May 20, 2011

11 Ways to Protect Your Daughter From Barbie

American pop-culture has a rich diversity of icons, such as Apple’s Apple, Disney’s Mouse, McDonald’s Arches, Nike’s Swoosh, and Barbie, “the icon, the image, the ideal.”

“Girl Power”

Barbie’s maker and marketer, Mattel, bills the doll as a symbol of “girl power” showing that Barbie can go to college, explore the universe as an astronaut, enjoy the thrill of motherhood, and run the country as President. But there are some deeper consequences with Barbie.

“Barbie is small and so petite. Her clothes and figure look so neat…. Some day I’m going to be exactly like you. Until then I know just what I’ll do. I’ll make believe I’m you.” Shockingly, these words belong to the first Barbie jingle when she made her debut on March 9, 1959.

Don’t Eat?

If Barbie’s 11.5 inch body were translated into a full-size frame at her original proportions, she would be 5’9” and have measurements of approximately 36 inches (bust), 18 inches (waist), and 33 inches (hips). She’d have to walk on all fours. Critics argue that this encourages young girls to hope to achieve an unrealistic, unhealthy body shape.

In 1965 “Slumber Party” Barbie came with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight,” which advised “Don’t eat.”The doll also came with pink bathroom scales reading 110lb. This would be at least 35lbs underweight for a woman her height.

An Instrument of Shame

Barbie’s unreasonable figure conditions girls to have a misguided perception of the ideal woman’s body. The constant marketing of these ideals aimed for our little girls, through Barbie and tons of other pop-culture products, explains their attempts at conformity to an impossible standard. Perhaps this is why 80% of 10-year old girls now diet to control their weight.
They feel like failures when they look at a Barbie and can’t measure up.
Rather than being a healthy icon, Barbie stands out as an early instrument of shame in little girls’ lives. They feel like failures when they look at a Barbie and can’t measure up. That’s the opposite of what any parent wants for their little girl.

The Point

But ranting about Barbie is not the point. And we’re not advocating a militantly anti-Barbie campaign. Many little girls play with Barbies growing up, and doing so isn’t going to destroy their adult lives. But ideas can be subtle. And they have consequences. The ideal behind Barbie is just one example of the many things that can attack a girl’s identity and self-image.
The girls entrusted to us by God need to hear that through faith in Christ they are adopted into God’s family.
My point is to direct your attention to the desperate need for the application of the gospel to the young girls in our lives. This issue of identity is a significant part of the distorted self-image our culture bestows to girls. Cultural forces and marketing campaigns preach a cruel, harmful message of image and identity to young girls.

Demonstrating Love

But as loud and dominant these voices are, parents can have a louder voice. We possess the opportunity to demonstrate our love and dedication to the girls God has placed in our lives. But what does this look like? Here are 11 things parents can do to demonstrate their love:*

  1. Dads, don’t underestimate your influence on your daughters. Tell them they are beautiful before the culture convinces them otherwise.
  2. Moms, be aware of any distorted body image struggles, because your daughter learns lots about how to think about her body from you.
  3. Protect them as much as possible from exposure to content that is harmful.
  4. Learn about the media and pop-culture in your child’s life.
  5. Get beyond the “Just Say No” approach to culture.
  6. Make age-appropriate conversations an essential part of your relationship with your child.
  7. Encourage children to use art, play, and writing to process the images and other media messages they see.
  8. Counter the narrow stereotype of both boys and girls that are prevalent in media and commercial culture.
  9. Share your values and concerns with other caring adults—your friends, and relatives and the parents of your children’s friends.
  10. Help them learn how to interpret and engage what they see and read in culture.
  11. Love them unconditionally. See them as a gift.

Daughters of God

The girls entrusted to us by God need to hear that through faith in Christ they are adopted into God’s family. They are given the most amazing identity: daughter of God (1 John 3:1–2). God adopted them and accepted them because he loves them. They didn’t do and can’t do anything to deserve his love. He loved them even and especially when they were unlovable and when they feel unlovable.



