Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful
When I was a little girl I had a Barbie doll. I think she was the only genuine Barbie I ever had and oh how I loved her! I had to beg and beg my parents to make the purchase. I still remember the day they finally caved in, I must have been the happiest girl in the world. I spent countless hours with my new prized possession, trying her out in her various pink outfits, her high heels, and her diamond earrings. I longed for her beautiful blue eyes and long blonde hair, but that is not all I longed for.
Barbie had become everything I wanted to be. She was a role model that instilled in me a desire to possess nothing more than empty beauty. No dreams, no aspirations, no goals – all I wanted to achieve was to be beautiful like Barbie. It mattered little to me whether she was good or bad. Inside beauty meant nothing – outside beauty was everything. And of course I could never live up to that goal, after all I did not have the blonde hair and blue eyes that not only my Barbie possessed, but that almost every doll in my possession had. It is not something that I thought day and night about at a conscious level, but I do remember feeling sadness as a little girl with the knowledge that I could never be what I aspired to be.
I now have two little girls of my own, the older one is almost 4, and our baby is one. They are blessed with everything that little girl wanted to be – they are blonde haired, blue eyed, and beautiful. It has been many years since that little girl grew up, and I have since developed many different goals, but I am sadly conscious of a small part of me that is happy for them that they are naturally what I so desired to be.
As a result of the effect that dolls had on me as a child, I have become weary of the role and influence dolls have on little girls. I am very careful with the dolls I purchase for them. I do not want them growing up thinking that this is the only form of beauty there is. Not only are other different shapes and colours equally (and sometimes even more) beautiful, but I also want my girls knowing that superficial beauty means little, and that what is important is that they are beautiful on the inside.
So I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about Bratz dolls. I don’t think hate is a strong enough word to describe how I feel about them, I totally loathe them!! Perhaps I am reading a little too much into this, perhaps their promiscuous clothing are not as obvious to little girls. But then I remember when I was a little girl, how people underestimated me, how people dismissed me, how they didn’t realise I understood what they were saying, and how I sensed things beyond my comprehension despite not really understanding them fully. Children are very smart, much smarter than most give them credit for. They are like little sponges, absorbing everything around them. Although they will not immediately look at a Bratz doll and interpret it like an adult, they may think that dressing like that is more fun, they may even notice that those who dress like that will attract more attention, and most likely they will want to dress like them…they will want to be like them in every way, just like I wanted to be everything that Barbie was.
Sadly, however, it doesn’t end there. There is now a Bratz doll with the word “enter” on her belt. Apparently a representative explained it as being like a seat belt, an explanation you might swallow if you were dealing in a cute innocent doll with pink frills. A picture of the doll (as well as the story) can be viewed here, and I think most would agree that you would have to be a little more than naive to buy that explanation.
So where will this end? Perhaps in the future we will have little girls playing with dolls dressed in lingerie ? Where do we draw the line? And when will doll manufacturers take responsibility for something beyond the number of dolls they selll?? Little girls need to play innocently with dolls without the pressure to be something they are not, and certainly without sexually suggestive messages. Childhood should be a time of innocence, let them play innocently without these adult concepts that will change their worlds forever. It seems that with each passing day its getting more and more difficult for children to retain this innocence, but I for one will be doing everything in my power to let my children just enjoy being children for as long as I possibly can.