Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Walking through landscapes of my childhood, tripping over icons...

Apparently mutilating Barbie is a rite of passage. I cut my Barbie's hair off and tried to dye it with black shoe polish (it didn't work, Barbie's hair was curiously resistant). It would appear I did this because Barbie raises complex and violent emotions in children (perhaps leading to gender confusion), because she is an overmarketed, overhyped commodity. Hmmm. I am sure I was driven by a desire to individualise my Barbie. I can't remember having terribly complex emotions about her, though I have to say I'm pretty sure she was quite promiscuous. Strumpet.
I must say, I never tried to microwave her though.
And what do I think about supplying my own kids with Barbie? Fred already owns one, I got it for $3.95 at the supermarket in the last weeks of my pregnancy with Una. It's not a favourite toy. I think for me Barbie was such a dud toy that I don't see any point banning her. I'd rather teach my girls to respond critically to commercial and social constructs than entirely restrict their access to particular products. For a start I'm not keen on investing Barbie with tantalising "forbidden" qualities, amd also I do believe there is something quite healthy about exploring the subversible aspects of Barbie play (perhaps not so much in emulating promiscuity! But in altering her appearance or function, kids can express their own ideas of what BArbie's hyper-feminism might represent) and also ultimately in my experience Barbie proved unsatisfactory and limited, so I don't feel threatened by what she might have to say in secret to Fred about womanhood. Hmm...but then this starts to fall apart when I think how much I DON'T like Bratz. But that's purely a design issue. On the other hand, I quite like the other B girl with the colour-changing eyes.