Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In Which I Am A Little Disheartened

I have made gargantuan attempts at steering G to playthings (dolls) that are as beautiful as she. I have not allowed anything remotely Barbie-esque to grace our house (well except for the barbie waffles that were on clearance but there was diversity with in the pictures on the waffles) at least from my own pocket book.

She was given (handed down) two barbie books several months ago that I ignored (should have thrown away) but she found Saturday. These were given to us by my sister in law and at the time I verbally said in front of sil that I don't approve of Barbie. To which sil said, "Oh well I think they are fine and SJ loves them." (She felt judged in her allowing SJ to have them.) Well, SJ, my niece, is the tall, blond, long haired, green eyed child that resembles the barbie. After pointing that out and how G will never be that, sil seemed to understand. (I still think I offended sil).

But this morning on her barbie waffle there were two faces, one the blond blue barbie and one the dark haired (brown) darker skinned barbie. G doesn't like that one. She said she is stupid or dumb. I kept asking what about her did she not like and she just referred to her as dumb. I said "That is not about looks, looks are eyes, hair and face." I told her that the picture had dark hair like her to which she replied, "NO! That's brown hair, not yike mine."

So the best I can figure is that I haven't done enough in making sure diversity is upheld in our house. So I will be getting rid of the blond barbies and barbie books in the house this weekend which will cause much consternation by the way. And without telling her why I need to get rid of them (how do you explain it to a 4 year old?), I can't be sneaky in just getting rid of them.

Yes we have Disney videos, and we watch Mulan, Pocahontas, and Jasmine as much as Belle, Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland (snow white is banned due to the wicky witch). We have a DVD with two stories that include Aurora (sleeping beauty) and Jasmine that she watches too (not the original stories). We have all the pooh ones and rescuers and Dalmatians and what not.
But we don't have standard TV so she is not bombarded from there with the perfect images. I don't have cable or digital anything other than computer internet access. And I don't give her the AG doll magazines unless I specifically open it to the beautiful dolls that are closer to her in appearance commenting how beautiful they are. But lately (last three nights) we have read these silly barbie books and now all of a sudden she doesn't like the darker haired doll on her waffles.

I may be making a bigger deal out of this than needed but it sounds to me like we need a playdate with our Chinese sisters to get back to what is truly beautiful, our FCC family and friends. G will have a lifetime of self loathing by just becoming a teenager (rite of passage). I just don't want it to start at 4 or for it to be about her being Chinese and not looking like Barbie. I really want her to have good self esteem to ward off the stupidity she is going to face from others (racism).

So tell me, I am over reacting right? What do you APs of children of color do now at this age to build up against the future racism your kids will or do face? Let's talk.


Lauri said...

I do get your point of view and applaud you for wanting to give Glenys a good representation of her culture in her toys to see the beauty in that and to have diversity. I have banned brat dolls for their slutty appearance.

But.. I also think Children will be drawn to what they are withheld... so If I were you, I would have a variety of skin color dolls and not make a big deal if she prefers one over the other.

More important is the message you are sending to her about her self and yourself image. Treating and talking about yourself with respect, teaching her about inner beauty and values will make more of a difference in the long run, than banning dolls.

I swear I could have raised Livi in a cave with no mirrors, TV and Disney and she would still be attracted to the blonde, frilly and pink stuff.. It is just in our DNA.

Johnny said...

I hate to bring you down even more, but all these movies and dolls that show "strong Asian" heroes? To me, as an Asian, they're just symbolic or even worse, token Asians meant to show that "everyone matters".

I don't mean to say that what you and other white parents worry about and try to teach is wrong or isn't going to work. But to me, one movie every few years, isn't what having an Asian face is about.

It's a white-person's world. There may be a little temporary deviation, but look at all our advertising and media. An occasional Asian face might be "cute", but too many...and people might wonder, "Errr, what's going on around here?"

(imagine if your local TV station suddenly had 3 of the 4 talking faces on there have Asian faces)

Ooops, sorry to pontificate. You can delete if you wish.

Wendy said...

