Why This Feminist’s Daughter is Getting Barbies for Christmas

While I believe girls need to be encouraged to pursue all sorts of knowledge, specifically targeted for STEM activities and careers to overcome the sexism our society has and has had for years, for Christmas this year I’m buying my six year old a few Barbies and lots of clothes and accessories.

How to I justify this?

1. I ask myself, if one of my boys had a desire to get into it, would it be ok? If it’s ok for boys to like fashion, dressing up, and make believe play, it’s just as ok for girls. If it’s ok for my girl to be super into legos and superheros, it’s just as ok for the boys. There is nothing inherently wrong with liking clothes and play acting with dolls, no matter what genitalia one has. Pink sparkly clothes are no more evil than navy and brown.

2. I raise my daughter well rounded, encourage her character and learning abilities far above any physical attributes. She has a healthy, balanced life for a six year old. I personally have not modeled a concern with physical appearance. I frame discussions about what we eat and why we exercise around it being healthy for our bodies, not our outward attractiveness factor. We have discussions about how things work and why we do things all the time. We have conversations about choosing what is your own personal style even though other people may think it’s weird. I have made it a goal since I knew I was going to be a parent to encourage my kids to live their lives healthy, thirsty for knowledge, enjoying life, and avoiding materialistic habits. We discuss relationships and responsibilities. I avoid comparing us (either me personally or any of the kids specifically) with other people in a lesser than/greater than ways. I make it ok to observe differences while trying to be sensitive to other people, letting the kids know that everybody does life a little bit differently.

With all that, there is no way a skinny little blond chick is going to wreck my daughter. My daughter will still have to live life in a world tainted with sexism, but she will have her family cheering her on to be herself, be strong, and pursue her dreams. A doll she enjoyed playing with when she was six cannot wreck that.

3. Yes, I know of Lammily. Lammily is $25, and her outfits are all around $20 and don’t even ship until January. Guess how much I paid for six Barbies and forty Barbie outfits? $35 (thank you, eBay). That includes Barbies of different hair and skin tones. Lammily is currently only in cacausian brunette form. Will my daughter notice Barbies are different than her? Yes, just like she notices puppies are different than her. Dora the Explorer is different than her. Her brothers are different than her. Nobody here is holding up Barbie as a preferred standard.

4. I can’t afford what she really wants for Christmas. She wants a horse. Building a stable, fence, buying a horse, feed, medical supplies, and vet bills are way beyond the Christmas budget. Barbies, however, are totally doable. We also are getting a science kit, some great Usborne science books, strategy board games, and lot of art supplies, so all the kids have a Christmas that encourages growth in several areas.

5. My daughter enjoying clothes and dolls are expressions of her skills. She notices colors and shapes. She loves putting colors together with crayons on paper and clothing in her closet. She’s becoming an artist, like me, and this is a medium she enjoys. Her enjoying the play acting is developing her relationship skills. When I play dolls or ponies with her we have all sorts of adventure, but the overall theme is when she plays she’s so friendly, practicing relationship skills and social confidence.

6.  This stage where she loves to play dolls and dress up will only be a few years in her life. Even if she’s hardcore pink sparkles and fluffy dresses now, almost all girls shift their interests away from that as they become tweens. I love the idea of having her have a childhood where she gets to have fun playing with dolls with me and her friends. She will remember that the rest of her life, the happy memories.

When she becomes older she will notice the various pressures of the world trying to get her to distrust her confidence in her beauty and buy their crap to make her better. It will be distressing at times, and I wish I could shield all my children from the destruction materialism and sexism does to the growing up process. I will fight with them, listening to their thoughts, encouraging them, mourning with them over a culture that wants to worship movie stars and downplay intelligence. We will read books together to expand their horizons. Hopefully they will gain a desire to explore and learn throughout their lives.

In the meantime, while my daughter continues to grow, we will enjoy life together as fellow feminists who love to accessorize.

3 thoughts on “Why This Feminist’s Daughter is Getting Barbies for Christmas

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