Anonymous said...

You Jesus freaks need to get a life! It's a toy what would you like these children to play with a paper doll? Sorry this is the 20th century girls have jobs, we can where pants, and don't have to waist our time on pleasing a man's every need. If these children's parents are doing their job right (parenting) their children would know that they are perfect no matter what they look like. So please get over yourselves. Thanks have a great day!

Israel said...

I strongly disagree with that comment. Children need to be brought up in the way of the Lord, and parents are given that role. They should carefully screen all these so-called dolls and comics and cartoons the children play with. They can be instruments of the devil to destroy them. Shamefully, jobs, materialism and money have taken parents away from their children. In old age, your children, NOT your money will bring you joy.

Julie S. said...

Jesus Freaks??.....Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Matthew 5:11 (KJV).....PRAISE GOD I AM A JESUS FREAK!! :) Having said that I strongly DIS-agree with "Anonymous" and strongly AGREE with "Israel's" above comment.
Prayers for "anonymous". :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with one thing anonymous said and that is if the parent is a good parent the child should know they are beautiful no matter what. I just think he/she said in a manner that wasn't very tactful. I think it is a parents responsibility to teach said child in a Godly manner that it doesn't matter if you aren't the prettiest girl in school or skinniest girl in your class or the best dressed or whatever. I think they should know that they are beautiful because they are made in Gods eyes and regardless how beautiful you think somebody else is that person is thinking the same thing that somebody is prettier than her. It is an evil cycle and parents do need to address it at a very young age. Let your children know how beautiful they are inside and out. They need to know you approve of the way they look. Let them know that theie body is their temple and if they take care of it they will always be beautiful.

Anonymous, you don't need to call us Jesus Freaks. It doesn't bother us being a Christian nearly as much as it seems to bother you that we are. We know what we are and we will not take offense to words like this. Have a very blessed day.

Cheryl said...

We would be HORRIFIED if our daughters wanted to dress/undress a 20 year old girl...We only allow BABY dolls in our home.

Musings of a Ministers Wife said...

If Barbie isn't about influencing a girl's idea of herself, why aren't they making any fat Barbies?

And I love your comment Cheryl!

Anonymous said...

Wow first of all I love that you called me a Jesus Freak! Second I don't understand why if people even read these blogs if they don't like what's being said, that's just my opininon, have a blessed one!

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of a young lady and have just had a recent conversation about her barbies. The problem we find most discouraging is that if we want to instill into our children hearts' the values of God's word-things that will bring Him honor and glory and show the world around us that we belong to him and are not influenced by the sin aorund us we have to filter everything. Most if not all of the barbie clothes are inmodest drawing attention to her long legs, bust, or figure. Should we want our children to be dressed in a way that shows off their body or do we want others to be drawn to their light and character? Look around at your local store and you can see even a barbie can influence what girls at age 5 wear. If it's not honoring to God to dress her way, if its not honoring to God to say things peope say on TV, if its not honoring to act in a way that certain sitcom shows protray why should we waste our time and money on something that can not draw our kids to santification. Yes I do believe we should explain and teach our kids to discern..and no I don't believe that if you own a barbie you lost your salvation...but I do think if we search scripture and apply God's word to every rule in our homes, everything we say, everything we eat, everything we watch, everything we play with,etc...our eyes will be open to many things that look good or innocent but can be drawing our little women away from biblical womanhood.Is there scripture that shows a Barbie is a great example, her shows, her clothes, her figure the way she carrys herself even if it is just a toy in a cardboard box of what a Godly girl should be. (no) Remember we all are sinners struggling in this world to keep right-right and wrong-wrong. Barbie was made in the image of what a worldy woman looked like at that time and whoever made it created it from their own image of what a woman at that time was.
Every Barbie created reflects a generational word view. Even TV show Icons have their own Barbies now...if Barbie was not influencial in a childs heart why does Hollywood use it as a outlet of revenue?

