Saturday, May 18, 2013

Barbie hair

I was having a conversation with a friend about when or whether we would ever let our daughters play with Barbie Dolls.

I had Barbie Dolls, so I don't think I would deprive Jordan of playing with Barbies. But not at this point. I got my first Barbie when I was 9 and I am using 9 as a benchmark.

I might get flayed for allowing Jordan to play with Barbies. After all, they send out the wrong body image message; making the big boobs, small waist and endless legs the ideal body type. The same kind of body type that will probably cause Barbie to trip over her own feet. That is a problem and I acknowledge that. But to me, the main reason why I have any objection to Barbie and why I'm waiting is that I don't want her to grow up so fast. Everything in society is rushing little girls to grow up, the Princess manicures, the heels on their shoes, the types of clothes that are available for them and of course the toys, not just Barbie but all the make up kits and the tween stuff. So, I'm trying not to be party to it, for as long as I can.

So, with all that bad press, why haven't I dumped all the Barbie Dolls that I have hidden in my cupboard?  Because I think Barbie playing is not all bad. I remember creating grand adventures for Barbie. The conversations and adventures they would have with one another were all very good company for a little girl whose brothers were much older and had grown up in a generation where mums did not go out of their way to arrange play dates. I didn't really mind because I had the Barbies, I made them a house and got them to date my brother's Action Men because I didn't have Ken Dolls (Much to the chagrin of both brothers!). Then, when I made friends with the girls in my compound, we bonded over the dolls. My Barbies made friends and we dreamed up even more epic stories and Barbie got grass burns, went swimming in the pool and spent all the rest of the time trying to get the water out of her body.

I also developed very deft fine motor abilities, putting on clothes and buttoning the teeny, tiny buttons on her clothes. And although I never mastered it, I acquired some rudimentary sewing skills while trying to very clumsily sew clothes for Barbie (I don't know why I bothered since she had such a vast wardrobe!)

But what left a long lasting skill was doing up Barbie's locks. Perhaps it was hair envy, because my hair was always a boring and unattractive short bob, that I paid great attention to her hair, brushing it, tying it up and eventually learning complicated braiding that I ended up being able to do on my own hair and now, Jordan's.

Jordan loves her hair done up; thanks to her Chinese enrichment teacher. Every Tuesday, she emerges from Chinese class beaming, not because she had a great class but because her teacher had once again weaved her hair into a complicated braid with all the ends stuck in neatly. So she asks that we do it for her at home.

And if I have the time, I do oblige because even though I am way past the Barbie age, I still find it extremely therapeutic and fun to mess around with hair. And thanks to all my prior training on my little plastic mannequins, I can weave her hair too albeit not as intricate as her teacher. Now, if only her hair wasn't so flyaway. But she loves it because it's something that Mommy does for just her.

What she must never know is that I also massacred many a Barbie's hair, leading to the conclusion that I could never be a hair dresser!

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