I'm not sure if there's any toy as fraught with controversy as Barbie. The doll is blamed for everything from decimating girls' self esteem to encouraging them to dress like hookers.
The whole debate is enough to give any mother of a girl a serious case of agita before each and every birthday party, lest one of the little gift givers comes walking in with a doll box. But with a 7-year-old in my house who has played with the occasional Barbie (none of which I purchased) and still seems to have a pretty hearty self esteem, I was curious: how much is the Barbie debate in our heads? Do little girls really think what we think they think when we see a Barbie?
I decided to find out.
I went online and found 10 Barbie dolls that range from slutty and skanky to pretty run of the mill. I found the tattoo Barbie who started the whole debacle last year. I found some designed to encourage girls to aspire to big careers (even president), and some that are decidedly not for kids.
And then I placed the photos one by one in front of my 7-year-old daughter and asked her what she thought. I didn't coach her beside telling her that there were no wrong answers and she wouldn't be in any trouble ... and asking her a question or two (would you play with this doll? would you dress like this doll?).
What she said made me feel a lot better about letting her play with Barbies ... not to mention my parenting. Take a look ... it might surprise you.
What's your take on little girls and Barbie?
Image via Flavio (back for awhile)/Flickr