Anonymous said...

@the first anonymous commenter: The title of this blog IS raising godly children. Irony: that you are telling us Jesus freaks to "get a life" yet you are spending your time on this blog critiquing the writer for ideas that should not be any surprise at all to a person who already chose to visit a blog by such a name. This is an excellent thing to consider for those who hope to raise godly daughters.

Kelly said...

Anything above 126lbs is considered a "healthy weight" according to the bmi scale. 10 year olds are probably dieting because this country's obesity population is off the charts!

I think that if girls have good daddies who love them and healthy mommies who teach them good nutrition and actually exercise, we won't have to worry about if their dolls are too skinny.

And Cheryl, you're ridiculous.

Loo said...

i agree with that statement cheryl. i dont care if i am called a jesus freak/hermit/etc. i know what is righteous and that is how i will raise my children. little girls, like all children, need to pretend play. i think a babydoll would be most appropriate as it will teach the nurture/care aspect considering that will be their duty once our daughters bare children.

Sarah Magdziarz said...

I played with barbies as a kid and turned out just fine. But I also had parents who raised me in the Word of God and were careful to teach me a godly biblical worldview. I think it is important to be wary of what we expose our children to, however barbies are no different from cartoons, movies ect. Anything this evil world produces can be a detriment to our little people's souls. So let's be careful to not blame things like barbies, for our daughter's view of herself, when we as parents aren't doing the things we should be doing. Just my humble opinion.

Isis said...

You, good person, are a moron. It's not about a religious message. It's about how a toy distorts self-image.

Anonymous said...

My biggest concerns about barbie are immodesty and to much makeup. I think dolls are wonderful toys, but as with anything my children play with, they need to align with the biblical values we're teaching them. There are many more options out there!

Anonymous said...

To the first anonymous: I don't know how you hold a job if you can't spell. You "wear" pants and "waste" time, not where and waist. At least spell your insulting comments correctly.

Anonymous said...

Maybe us as parents should just be a bigger influence in our children's lives.. Bigger then a barbie doll. If your daughter starts idolizing a barbie then you're not doing your job. You can't protect them from every little thing that may or may not cause them to have a distorted body image. What about magazines? Billboards? The neighbor washing her car in a bikini? I played with barbies, was raised in a godly home and turned out just fine. And so will my barbie loving daughter.

Anonymous said...


Times maybe be different but guess what it's not only Barbie making it seem being under weight is the only healthy body image, it's television , magazines etc, they used Barbie as an example! you have probably never seen or met anyone with an eating disorder because of these things that are pushed upon society. It's also because of this 20th century you speak of that women aren't staying home to raise their girls to be well rounded women. You have teenage girls working in daycares that had working parents and so on and so forth so there are generations that were not parented correctly as you say parents should be doing. So your argument contradicts itself. Maybe if your parents taught you certain things you would know you shouldn't judge "Jesus Freaks" and also if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all.....

Anonymous said...

perhaps if you read through the article, it is about interacting with your children, both male and female. applying such lessons as learning to spell and applying the correct spelling in the context in which you intended it will help our children break the cycles of this world. teaching Godly lessons rather than how to fit in with this forsaken world is not wrong and should be encouraged, not gotten over. all days are glorious in Jesus, thanks for letting me share.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous waist?? try waste two totally different meanings.

Anonymous said...

Why are you even on this blog??

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled with this article. While some people may argue "hey, it's just a doll", what it represents to our children is what's harmful. I just don't think dolls (babies or otherwise) are the right toy for any kid, at it just perpetuates stereotypes that finally can leave scars in ur children hearts.

In our family, we let our daughter draw what she thinks is the ideal doll for her, and we did it with wool, cotton and a sock. She just loves it, and we think it's safer than perpetuate all those negative stereotypes.

And to the first comment, about the jesus freaks. Even as a gay atheist myself, If I go into a christian blog, the least thing I must do is respect the author's opinion for what he or she is, and stand for their right of religion freedom.



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