Pulling Back Curtain On Beauty Myth

 

When young boys and girls are surrounded by media, marketing, and the entertainment industry nearly 24/7, what messages do they learn about beauty and physical expectations held by society?

Let’s use this image actress Allison Williams created for Instagram as a discussion starter with kids.

Image via Yahoo!

Image via Yahoo!

This photo is a great tool in showing kids how the beauty and entertainment industries work. It reveals beauty expectations held for women, as well as the difference between reality and mirage.

Compare and contrast the two different versions we see of the same person, asking critical thinking questions like:
~ cover the left side of the photo and only show your child the right side, ask them to describe the lady. now show them the right side, ask what differences they notice, what changed on her face? did it change how they perceive her?
~ how long might it take to achieve the look on left and what tools go into providing that look? make a list of how many different cosmetics and brushes it would take. (I count at least 20)
~ is look on left an everyday look, or special event look created by professional makeup artist? should women need a professional’s help to be able to show up to an event? or everyday life?
~ it is perfectly fine to want to get fancied up for a special event. does this look on the left need to be everyday? more specifically (for older kiddos) do girls/women need to feel like they should look like the left side *every day*? how might that pressure feel to them?
~ what messages are given about what physical features are desirable for women? is this inclusive of all women (age, ethnicity, etc)? if it is not inclusive, how might that make women feel?
~ what messages do boys/men learn when women are expected to look like the image on the left? are those fair expectations for boys/men to be taught? how might that impact them?
~ do men have to go to these same lengths? do men have to spend the same amount of time and money to be considered ‘presentable’? if no, how much money and time do men save?
more specifically (for older kiddos), if no, why is it acceptable for men to show up with their normal faces or even looking scruffy compared to what female counterparts look like?
~ ask them what they would tell kids about the tricks played beauty myth the entertainment industry.

“It used to be that actresses and models wanted you to think they woke up looking completely flawless. But lately, a handful have been pulling back the curtain to show fans what really goes into creating their perfect look.” -Sara Bliss for Yahoo!

Read the full article about the photo here on Yahoo! 

 

Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (PP&BB).  

TOMS Reacts With Lightning Speed to Consumers Voicing Concern Over Gendered Messages

This morning @morandifan1 tweeted a photo to me of a troubling message from the usually progressive brand TOMS. On their website’s kids landing page was a trio of three photos, one suggesting boys’ “Playtime Approved” shoes and the other suggesting to “Little Ladies: adorn their feet for spring” with a bubble gum pink background.

TOMS original landing page.

TOMS original landing page.

Girls are definitely more than adornment. Thanks @morandifan1 for using your voice to call this out.

On the PPBB Facebook page I posted:

Really, TOMS? Girls are not ornaments we adorn. Girls play, too!

Your website says, “A simple idea can make a big difference.” Here’s a simple idea for you: Please regard girls’ feet as the vehicles for climbing, running, jumping, chasing, twirling, skidding, sliding, and tumbling. Girls are children, active, wild and full of energy. Little girls’ feet do the very same things little boys’ feet do.

See girls for the instruments they are, not the ornaments our culture tells them to be!

TOMS post

 

That was at 1:15pm or thereabouts, you can read the thread here. I also sent out a similar tweet around the same time:

TOMS tweet
In no less than two hours TOMS had responded on the PPBB Facebook page with this statement:

TOMS

 

The update to their website now reflects a more gender inclusive message, inviting customers to check out “new arrivals for kids”. A marked improvement from the earlier suggestion that boys do playtime while girls sit pretty. We know that message doesn’t align with TOMS branding or how they view their customers, and I was so pleased to see how quickly they acted once made aware of the misstep.

Pink shoes, patterned shoes, glitter shoes, ice cream shoes, rhino shoes, stars & stripes shoes…..thank you for making all shoes for all kids and recognizing girls AND boys like dress up shoes and playtime shoes. Thanks TOMS!

The update to the TOMS website this afternoon.

The update to the TOMS website this afternoon.

 

MAW Profile PicMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

Mom Contacts Company Over Missing Girl Characters, Company Responds It Is Because Boys Think Girls Are Gross

*Please be sure to see Update 1 & 2 and the end of the post!

Veronica, a mom of two from Washington State, was shopping recently in search of Big Hero 6-themed fabric in order to make her two young movie fans some throw pillows. For those familiar with children’s media and the secondary product market, you might be able to guess what happens next.

The FULL cast of Big Hero 6.

The FULL cast of Big Hero 6.

Veronica would discover two of the movies heroes, two integral parts of the story and plot, two of the six Big Heroes, were missing from the fabric. As in, not on it anywhere. Which two characters are missing in action? Why, the female characters, but of course! Honey Lemon and GoGo were nowhere to be found.

Veronica and her children decided to pass on the fabric manufactured by Springs Creative and left the store. Her children were not interested in a choice that failed to include all of the heroes they loved.

It would have been easy to just leave it there, tell the kids they’ll find something else, maybe gripe to friends on Facebook. But Veronica felt she needed to speak out, and speak up directly to the decision makers who would have consciously left out the female characters. She was not only personally offended, she saw this as an injustice to her children and all children. Below is her correspondence with Springs Creative.

Hi,

I am the mother of two wonderful children who wanted some super cool pillows made out of their favorite characters in Big Hero 6. They love all of the characters, but their favorites are Baymax and Honey Lemon. Guess what’s missing from the fabric, not just Honey Lemon, but GoGo too. BOTH of the ONLY female characters, both equally as brilliant and smart and capable as Wasabi and Hiro, are missing. It’s not Big Hero 6 without them.

I can’t find a way to contact Disney to right this terrible wrong. As a woman, and an Engineer, I myself find this offensive. Put the Big Hero 6 back together on the same fabric. Even my children do not want the fabric without ALL of the heros on it.

Veronica

Veronica received the following response. It is a revealing look into how brands think about marketing their wares, assumptions made about children and gender, and the self-fulfilling prophecy they create for themselves training boys and girls to regard each other as separate and undesirable species.

Big Hero 6.2PNG

The missing Big Hero 6 heroes Gogo and Honey Lemon.

Hi Veronica

Thanks for your email! Here is a little background on how we develop our designs.  When designing for a new film, we are developing well before the film is released and long before we have seen the movies ourselves.  Thus, we rely on the filmmakers to provide a recommended target audience.  Disney’s target audience for Big Hero 6 is boys 5-12 and secondary are girls 5-12 and teens.  Since this is geared toward boys, we chose to focus either on the main characters (in this case Baymax and Hiro), or on just the boy characters.  We have found boys do not want girl characters on their things (eeeww girls! Yuck! Haha). Should Big Hero 6 continue to resonate in the market place I think you will begin to see more product and even fabric with all the characters including the female characters.

I hope this helps explain why you might see product this way. We enjoy hearing feedback like this. So please, continue to do so.

Best regards,
Emily Robbins Kelly
Licensing Manager
Springs Creative Products Group, LLC

As you may have predicted, Veronica was displeased with this response. The word Veronica used with me when we discussed this was “disgusted”, and my reaction was much the same. Worse, this response came from a woman. Someone who should get it, someone who should be an ally.  Someone who is part of a team who makes decisions that impact what tens of thousands of kids see and learn.

By the description from their website, Springs Creative is a clearly a rather big production: “Our distribution center ships to all states in the U.S., to 21 foreign countries, and to military bases worldwide. The distribution center houses more than 11 million yards of fabric as well as crafts and finished product. The facility is approximately 450,000 square feet with 32 dock doors.”

And those 32 dock doors ship 11 million yards of fabric from a company who tells its customers boys don’t want girls on their stuff because girls are “eeeeww girls! Yuck! Haha”. It is hysterical, if the systematic conditioning of children by marketers to be sexist and devalue girls is your kind of funny. If it isn’t, then you know this is just one more drop in an over-flowing bucket telling our girls they don’t matter, don’t count, don’t get to be present.

Well thank goodness for Veronica. Be not silent.

Emily,

First off, it’s Big Hero 6. Not Big Hero 4 and two others.

Women have just as much of a right to be here, be represented, acknowledged and idolized as men. Women have a place in this world too, and are capable of achieving greatness in math and science as well.

By eliminating the women in your fabric design, you are telling boys that it’s OK to think girls are yucky, unworthy and less than a boy. You are also telling girls they are unworthy, unwanted and that it’s un-cool to be smart and confident.

It’s not just your one design. It’s your design, with all of the other designs in the industry, in our daily lives, that tell girls and women that they are not worth it, they are not as important or capable. And even more dangerously telling boys that girls are worthless and yucky.

Colors, math, science, music and art are for everyone. Not just some for boys, and not just some for girls. For everyone!

But as for this design it’s a total failure, despite your target audience approach. It’s called Big Hero 6, and you are missing two of the hero’s. And I truly don’t think you will find many objections from any boy or girl to having ALL of the hero’s represented.

I will have to make my own designs for now,

Veronica

If you would like to contact Springs Creative to politely request they reconsider their thinking on this, you can find their info here. Use Veronica’s second email as a guide for tone and content, it is excellent. Let them know that kids love all kinds of characters, gender isn’t really a part of that coolness factor despite how convinced grown ups think it is.

Big Hero 6.3PNG.

I took an informal poll on our Facebook page today and the answers were refreshing, representative of what I was expecting from my community, and hopefully eye opening for companies and manufacturers who read it. Tomorrow I’ll put up a more formal poll on the blog for the community, the results of which will be compiled and made into a printable that can be downloaded and sent to companies who continue to insist on gender segregation in childhood.

Of the three questions I asked today, most people (out of 170 or so answers) replied with this pattern:

Question 1: Many popular kids shows and movie casts have a group of male characters (with a male main/title character) and one-two female side-kick characters. In the secondary-market toy and apparel products, the female characters are often left out (think Star Wars, Toy Story, Jake & Never Land Pirates, Paw Patrol, etc). This is because ____________

Top answers were B & C
B) manufacturers operate with the belief boys think girls are gross and don’t want girls on their stuff, even relaying this belief to customers, which influences what they think will sell and the products they make.
C) manufacturers operate with the belief girls are only interested in princesses and fashion and do not watch more action/adventure children’s media, therefore the female characters can get discarded from merchandise.

Question 2: If your child is the fan of a co-ed cast but the secondary market products leave out the female characters, are you less likely to purchase those products?
Top answers were B & C
B) I would not buy the product.
C) I want to burn this place down *

*Pigtail Pals LLC nor Melissa Atkins Wardy does not condone the actual burning down of things. 

Question 3: Think of the boys in your life you know, specifically ages 0-103. Do the majority of them think “girls are gross”, or do they have female friends and family members they enjoy, respect, love, learn from, and cherish?
A) The boys I know think girls are their personal kryptonite.
B) The boys I know think girls are cool and make good friends and role models.

The top answer for Question 3 was B) The boys I know think girls are cool and make good friends and role models.

So why don’t children’s products reflect this?

 

Update 1: The issue of girl characters gone missing from products is not unique to Springs Creative. They are simply one spoke in the wheel. Let’s call attention to and create meaningful change around the entire problem. Use hashtag #IncludeTheGirls to call out other products and media content creators who intentionally leave girl characters out. Need some examples to get your started?

Images from #IncludeTheGirls campaign.

Images from #IncludeTheGirls campaign.

Update 2: I received a call this afternoon from the nice folks at Springs Creative and they requested I post and share the statement below. I VERY pleased with their words and how effective all of you were with your emails. Well done all around today. And a sincere thank you to the team at Springs Creative for listening to consumers and being willing to make meaningful changes for our kids. Thank you!!

The following is the statement from Springs Creative:

Big Hero 6 fans, we at Springs Creative have heard you loud and clear! 

First of all, thank you all for your feedback about our products.  It is sometimes difficult to hear negative feedback but the message was clear and we intend to act upon your message.

Most importantly, Springs Creative does not condone sexism in any shape or form and does not design products to shine a negative light on females OR males. In fact, the majority of our licensed properties highlight strong female figures. We value the contributions of women greatly and are proud to say that over half of our corporate employees are indeed female.  We are well represented by females in our leadership and executive positions. This issue is not something we take lightly and this is not how we operate our business as a good corporate citizen.

Our Licensing Manager is a highly professional, competent and strong woman and we stand behind her as we do all of our associates.

The good news for you is that we will be talking with our valued long term licensing partner Disney immediately about additional designs for Big Hero 6 that in fact incorporate all of the characters you know and love.  We would never intentionally offend any segment of the population.  We are a strong company with positive morals and values and we respect and see both genders equally.

Thank you for your support, time and attention.  We sincerely believe you will be happy with the results coming your way soon.

 Springs Creative Products Group  www.springscreative.com

Now it is time to thank Springs Creative for being willing to make changes, send them a positive note on their Facebook page or send a follow up email of appreciation.

Update 3: Hey BoingBoing, thanks for featuring our post on your page!

MAW Profile PicMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

The Barbie Project: The Super Powers of Being Yourself

A couple of weeks ago Amelia enjoyed decorating her very own super hero cape sent to her by the Barbie Team as part of the new #BeSuper campaign featuring the Super Squad caped crusaders. She never really got into super heroes like some girls do, I think because for her the overall lack of female characters left her disinterested. Amelia was super excited when she discovered all of the new dolls in Barbie’s super hero line were girls – she loved the little girls on the scooters best.

I believe one of the reasons Amelia has taken to playing with Barbie is that her stories and play time are filled with adventurous female characters who travel the globe, explore under sea and outer space, hold interesting jobs, and perhaps the greatest adventure of all – live as a family. Unlike so much of children’s media, when it comes to Barbie the girls are central to the story, adventure, discovery and fun.

This past week our family has enjoyed some gorgeous spring weather in Wisconsin, a couple of days hitting the 70’s! Now, Wisconsin has four seasons – Fall, Winter, Summer, and Mud. It just so happens, my daughter has never met a mud puddle she didn’t love or that she could resist wallowing in. I could hear her whooping and hollering in the back yard as she played with one of our dogs and I decided to see what the commotion was about.

I was greeted by this in the garden…..

Amelia being super!

Amelia being super!

The sign of Amelia and a hose during mud season – or really any time of year – is never a promising discovery. The giant patch of dirt seen here is the result of a massive mud pit she made last spring.

Amelia has a magnetic draw to mud.

Amelia has a magnetic draw to mud.

And where there is mud, there is always MORE mud…..

Ugh. Mud!

Ugh. Mud!

I asked what she was working on and she replied that she was developing an “infinity water source” for our dogs ahead of summer time so that they would never be caught thirsty in the summer heat. She said if it proved successful, she’d patent it and sell it to cities so that stray animals would never die of thirst. (While Amelia was decorating her cape she decided she would be a rescuer of animals who were abused, neglected, or homeless.)

Amelia explaining how the suspension element works on her "infinity water source" system.

Amelia explaining how the suspension element works on her “infinity water source” system.

I asked Amelia what her super hero name would be and her answer left a huge smile on my face.

“Mom, I don’t need an additional name or secret name. I’m Amelia, and I’m a hero just the way I am.”

At our house we believe there are many ways to be a girl, and I’m so pleased my girl has figured out the ways that work just right for her.

 

Pink, muddy boots, and somewhere a girl who believes in herself.

Pink, muddy boots, and somewhere a girl who believes in herself.

 

 

Barbie Project LogoLearn more about The Barbie Project and meet the other bloggers on the project.

On twitter, look for hashtag #BarbieProject and join the conversation.

{Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign as part of The Barbie Project. All thoughts and ideas are my own.}

 

MAW Profile PicMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can read her blog at: www.pigtailpalsblog.com or connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals).

The Barbie Project: The Whole Conversation

The song that never ends.

The song that never ends. (Image source unknown)

We are overdue to change a conversation. A conversation is only as good as the information that travels through it. In order for a conversation to be a good one ideas need to be introduced, then ideas need to shift and evolve. The evolution might feel like an abandonment of principle at first, but it is the natural order to how ideas grow and realign as new information enters improved awareness and understanding.

All that is to say, this conversation we’re having around little girls, Barbie, and body image needs to evolve. We need to change with it. That is not to say we dismiss or forget what has already been discussed, nor disown those who disagree with any particular position. It means we move forward. Together. Because walking and talking in circles doesn’t get any of us very far.

Barbie is made out to be the most villainous of children’s toys, the chief complaint being body image and her “toxicity” to empowered little girls. I can find myself agreeing with some parts of that, for example, I’d love to see Barbie come in different body sizes but I understand from a manufacturing perspective why that doesn’t work (although, it would not be difficult to incorporate into digital and print media). I’d love for retailers to strive for greater diversity and offer children more Barbies of color on the shelves. I’d love for Overtired Working Mom Barbie and Stay-at-Home-Dad/Freelancer Ken. Stores should stock more Career Barbies like the astronaut, presidential candidate, teacher, doctor, veterinarian, and computer programmer. Less brides and more business entrepreneurs is fine by me, which also feels more in tune with the girls of 2015.

Barbie has held 150 careers since the 1950's.

Barbie has held 150 careers since the 1950’s.

But for all this, the conversation about Barbie always goes back to what Barbie looks like. 150 careers later the gal can’t win for losing.

We can’t seem to get over Barbie’s looks, to the exclusion of all other points of conversation. Barbie was never meant to be an exact replica of a human body yet anyone who builds a life-size Barbie is guaranteed a viral Huffington Post article. Any researcher who can gather a handful of young girls to ask a batch of questions about Barbie’s looks and the girls’ lifetime aspirations then publish with a headline grabber like “Barbie’s Long Legs Measurably Crush the Souls of Young Girls” guarantees being highlighted on all the girl empowerment sites, never mind how good the science is or isn’t. Everyone loves to hate Barbie. While we focus ALL of our energy on what Barbie looks like we teach our girls to do the same, ignoring all the careers, places traveled, financial independence, and friendship the Barbie story also offers. The media literacy around body image is very important, but to the exclusion of all other things? When we do that, what are we teaching our daughters is the most important thing about a woman?

Consider the speed at which articles about this super model or that older actress being “brave” or “our beauty hero” for posing in un-retouched photos made public race across the internet and into the nightly news, all while actual achievements by women barely make a blip. I think we are not being honest with ourselves when we simultaneously bash Barbie’s body yet focus our entire conversation on how we look or how someone else looks. If the bravest thing a woman can do in 2015 is show up in public free of make up and Photoshop we’ve got MUCH bigger problems than Barbie.

The intent of my words is not to defend Barbie, rather I’m asking if we all can expand this well-intentioned conversation we’re having. We’re missing the whole conversation. Life isn’t black and white. Life is full of gray, full of “yes, buts…” and “on the other hand” and new perspectives.

Image from The Barbie Project.

Image from The Barbie Project.

I find myself wondering, are we really being honest with ourselves or distracting ourselves when we use every mention of Barbie bear the cross of all negative body image issues? Let’s allow body image to be part of the conversation, and then let’s keep talking, observing, listening, discussing. After a year on The Barbie Project, I’m not convinced this is how little girls see their dolls until we teach them to. Granted the Barbie brand extends over multiple media platforms (toys, clothing, books, cartoon dvds) but at the end of the day, for most children, she is just a doll laying on the bedroom floor. Probably naked.

Over the years I’ve asked my large social media community when was the first time they can remember as a child feeling as though some part of their body was “flawed”. The second part of the question is who played a role in assisting that realization? What began as research for my book is now a bi-annual cathartic, eye-opening event. Hundreds of answers later reveal insecurities ranging from too much body hair to refusing to shave, skin color being too pale to too dark, hair color being too red or not blond enough, being too thick, being too thin, being too tall, being too short, needing a bra early to not needing a bra until college, having freckles, crooked teeth, acne……the list went on. And the people who made these insecurities rise when these women were girls? Moms. Aunts. Grandmas. Fathers and step-fathers and uncles. Classmates, from the first day of kindergarten all the way to middle school. Other parents. Teachers. Doctors. Friends. Above all, moms were mentioned over and over and over again.

Yet no one mentioned Barbie. Literally not once in any of these threads has the toy been mentioned which is why I find the preoccupation with her looks to be so very distracting from the larger conversation we could be having, for which Barbie should be a part of but not the entire focus. I think bashing Barbie really isn’t the whole conversation and when it is, we lose sight of where our focus and energy should really be in order to bring about meaningful change for girls and women.

Let’s focus on what women do, instead of what they look like.

Let’s focus on our individual influence and impact on the children in our lives.

Let’s recognize that Barbie as she is now represents one kind of beauty, but WE should be the ones defining endless versions of beauty and making it more inclusive, expansive for our daughters.

Barbie is a complicated doll, and can mean many things in many different ways. Perhaps that is a good thing to teach our girls - Women are layered and complex and not linear beings.

Barbie is a complicated doll, and can mean many things in many different ways. Perhaps that is a good thing to teach our girls – Women are layered and complex and complicated. (Image via When You Choose Hope)

I think we are wringing our hands and giving Barbie way too much power as we simultaneously fail to see our own. If there is one thing we teach our girls, it is that we should care more about what we DO with our life than how we look living it. If anything embodies this that belief I hold to my core, it is this comment left in the thread about when in girlhood did you come to understand your body was seen as “flawed”:

I was nine; I’d just played Bach’s ‘Minuet in G’ on the piano, for my school’s Parents’ Day. This was in Pakistan, where almost no one learns to play musical instruments; it was a big deal and had involved a lot of work. I was incredibly proud of myself. Photos were taken of all the performers and displayed on the school notice board.
As I approached the board, people were laughing and pointing. They’d found a photo of me. I looked at the photo, and for the first time, I realised that my cheeks were chubby, and that when I concentrated, my mouth fell open. I looked stupid.
That was the moment when I became aware that I was an object. I didn’t have words for it, but I knew that it didn’t matter what great things I did – what mattered, and what I would always fail on, was how I looked while I did it.
From then on, I’ve never been able to do anything with my full attention. One part of my mind has always been nervously policing the way I look: can I hold my chin higher to hide my cheeks? Is my mouth neatly set? Is my face pleasant? And I wonder what amazing things I could have achieved (or could achieve, still!) if I was freed from that mental burden.” -Noreen

When I read Noreen’s comment, tears sprung to my eyes and I gasped for air. Tears sit in my eyes now. I think about the mental energy women and girls waste thinking about how they look instead of what they do. I think about what the world has missed out on, contributions left ungiven and I feel a painful weight on my chest. I anguish over the amazing girls we are raising who might choose to sit something out because of worry over being pretty or worry about that she is worried about being pretty, and instead of taking over the world she remains still in a world of self doubt.

Our conversation currently is running like this: Instead of what a woman can accomplish or discover or enact or defend – we bring it back to what she looks like. Instead of what girls say or think or whom they inspire or rescue – we bring it back to what she looks like. Just like we do with the conversation about Barbie, which is like the song that never ends.

I’m asking us to shift the conversation. Can we evolve it, please? For example, there are some little girls out there with some incredibly confident mamas who are bashing the heck out of all of these stereotypes and we’re doing it by using Barbie and play as a teaching tool instead of an instrument of demise. We’ve chosen to take a step back, get a few deep breaths, talk out the tricky spots, and sit on the floor to play so that we can see the world through our daughters’ eyes.

I don’t care whether or not you or your kid plays with Barbie, I just hope you find inspiration from some of these posts and understand the conversation has to evolve past what we look like and move to WHAT. WE. DO.

We should care more about what we DO with our life than how we look living it.

Ruby's daughter exploring outer space.

Ruby’s daughter exploring outer space. (Image via GUB Life.)

Yolanda, on learning through play with her daughter. “She’s taught me so much more about body image and self love that I could have ever done.”

Ruby explores a rich heritage and cultural tradition through fashion design. ” I shared that grandma (my mama) has an embroidered dress given to her as a gift, something very common in our culture. I got to wear it a few times.”

Brandy empowers her daughter by allowing her freedom to choose her own wardrobe. “It’s clear she was expressing her adorable self and her growing little personality.”

Eliana discusses how dolls become a girl’s friend. “At her age, and with her individual circumstances, Barbie is a friend of hers.”

Tammi witnessed her shy twin daughter finding her voice. “Katie is finding her way. Her strength. Her ability to shine and be the star of the show after all these years.”

Kara and her daughter explore the difficult truth of how segregation and racism impacted their family. “As she played I asked her how she would feel if she was not allowed to go into certain places just because of the color of her skin.”

Kara's daughter explore social justice through play. (Image source Empower Her Inc)

Kara’s daughter explore social justice through play.
(Image source Empower Her Inc)

Jenny sees the power of children’s imaginations. “We tend to lose sight of how much we can add with our minds by expecting everything to be realistic and tangible.”

Brandy learns the power that mermaid effect holds on a timid swimmer. “The whole way home she talked about how she couldn’t wait to swim like a mermaid in class tomorrow.”

Ruby’s daughter travels out of this world to the moon. “Walking on the moon with Barbie was definitely done in an unexpected way.”

Yolanda discovers her daughter is a business mogul in the making. “I walked in on my daughter playing with her Barbies and overheard the dialog she had for her dolls. Her dolls had taken on the roles of my friends and I, and as such, each was a business owner, freelancer and influencer.”

Tammi sees what has been important to her three daughters over the year. “Again the summer memories are brought back to the forefront as their experience is reenacted in play.”

Eliana realizes Barbie is a reflection of her daughter’s unique personality. “Barbie has the most amazing and beautiful shoes any woman can dream of, but many times my daughter decides to let her walk barefoot and just have fun. Barbie is the reflection of my daughter’s personality and interests.”

You can read my Barbie Project posts here, where my daughter and I focused on all the incredible things her imagination can do with a doll dressed for 150 careers, who drives a jeep and a hot pink camper.

The confident, intelligent, diverse, amazing group of moms blogging for The Barbie Project as we coach our daughters through girlhood.

 

Barbie Project LogoLearn more about The Barbie Project and meet the other bloggers on the project.

On twitter, look for hashtag #BarbieProject and join the conversation.

{Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign as part of The Barbie Project. All thoughts and ideas are my own.}

 

Melissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author ofRedefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can read her blog at:www.pigtailpalsblog.com or connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals).