The Barbie Project

One word: Barbie

Barbie is one word that represents one brand yet encompasses so much in the form of history, opinion, ideals, expectations and yes: possibility.

I urge you to think: What does Barbie mean to you? What does Barbie mean to your kids?

For me, the two are intertwined. I am a Barbie girl, and what this entailed and how it formed my childhood, took me many years to realize. The Barbie Project

When the kid-me wanted a Barbie house, I used old boxes and some imagination to furnish my dream house. My Mom, well versed in sewing, taught me how to use an array of fabric scraps to make curtains for the windows which I cut out. My dad took me to collect scraps of carpet and linoleum from a flooring store, for this cardboard house.

Barbie represents my first job delivering newspapers with my Mom so I could earn money to furnish the house. You see, I wanted the latest {and pretty} bed, fridge, dining table and all the furnishings to go with it. So, I had to earn them and did so eagerly.

Barbie represents a lot of play with friends, either with this homemade house or under the big willow tree that stood in front of my childhood home. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the sun on my face and a barbie in my hand.

To me, Barbie represented simple play with no expectations nor adverse effects. If anything, my desire for Barbie play taught me hard work, imagination, creativity and how to pour my heart and soul into something I wanted. It also taught me to care for the things I worked so hard for. As my childhood turned into adulthood, though the cardboard house was long gone, my collection stayed well boxed in storage.

Fast forward to life with my own 3 girls, I had no hesitation in making the introduction. Girls, meet Barbie, your new friend. I can say with 100% certainty, there’s now 4 Barbie girls in this house.

For those that wonder: Yes, after some time, I finally relinquished my own collection to my kids. Though it did come with much hesitation. Long story short, I eventually learned to share.

thebarbieproject-myorganizedchaosI am proud to announce that I’m apart of The Barbie Project. This partnership involves taking a closer look at todays Barbie and my children. Specifically how they play and my observations of their play with Barbie.

As you can tell from my own past experience with Barbie, this collaboration couldn’t be more ideal. I’ve always been curious about how my daughters perceive this iconic figure and have often wanted to dive into their play and predict the stories they’ll tell as adults.

So, the first thing I did was get on that floor with them and channel my inner child. With a Barbie in my hand and a smile on my face, I, for the first time as an adult – played Barbies. Whoa!

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I listened to their chatter, took some photos and only interacted a little at first, but let them entirely form the direction of play. Imaginations, overload! I’m pretty happy with the scenarios they come up with.

Katie: “How about we’re sisters and we’re going to a party”
… Sophia: “ok … Hi sister. Let’s go the party. I love your dress”
… Katie: “Mom, I mean, sister. Come with me”

They are pretty goofy at play, yet maybe that’s because I was there. I couldn’t help but wonder how they’d have acted if they didn’t know I was around. 

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I kinda chuckled that the girls were using the Barbie Dream House as the hotel and the bookshelf as a daycare – the height of the shelves was perfect for Ken to stand alone. By the way, it’s he that was in charge of the daycare, and the Barbies went back and forth from the hotel to check on the children. Ha! 

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I love that they mixed some of their other toys into play with their Barbies, even using an armchair from another set as a car seat for the convertible. Safety first! 

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During play there was comment that stuck out to me,

 “Look at this Barbies eyelashes! They are soooo pretty!“.

I have to admit, I had initially took the ‘vain’ approach. Barbie has it all and now the eyelashes to boot. Yeah, Yeah – it’s all about the latest clothes and makeup. Deep stuff, right?

barbie-project-difference 

This is where some might form opinions that Barbie somehow teaches kids about things that aren’t really important. I mean, other Barbies don’t have these eyelashes. So, she must be better than the rest … ?

BUT, as I watched with an open mind, I picked up what was really going on here.

Difference. Not in the condemnation sort of way – but in celebration.

… “Sister, you have beautiful eyelashes”.
… “Thanks, and I like your hair”

My girls, in a very innocent way, were noticing differences in their Barbies and complimenting, nay, celebrating them.

I had a pretty proud parenting moment as I watched and visualized them doing this with people. Accepting and celebrating difference – this is one life lesson that I want for my kids.

It’s a fact that over the many years, Barbie has had many looks and 150 careers. She is proud to be herself and through this, teaches kids that anything is possible and that they can do and be anything.

