There’s a growing flap over a new Barbie Doll. For reasons that escape me, Mattel has decided to dress Barbie in what looks like a “street walker” outfit. Understandably, parents are enraged. What adult in their right mind would want their eight-year-old playing “make believe” with a doll that looks like a hooker? What message does Barbie’s Black Canary” persona send to youngsters?
However, before jumping on the bash Barbie bandwagon, I did a little research. If you read the fine print on Mattel’s website you’ll discover that the Black Canary Barbie is not for kids. Rather, it was designed “For the adult collector.” Isn’t that good news? I know I feel better. No chance kids will be playing with this because it’s for adults, right?
Of course the fact that it’s sold at Toys-R-Us (their website says it’s recommended for “14 years and up”) and is slated to be sold in other major retailers next month, there’s an outside chance it might end up in the hands of a few kids. I can’t say for sure, but that seems like a distinct possibility.
This widespread availability of the controversial Barbie is guaranteed to put parents into a quandary. Imagine shopping with your daughter in the Barbie section at one of the giant toy retailers. Scanning the shelves she spies the Black Canary Barbie. The ensuing conversation might go something like this:
“Look, Mom! That’s the new Barbie everyone is talking about!”
Everyone? This is news. Mom pauses for a moment trying to hide her shock and then says, “Why don’t you pick a different Barbie?”
“Because she’s dress like a . . .” Before finishing her statement, Mom wonders if now is the time to introduce the idea of prostitution to her eight-year-old. Come to think of it they haven’t even had The Talk about sex yet. Where to begin?
“She’s dressed like a what, Mom?”
More hesitation as mom struggles for the right answer.
“Besides, I don’t have that Barbie and I want it” the child says with that all too familiar pleading voice.
Mom finally shakes her head side-to-side. “Honey, I don’t want that in the house.”
“Why not? She looks like Britney Spears–”
Good point.Now what? Frustrated at the way the entire culture seems to be pushing the lines of decency, Mom races to find the right words to express what’s in her heart. Her daughter reaches for the doll and says, “Plus, Mom, all-of-my-friends-have-her. I’ll be the o-n-l-y kid without her.”
Mom knows she’s losing ground fast. There’s no easy win when confronted with the “all my friends” argument. She could dust off the old adage, “Yeah, but if all of your friends were jumping off a cliff would you jump, too?” Somehow that never seems to win the day.
If you’re the parent of a Barbie-aged girl, I’d be interested to know how you plan to handle the above situation. Like it or not, thanks to Mattel you know that day is coming.