) in favor of natural materials and things produced/sold by small businesses and craftspersons. the kids get less toys, because they are more expensive, but the toys last longer and nurture their imaginations/creativity.

ReaganF said...

Honestly, I don't find the Little Mermaid offensive at all. She's actually one of my favorite princesses because of her spunk and determination. I guess it is just an individual family judgement call. Yes she disobeys her father and that certianly isn't the best way to go about doing things, but her father is pretty unjustly prejudiced about humans, isn't he? He pretty much chastizes Ariel for saving a human life and that she should have let Prince Eric drown instead. I hesitate to give Ariel a bad rap strictly for disobediance in that case.

jeffe said...

The very fact that you are considering such questions tells me I did something right. Thanks. Yes the world is too full of women who unhappily don't measure up to some artificial standard of feminine beauty, be it Barbie or (shudder) Bratz. The underlying problem is, letting little girls BE little girls as long as possible does not sell any products, and Disney is all about selling products.

Carmin said...

I agree with the oversexualization comment about Barbie. I never played with Barbies, but I did play with My Little Ponies! :) I think the body image of Barbie is completely warped, and it perpetuates not only an inferiority complex (but what if I don't have blue eyes and blonde hair and long legs?) but also commercialization and consumerism. Barbie's clothes, Barbie's dream car, house, accessories- it's all fueling the idea that more is better and that happiness is found in material things. As for Disney, I think that's a personal decision and each person might view it differently. Maybe it's a case by case basis, and the judgement should be made on the individual film, rather than the whole Disney family. Good topic of conversation, though! Bravo, Melissa!

Anonymous said...

My parents didn't allow us to have Barbies and Disney movies growing up, and now I see why. They distort reality and cause unrealistic expectations in girls.

Your dad is right, Mel, about Disney's (and Mattel's) motivation being money. Baby dolls don't make the same kind of money that Barbies and princesses do.


- Rebekah

MelissaD said...

It's so cool. Last night we had a heart-to-heart talk with Arianna about this subject and she really seemed to understand. Her words were "they're not modest and modest is hottest" (*grin*). She willingly (no tears or fight) gave up her "princess" puzzles, toys, clothes, books, and DVD's. As for now, we're only requiring that Tinkerbell and The Little Mermaid be removed. Someday, we may decide just to remove it all, but for now...

Somehow we've managed to go 6 years without Barbie being in our house! Yea! Or Bratz! So we don't have to worry about those!

Rachael said...

I loved playing with Barbies as a kid, but we never really noticed how "sexual" their bodies were. I liked them because, as someone else said here, I could change their outfits and do their hair. Also, we weren't all that concerned about Barbie going on dates, etc. We arranged our dolls into little families that did things together, and I had several kid-sized dolls so the families had children. We would set the Barbie house up to pretend it was an apartment house (so my best friend and I could each have a "house" for our separate Barbie families), a church, school, or orphanage. All really imaginative stuff.

Aside from their more sexual, adult clothing styles, I don't like Bratz dolls because of the name.

Many people may not understand this, but I really take issue with the princess products that are marketed to young girls. I love Disney movies and stories about princesses. But I don't like this marketing ploy that tells little girls that they are all princesses as well and that they can wear princess clothes and have princess-themed bedrooms, etc. I don't want to let my daughter think the world revolves around her or that everyone has to do what she wants because "she's the princess." We love our daughter dearly, but we also don't want her to be a narcissist, which is what I fear many princess products promote.