The Danger of Using Barbie To Define Beauty

Barbie’s “So In Style” Grace doll was part of my swag from Blogalicious ’09. I thought she and her little sister Courtney were beautiful, and I added the other two SIS dolls to my things-to-buy list immediately.

Then I saw the So In Style Hair Debate  article on MSNBC.com. In short, the article discusses complaints of the dolls having long, straight hair. This rubbed me the wrong way for a couple of reasons.

First of all, my daughters define beauty by looking at me and the other important women in their lives. If they hear us using the terms “good hair” and “bad hair” then that is what they will do. So, if I want my daughter to see the beauty and versatility of hair- natural, relaxed, whatever-then I need to do that by example.

And so what if the dolls come with long hair? I remember cutting my Barbie’s hair to look like Salt ‘n Pepa, because to me that was the epitome of cool.  I also remember braiding it and trying to color it with kool-aid (yes mommy, that’s where the kool-aid packs were going). I made her clothes and Ken was not her boyfriend, but her back-up dancer. That was part of the fun of being a child, I could be creative and my inspiration was part pop culture/part everyday life.

One of the great things about hair IS the versatility. I love that I can have an afro one day and a straight bob the next. Sometimes my baby wants two-strand twists and other days she wants ponytails. If there is a kit that lets her do her doll’s hair with different textures I don’t see that as a bad thing, just more ways for her to experiment.

So, while I understand the debate when we are shown in a less than positive light, this Barbie debate is not that. These are beautiful, educated, career-oriented dolls, that are also black.

Teaching Kids A Positive Self Image

My kids listen, especially when I’m not talking to them, :-).

It’s funny how quiet they can get when they’re trying to hear what I’m saying on the phone or in conversation with other adults.

Because I know this, I’m careful with my words when they are around.

Here are a few things I will not say around my girls:

  • I’m on a diet.
  • Does this make me look fat?
  • Why can’t you be more like your sister?
  • You are so bad.
  • Anything negative about their hair or body.
  • That’s not how everyone else does it.

This is a short list to make a very important point. As Mommy, I understand that their self-image is being formed, in part, by the things I do and say everyday.

I am teaching them through self-acceptance and positive praise that they are smart, beautiful girls that can do whatever they decide to do because that is what their Mommy does.

As they get older I hope these positive affirmations will drown out the negative messages. I want them to be comfortable with themselves, and have no desire to conform to standards that are not based on their individual beauty.

Natural Hairstyle for Little Girls – Two Strand Twists

Little girls natural hair style, two strand twist with ponytailMy Daughter Loves Her Natural Hair!

Sometimes children say things that make you smile inside because it shows you’ve made a positive impression, even when you are not thinking about it.

This is how I felt when my daughter asked me, “Mommy, can you do my hair like yours?”.

Here are her two-strand twists and she LOVES them.

#allhairisgoodhair #TeamNaturalHair

When Career and Passion Find Each Other

My struggle, that one area in life that has caused me much debate, is my career. Not that I don’t like what I do (I actually love it!), but I am most passionate about writing. I love everything about words and the power they have to instruct, inform and entertain, often simultaneously. I find it amazing that something written hundreds or thousands of years ago can be relevant today.

However, I have fought being a “writer” because I didn’t want something that I am so passionate about to turn into something I loathe. And instead of dealing with it directly, I created another distraction, my career.

On the outside it looked like a legitimate concern. I have over-obsessed about job choices and benchmarking whether or not I’m on track. I have been depressed because I made decisions that didn’t turn out as I would have expected. I could go on, but you get the point.

Only within the last couple of years, once I realized it was just a distraction, have I been truly happy with both career and writing (after all, I get to write at work!). I have been able to move out of my own way and let things flow as they should. I have stopped the self-sabotaging behaviors and have embraced letting the two live together. This is much better than trying to suppress one at the expense of the other.

If you have one thing that is a reoccurring issue in your life (relationships, work, weight loss, family) I encourage you to pick up a copy of O’s October issue. There is a great article on page 59 about distractions, or as they call it, designated issues.