Parenting

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!

barbie-project

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. 

barbie-project-play

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! 

barbie-project-myorganizedchaos

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! 

barbie-project-play-study

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.

barbie-project-kids-play-study

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

.

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

 

 

Similar Posts

84 Comments

  1. 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 πŸ™‚

    1. 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. πŸ™

  2. 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!

    1. 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

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. 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…

    1. 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!!! πŸ™

  5. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

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

  7. 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!

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

  8. Oh what a fun post! I had barbies as a kid. I loved them! I also learned to be creative with them. I got fabric scraps and made my own clothes for the barbie. My Mom made a “barbie tent” and Teepee for my barbie dolls and I used fabric scraps to make sleeping bags and blankets. It was so much fun. I saved all my best Barbie toys for my own daughter to play with when she gets old enough. I can’t wait until I can sit down and play barbies with her too.

    1. Speaking of – my sister gave the girls tends and sleeping bags for their Barbies for their birthday last Summer. They get a lot of use out of those! Happy to hear you plan to share!! πŸ˜‰

  9. I grew up playing with Barbies. I had a Barbie pool that I would drag onto the porch in the summer for the Barbies to swim.

  10. I have so many amazing memories of playing with my Barbies growing up! I’m so happy for you, congratulations on being a Barbie ambassador!!

  11. I didn’t have all the fancy Barbie trappings, just a few dolls. I used my own imagination and creativity to design clothes for them out of material scraps my mom had. I had so much fun!

    1. That is so great Liz! I had some homemade clothes that my sister crocheted. I think I might still have them … ?

  12. I seriously LOVE that Barbie is doing this. My oldest is 12 so it’s been a few years since we have played Barbies. I actually still have my Barbie House that my dad’s friend built me about 25 years ago. It has since gotten a paint job, new carpeting, and new pictures on the wall. Soon it will have my baby girl’s name on the roof and ready to be passed down again.

  13. It’s amazing the staying power Barbie, through all her modifications, has had such staying power. Is there any little girl who hasn’t grown up with some Barbie love? Very cool that you joined in the play with your girls.

  14. I can’t count the fond memories that I have of playing Barbie’s with my best friend. I look forward to getting the opportunity to bring home my barbie’s one day to my kids. Thanks for the fond memories!

  15. Oh so cool, first of all congratulations! That is so wonderful, can’t wait to keep up with your updates about Barbie!

    Barbie means a lot to me! I adored my Barbie Dolls and my dad even built me a very special doll house that I still have today. Unfortunately I don’t have a daughter, but I do have a brand new niece and hope to pass it on to her one day.

    Your daughters are adorable, it’s so cute to see them having fun and “celebrating”, that is so cool!

    1. Thank you Dawn, I became an aunt when I was 3 years old, so my Barbies were all very well used – by many! Glad to hear you’re going to make Barbie memories with your niece!

  16. I have been a Barbie fan forever too! I remember having an airplane, RV, jeep, etc. My favorites where always the holiday Barbie.

  17. I used to play with my Barbies all the way through early middle school, these days girls do not do that. I love watching my daughter play with the toys I played with as a little girl. Barbie has changed over the years.

    1. Same here Mindy, yet I never did. I as very happy to give this to my girls last year. They ADORE it!!

  18. Such a lovely post! I loved playing with Barbie when I was little but I enjoyed it even more when Sara started to play with Barbie! There is something special about sitting on the floor playing with your children…that is a very happy memory for me too!

  19. love the pics and review i played with barbies as a child,my kids did and now my grandkids do today

  20. Oh my gosh…I love this! I have two girls myself and it so funny to come into playroom and find all sorts of little “rooms” set up all over the place! Definitelty going to follow this project!! Love it!!

  21. It is really amazing how we can all share the same love of Barbie over the years πŸ™‚ as in my mid twenties I can honestly say I still love Barbie and would live to play lol πŸ™‚ to be honest I still have many of my Barbies, Ken, clothes, accessories, vehicle, ect. Growing up with Barbie has taught us to be imaginative, independent, child-like and so on. Thinking back to my childhood I remember using my creativity to build my own dream house and a beautiful bedroom for my dolls.

  22. I absolutely loved reading this because I don’t think that people really focus on how wonderful Barbie is for letting out ideas and creativity. I’m a Barbie girl through and through, I played everywhere, anywhere, with anything. It was a challenge to come up with stories for the props you had on hand. Obviously my dolls when to parties and took care of their children, but I remember getting more complex, using a Pringles can as a time portal or wrapping paper as a beach. I feel like Barbie was a great way for me to get creative with my friends and I pin my creative, trouble shooting attitude to Barbie and playing house. Barbie is getting a lot of buzz in the world of self esteem issues but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her image. Barbie is confident and beautiful and young girls should feel confident and beautiful, I remember feeling that way when I was playing. You can say the exact same thing about the characters in the video games boys play, sorry but probably zero boys that are playing are going to be heroes on wars against zombies or Italian assassins, but no one talks about how those characters are inaccurate depictions of males. Most girls don’t try to look like Barbie (with the exception of the Human Barbie which is strange anyway) so I don’t think how she looks is a big deal. I love the idea of Barbie and I pray someday I get to have a little girl to play Barbies with!
    Wow. That was a lot, but I just love that someone gets the insane amount pros Barbie has.

    1. I nodded my head through your entire comment Mariah, you nailed it.
      Also – ‘Pringles can as a time portal’ …. holy creative, that is awesome!!

  23. I loveeeee barbie, I’ve loved them since I don’t know when, it’s like they mean the world to me seriously. Ha, reading this article reminds of my childhood days when I would spend every holiday with barbie and since I am the youngest on my family, I would urge my adult sister to play with me, and every time we play, she would be like “okay, friend I wanna take a nap and we’ll go out for shopping” then She would literally sleep for REAL and I would end up waking her up like HELL…. I miss those days :((((

  24. That is so awesome. I used to LOVE playing with Barbies when I was their age. Now that I have a daughter, I am so excited for her to be able to have the same fun I did. She is not quite old enough yet.

    1. I’m glad you are looking forward to that, I felt the same when my kids were very little too! πŸ™‚

  25. Barbie is one of those classic toys! I played with my Barbie’s for hours when I was young. I am hoping to introduce Barbie to my niece very soon (and maybe even play a little)!

  26. Great idea ! Congrats for being part of this lovely project. Always enjoying the little moments with barbie!! It must be wonderful the fact of Sharing the same passion with your child. Im 20 years old and i Hope to have the same honor in the future and be able to do what I loved doing with my girls.
    Love from Argentina.

    1. Thank you so much, so nice to have you read and comment! Goes to show that people from all over the world grew up with Barbie!

  27. It looks like they are having a blast! Im’ happy to hear about The Barbie Project, I think it’s a great initiative.

  28. My mom was a big feminist in the 60’s and we were not allowed to play with Barbie’s! My oldest daughter liked playing with them but my youngest never had any interest in them,

  29. I love playing barbie with my girl too not that she showing interest in them.I have yet to give her my collection too, but i need to learn to share and let go i guess.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *