There were a lot of taboos growing up in the 90’s as well as a lot of images that were simply dictated by the media. Boys were fed messages of macho men with G.I. Joes, while Girls played with Barbies in doll house and supermarket scenarios. I would like to say that 20 years later, society is starting to wake up from these silent boundaries as gender issues are becoming more prominent and people are feeling less held back. Realistically, we probably still have some ways to go to achieve true equality, but this effort all starts with changing the norms for children.
Recently, Amy Schumer revealed she is being considered to play Barbie in a new live-action film based on the doll. But there was significant backlash to this announcement as critics were making comments about her figure and calling her fat. But Schumer, being the strong-willed comedian that she is, posted a picture of her in a bathing suit on Instagram with a solid response.
After calling out the trolls for their attempt at body-shaming, she states: “I want to thank them for making it so evident that I am a great choice. It’s that kind of response that let’s you know something’s wrong with our culture and we all need to work together to change it.”
Furthermore, Schumer refers to the role as “an important and evolving icon”. And I believe this is the critical piece to bring to our children: this idea of Barbie as unrealistically skinny, fashionable, but ditzy can change. Here is a simple exercise that can help.
What you will need:
- One pencil per girl
- Two pieces of paper folded into quarters
What to do:
- Instruct your Girls to draw 4 different images of Barbie dolls, one per quarter, in 10 minutes. They can include accessories to help differentiate the dolls.
- They will likely start drawing the typical Barbie figures
- Then, ask for another 4 pictures on the back of the first sheet. This time give them only 5 minutes.
- The Girls will probably start to struggle as they think of ways to make each new doll unique.
- Last, tell them to fill the second sheet of 8 squares with 8 new Barbie dolls.
- If they complain that they are out of ideas, you can tell them to look around the room, at their friends and various family members.
- Conclude the activity with this message: there is no “one” Barbie, just like there is no one way to play with Barbie. Everyone makes up their own story when they play with the dolls, so why should they look all the same? Wouldn’t it be awesome if Barbie looked like your friends Sarah or Jane? After all, they are very cool too!
This exercise can be done as part of the Discover What’s Important to You challenge, since it promotes good values like authenticity and genuineness. It also helps to make the Girls develop confidence and self-esteem because the’ll see that the Barbie figure is fake and superficial. They don’t have to look like Barbie to achieve greatness.