Opinions/Rants

We Believe in Girls

If you own Barbie: Mariposa and her Butterfly Fairy Friends, you’ll see a short video under the ‘previews’ section of the DVD called ‘Message for Mums.’ This is an advertisement for this website here. Mattel launched this website a long time ago, back in 2008, I assume. The link I have included is cached, I believe, as you can’t find the original using the link supplied from the video. This means that many pages are missing, but regardless, most of the content is still there. I strongly encourage you to explore the site, but if not, I will explain the details here. The message of the website is:

“We believe in girls. In their dreams. And in their very natural, built-in desire to change the world. We believe in playtime (and more of it). We believe, in fact, that the magic of a happy, playful, inspired girlhood is the same secret ingredient that creates happy, inspired and powerful women.

And the world could use as many of those as possible, right?

We also believe that the pressure on girls to grow up fast, to dress up “fast,” to cut the midriff shorter, pout the lips out further, pierce everything earlier — that all this mad, headlong rush toward early sophistication* may have gone a bit too far.

We believe that it is our responsibility, as the grownups, to share what is right. And that’s what this website is all about.

Too far too fast? We want to hear what you have to say.

But hear this from us: We believe that girls are one of the most precious resources on the face of planet Earth and that this resource should be treasured, honored, nurtured and protected. It is, therefore, our pledge and promise to create a new beginning. To help girls be girls. And to help them leave all the grown-up stuff for when they’re grown up.

Won’t you join us?”

It also includes videos talking about vulgarity, the sexualisation of younger children, girl’s dreams and products that are sold to young children which really shouldn’t be sold to young children. It also includes lots of information and resources about what we, as grownups, can do to stop this and important feats of history. Can you believe that in 1966, Indira Gandhi became the first female prime minster of India and in 1979, Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime minister of Great Britain? Meanwhile, over in Australia, Julia Gillard did not become prime minister until 2010? Gosh, I didn’t think we were that behind, at least in the feminism sector.

The website also had some information about Ruth Handler and how she pursued her Barbie idea despite the company’s all-male staff disapproval.

Anyway, I remember going to a seminar about the sexualiation of young girls and it talked about how companies like Mattel (however the speaker only spoke about Barbie, like it’s the only toy marketed to girls that Mattel produces *rolls eyes*) encourage children to do things like wear makeup, wear tight clothes, and act like they are older than they are. The speaker then showed a commerical from the early 2000s of a Barbie Pretend Makeup Kit and went on about how it was sooo disgusting. I have seen this commerical in the past and recognised it straight away. While the seminar was exceptionally good and I came out with an increased awareness on the topic, I don’t believe that Barbie specifically should be targeted.

I, personally, do not believe that Barbie is a ‘bad role model.’ Let’s analyse this doll. She’s a 2015 Fashionista and a good representation of the standard Barbie nowadays.

Fashionistas-2015d

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She’s not dressed seductively, or wearing heavy makeup, or anything like that. I could wear this outfit, minus the heels, to school on a free-dress day and not get in trouble (and my school’s pretty strict towards dress code).

The whole point of We Believe in Girls is to encourage playtime, to encourage kids ‘being kids’ for as long as possible. And I don’t think Barbie is to blame for the sexualisation of young girls. You can’t blame a doll for something that huge. That’s like blaming Barbie for the existence of eating disorders. Ridiculous.

So that’s where I think the speaker went wrong. Barbie isn’t the problem. Sure, I’m sure it contributed to the problem, but so did Monster High, Bratz, Disney and other toy brands. They all contributed. But what did Barbie do, that none of these other brands did? Barbie launched a campaign, raised awareness, helped to create a conversation amongst parents and their children. Barbie partnered with experts like author Cheryl Dellasega, PhD and Leslie Morgan Steiner. Barbie conducted actual research in over 10 countries of 2000 mothers and daughters.

Even though the whole We Believe in Girls campaign has since been dropped, I believe its message remains true and it is still an important subject to have a serious discussion about.

I believe in girls -in their dreams, in the value of playtime, in their ability to change the world and their right to do so.

^^So that was just something I came up with on the spot after looking around on the website for a bit. I had seen it before but haven’t visited it in a few years and it was really cool to just reread everything. So I know my writing’s a bit crap and I don’t really have a point and I haven’t done enough research, but I suppose I just wanted to raise awareness on the fact that Barbie really did do all this research on young girls growing up too fast and did launch this whole thing and I feel like, being 2016, everyone’s forgotten about it. So I wanted to remind everyone that Barbie is not the problem.

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