To me, the Princess stuff is worse than Barbie. At least in the classic Princess movies, she was always the damsel in distress and needed a strong, handsome prince to rescue her. Ka-KACK!! But...she loves them. She likes the pretty dresses and fancy hair and that's all she registers now. But as she gets a little older, we will talk about the message behind the stories and make it work for us.

Barbie, at least, has had lots of successful careers and isn't always waiting around on Ken. And the White Swan Barbie? Ken is no where to be found....much like our little family. Hee!!

Sharon said...

I don't have too much of an opinion about this subject although when my cousin Anne pictured on my blog a few posts ago came to visit she saw Bailey's Barbies and gave her the speech.and I remrembered thinking that I couldn't wait to grow up and look like my barbies. When my thighs came in five times as wide as her's I went on a three year diet, but still my self esteem made it through. I don't think it was realy barbies fault. I think you nailed it when you said the teen comparison years are inevitable and inescapeable, gosh look at ths spelling even! Anne and I even look a little like barbie which might make it worse that our faults are so obvious, I don't know. What I do know is I see a few stylish and gorgeous chinese barbie esk yung women walking around town, in coffee shops etc and secretly hope Bailey looks like them. Then remember that I really hope she looks who she was created to be and nothing else. Glenys is such a pretty spirited little thing, she is going to be fantastic as an adult and no barbie is going to get in the way. Look at her mommy! There's her real role model!! She can't go wrong!

Snickerdoodle said...

I always tell mine that it's what's on the inside that counts. What's inside her head and her heart...that's the most important thing. Maybe if I say it 4000 more time, it might register. :)

My oldest hates Barbies! And I had nothing to do with it. Who knows about the little one. :) I don't have them in the house though, which helps. If they come in as presents, they go right back out again. LOL

dd Sunshine 7 Viet Nam
dd Brilliance 2 China

Couchkat said...

I agree with Wendy. I loathe the princesses (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White in particular). I don't care for Barbie either for that matter. But, I let Sophie go through her princess stage, she had a dress and a few DVDs and thankfully it was short and I think had little impact on her. For Margaux, it will be the same. I actually found a couple of baby Mulan dolls that will be thrown into the princess pack for good measure.
I have several Asian dolls for Margaux, but she also has the hand me downs from Sophie, that are mostly caucasian and blue-eyed as well as one AA. I think it's fine to have a good variety. As long as you're not saying one is better than the other, I think it's okay.

The Straight's said...

It is really tough to decide what we "shield" our children from. I have a variety of dolls in the house and she doesn't really show a preference for one color or the other right now.

You gave me something to ponder on for the evening ;)

Super Mommy said...

Interesting take Beverly. Do you think Glenys is not exposed to Barbie or Barbie type dolls outside your home? (specifically day care)? While I understand your desire to make a safe haven for Glenys at home - the reality is she is a minority and unless you live in a really, really diverse community, she is going to be faced with blonde haired, blue eyed people daily and she will be the minority.
Do you have friends of color? Does Glenys know them? Does she see you interact with them? Is your dentist or doctor of color? I guess what I'm trying to say is maybe your approach should be not showing how wrong Barbie is - but how right Glenys is - and that is by exposing her to people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Mary63 said...

Maddie just HATES Barbies in all forms. I have a ton on them, with accessories that I had collected over the years, but she wants nothing to do with them, or any other Princess or girly stuff. I guess I should be glad of that. I have a very diverse collection of Barbies, and when I would babysit for my friend years ago, the blue-eyed girls would always be fascinatined and want to play with the African ones. I guess they never received one as a gift or asked for one, so it was a novelty to them.

Shannon said...

isn't it just as wrong to teach her that Barbie and other tall, blonde haired, blue eyed people AREN'T appropriate than it is to have her only look at Barbie? I understand totally wanting to protect her and encourage her vision of herself as she is as completely beautiful. But saying that this other race ISN'T good is just as bad as saying her race isn't good. Isn't it?
i would think if you have lots of different dolls of different backgrounds, what she would learn is that people are different. and it doesn't matter so much what you look like, but who you ARE that matters. Just my 2 cents.