Last week we witnessed history when Mattel unveiled a new and completely diverse collection of Barbie dolls. Three dolls, three new body types. Six additional skin tones, twenty-one eye colors and twenty-three more hairstyles. Bravo, Mattel! You literally broke the mold.
The excitement I saw all over social media was contagious and like many other women, I wanted to see which doll resembled me. I failed and although coming up empty handed didn’t affect me, it did get me thinking, if people care this much about identifying with an object, how much will they care if they cannot fit into any of these molds? I looked at the five dolls again and thought, was Barbie ever the problem? Time and time again, Barbie has displayed that women can do anything. They can be astronauts, smell like peaches and even hide pregnancies (we all know Skipper is Barbie’s daughter). Why point fingers an object when referring to confidence? Is it a toy’s job to make our daughters (and sons) feel personal worth or is it ours?
I grew up in an era where the only Barbie doll that kind of sort of resembled my culture was a tan skinned doll with big curly hair. “You’re Spanish, you get to be Teresa.” Ummm, no, I’m not going to be Teresa boo boo. I’m actually going to be Midge because I think her red hair is fi-yah. I wasn’t tan skinned and I didn’t have big curly hair. Teresa did not look like me and that was okay because it never made me feel less than. I was aware that a toy was just that, a toy.
Okay, tigers, don’t pounce on my comment section just yet. I understand that I was fortunate to have an intelligent team at home that nurtured me but it wasn’t just my family that influenced me, it was teachers, neighbors, servers, the cashier at our local McDonald’s and so many more people that would tell me I was smart, beautiful, strong and unbreakable. They were my village. Their input made me smart enough to never seek validation in other people or objects. My village made me, a pint sized little girl know she was indestructible. I knew I mattered. So, while you celebrate this truly historical moment, remember to also take the time out to do more than a social share. Celebrate the children around you. Tell a girl she is smart. Tell a boy he is beautiful. Tell them they will be something great one day. Show them that they can break any mold. Make them feel indestructible and remember that you are their village.