kids

Hello Barbie. When did buying you become so very complicated?

If Amy Schumer can save Barbie, a generation of feminist mothers will kiss her feet.

Because a doll might ‘just’ be a doll, but for us, Barbie will always be Trouble.

Trouble with her improbable proportions and her inability to stand in flat shoes.

Trouble with the many incarnations she can inhabit with a simple costume change. Doll, if it was that easy to switch between being an astronaut and a vet, we’d all be doing it.

Listen to us discuss Barbies. the Post continues after audio.

And Trouble because we know that just as we were once seduced by her attributes – boobs too big for real life and a seemingly never-ending array of life choices – now our daughters are, too.

Flashback to my house, my street actually, a week before the announcement that Schumer – the sharp, allegedly “unlikable” feminist comedian and writer who is nobody’s Barbie – is going to write and star in a new, live-action film about the doll.

Amy Schumer at GQ Man of the Year Awards 2016 Source: Getty

"Mum, I really, really want a Barbie for Christmas," my daughter is saying, catching me at a weak moment - the one when we're walking to school together, hands swinging. I only walk my girl to school once a week, and she always knows I'll be in a good mood when I do.

"I'm not buying you a Barbie." I don't even have to think about that one.

"But Mum, there are new Barbies now. And some of them aren't even that pretty. I think you'd let me have one of those."

If you have ever been in doubt that the tiny person who shares your home has got you completely worked out, that sentence should put it to rest.

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Horrifyingly, the "Not that pretty" Barbies are these ones:

Diverse Barbies Source: istock

"And Mum, there are girls surfing on YouTube because of Barbie," again, my six-year-old can pick my prejudices from a three-mile high, knowing as she does my grumble with the endless list of toys she wants is that they "Don't do anything".

She was talking about this video of incredible Aussie surfer Quincy Symonds, who is only six-years-old and already more fearless than most adults will ever be.

Quincy appears in a Barbie-branded video, here:

My daughter's well-plotted campaign is mounting. So with a week or so til Christmas, am I going to crack?

If a doll were only a doll, there would be no beef with Barbie. Imaginative play is at the heart of every lucky childhood, and Babs is only a vessel for our kids' creativity. But, but... She looks like that. And holding those unlikely proportions in their tiny hands is often the first time girls get to see a naked body that is not their mother's. And she looks like that. My daughter, no matter how she grows up, is not going to grow up to look like that. Because nobody does.

Yes, I could buy my girl a "diverse" Barbie. She could have the shorter, curvier version, or the less blonde one. But then, do I have to tie myself in knots about which one to choose? One who looks "like her", for self-identity, or one that looks like someone from a completely different culture, for #diversity?

See how tediously I can obsess over a few bits of plastic?  That's feminist mothers for you.

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Then there's the gender question. This week, the point has been made that every December we fall into lazy stereotypes of what the young people want. Trains and Lego for the boys. Maybe a coding kit. Barbie and sparkly shoes for the girls.

No Gender December is on a rampage about it, and being shot-down by "shock jocks" at every turn.

So, if I'm really going to torture myself over the relevance of Barbie, shouldn't my son get one, too? He could spend happy hours watching her get devoured by T-rexes. Because all of his toys are T-rexes. Even if they're trucks.

Little girl playing with trucks Source: istock

Once, a Barbie was just a Barbie. And the makers of the iconic doll know this, too.

That's why the diversity dolls. And that's why Amy Schumer.

They know they have a lot of ground to make up with grumpy feminist mothers like myself who fantasise their daughters would never be interested in such a reductive, stereotypical dolly.

But they are. Our daughters are so very interested.

"I really think you should let it go, Mum," says my daughter, swinging my hand.

It's Friday, I'm walking my daughter to school, it's sunny and we can smell jasmine in the air. I'm feeling hopeful, positive, anything is possible.

"Not a chance." I say.

Are you buying your daughter a Barbie this Christmas? Why? 

You can follow Holly on Facebook, here.

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