On this day I learned that my kids are accepting of others and I didn’t truly have solid proof of this until I got down and played Barbies with them. While I can’t say that they learned this from Barbie herself, it’s nice to know that it exists and they are so open about it, that it’s apart of their play. 

Also, I couldn’t help but notice the use of the cardboard box as the ideal chest to store shoes, crowns and other small items. My kid self smiles.

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Over the course of #BarbieProject, I’ll have many observations and hopefully learn much about myself and my children. I’m very excited to not only learn to play again, but to truly see how Barbie forms my kids personalities, imaginations and dreams. 

When is the last time you got down and played with Barbie?
Do you have any observations and stories to share?

 

TheBarbieProject

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I am apart of The Barbie Project and I receive special perks as part of my
affiliation. The opinions are, as always, my own.
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Comments

  1. My girl went wild over the eyelashes too! Love that your daughter wanted you to be her sister during playtime!

  2. Loved every word but specially to read that you learned to share xoxo, so true, they are little treasures, it’s not easy to share a Barbie, but something that we learn with them too :)

    • Tammi says:

      Ha, funny how I was so attached to my childhood toys. I’m happy to say I handed over all of them … now I hope they don’t get wrecked. :(

  3. I remember playing barbies with my sister! Its a great way for them to use their imagination!

  4. My girls have that same townhouse downstairs now. The neighbour kids in our new neighbourhood all come over to play Barbies. So for us, here in this new home, Barbie is an ice breaker and a tool to get to know some new kids and new friends. I always thought my girls would;t be that girly. Well, they are and they aren’t and they map out their world and build imaginary scenarios with Barbie first and I love that. Even the tween, who told me stop talking about how much I play with Barbie, enjoys her still because she dresses her up and kind of rehearses fashion choices. I love that!

    • Tammi says:

      That is awesome, and so true. A couple times we’ve had new people over and all the kids are shy and not even looking each other in the eye. Then, the Barbies come out – instant BFF’s! And I can see my oldest being the same way, I thought she’d be ‘out’ of Barbies soon, but nope. Makes me happy to keep her a kid for a while longer! lol

  5. Viv Sluys says:

    Last night at my mother-in-law’s house, we (my m-i-l, sister-in-law, niece, and my 3 daughters and I) somehow started talking about Barbie clothes and then my mother-in-law left for a moment and came back with a grocery bag full of Barbie clothes that she had picked up at Value Village. We all got really excited and were pulling it all out, putting outfits together and oohing & aahing over the sparkly dresses and adorable hats. Then, of course, the kids (ages 20 months-6 years old) ran to get “Grandma’s Barbie bin” so we could try on the outfits and play. The 7 of us played Barbies t the kitchen table for over an hour! Then my mother-in-law let each kid pick a couple outfits to take home. It was so fun!

  6. What fun! The girls must be over the moon to be a part of this, with Barbie!

    • Tammi says:

      They sure are! They were fortunate to get *some* new Barbie items, but I’m bringing them out in spurts. With each one it’s a mess of squeals and hours of play.

  7. My girls still pick up their Barbies from time to time, but most recently have asked for a boy doll so Barbie will have a boyfriend. I’m so not ready for them to grow up…

    • Tammi says:

      I know exactly what you mean!! I hear ‘boyfriend’ a lot in even my twins play {I blame my oldest for that}, and I’m not comfortable with it. They grow up way too fast!!! :(

  8. For me, Barbie is a traditional toy that I passed onto my two daughters. I think too many people get hung up on her “perfect” look, but really I see no harm. Parents should teach their kids morals, values, and positive body image. I dont think a toy is to blame.

    • Tammi says:

      I agree with you Amy, kids have a lot of influence {other kids, TV, etc etc etc}, yet I honestly believe that myself nor my kids ever thought lesser of ourselves – because of Barbie. I find her very inspiring!

  9. It’s been many many years since I played with Barbies. I have some good memories building my own castles and Barbie houses in my room out of blankets and shoe boxes.

    • Tammi says:

      Ha,the girls just got new shoes last week and they immediately yelled “don’t throw out the boxes!!!!’. Such imaginations!

  10. Love the pictures and the Pictionary/chest isn’t that what it’s all about… to them it might as well be a vintage Louis steamer trunk!

  11. That’s so cute to hear their play! I was a Barbie girl to. I used the end tables as apartments. I had a Barbie house to.

    • Tammi says:

      The end tables!! YES! I remember that as well, the end tables with the door for storage … that made the perfect house!

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