The Barbie Doll Conundrum

I’m about to enter into a fracas that has been raging for years. There is an all out hullabaloo about the harmful affects Barbie dolls have on our society and I, for one, would like to add my two cents as a father and husband now that I have a daughter who embraces them with every fiber of her little being.

First, let me make it clear that I won’t be tossing around any of the regular notions that are typically presented at the forefront of this brouhaha, such as the emotional effects Barbie might have on young girls in regard to their appearance. After all, I played with He-Man figures my entire childhood and my wife will tell you I have never felt like I needed to look like them, with their perfect bulked up bodies that could destroy a submarine with one flex. And that was just Teela. I’ll leave the brainy stuff to the psychologists and their bow ties.

I’m talking about finally shedding some light on the real problems associated with having approximately 8,324,749 Barbie dolls lying around the house.

Problem 1.            There are approximately 8,324,749 Barbie dolls lying around my house. My daughter has opened box after box during birthdays, Christmas, Hanukah (we’re not even Jewish), full moons, Mardi Gras, Cinco De Mayo, and post thrift store adventures. Homeless people on the street come up to us, not asking for money or food, but to give my child a Barbie doll.

“Can I get you a hot meal, though?”

“Oh no, thank you. She looks like she’d like a doll.”

Yes. She would like a doll. That’s the problem. She’ll always like a doll. I’m trying to teach her what actual floors look like in a house, but I’m not being allowed to do that because of the Barbie doll thing. I want her to understand the beauty of natural hard wood or even a well installed linoleum, but that can’t happen because there is a perpetual layer of naked dolls on the floor surface of my entire house.

Problem 2.            Everything is naked. Yep, I get it. They’re just plastic dolls, but there are two males living in the house and even the idea of 8,324,749 naked females can create issues. My son is almost a teen and I’m trying to teach him the value of a chaste woman; to appreciate the kind of girl who wears an adequate amount of clothing and leaves something to the imagination for the man she will eventually marry and that he should see nothing beyond that until his wedding night, praise the Lord and gimme an “Amen”!

Unfortunately, taking off all of their clothes is the very first thing a girl does when getting a new doll. It’s how they play with them. They disrobe them, then try on different clothes. The problem occurs when the child is still quite young, as is my daughter, and sometimes finds it hard to put the clothes back on them. Before long, I’ll hear, “Help, daddy!” and suddenly I’m fondling a tiny naked calendar model. Then later that night …

“Hey, honey. Um, you wanna …”

“We have church tomorrow and it’s late.”

“Oh, okay.” (Turns over in a pronounced huff)

“What’s wrong?”

“NOTHING!”

These problems could be avoided if they’d just make the dolls with clothing that could not be taken off and to give a little credit, some of that has begun. My daughter got a couple of Disney princess dolls that had painted “skin suits” on under their dresses. It gave me a start when from the back seat of the car, I had Elsa thrown toward me without her dress on. “Help, daddy!”

Kayla looked over at me in the passenger seat as I was holding the doll in one hand and her dress in the other, wearing a noticeable look of disappointment.

“Why are you frowning like that?”
”NOTHING!”

Problem 3.            There are only so many Barbie dolls that will fit in a single bathtub. Also, they all have long hair that doesn’t dry immediately. The beauty of that finely groomed hair while in the box is quickly undone once the post-tub drying experience has happened. One seasoned mom told me to comb it out and just let it dry naturally.

Nope. I have to shake out each individual doll so it doesn’t get moldy and once I beat the hair savagely against the side of the tub like Bob Ross beating the devil out of his paint brush, (for reference, here’s Bob Ross beating the devil out of his paint brush), Barbie’s hair looks like Phyllis Diller’s. (For reference, here’s Phyllis Diller.)

I try to explain that we only need to put a few in the tub at a time, but a four year thinks that the only way to play in the tub is to have every single toy she owns in there with her. So not only am I rounding up 8,324,749 Barbies, but also each Minnie Mouse and every McDonalds toy she ever got in a happy meal. Once I bathed a Cabbage Patch Kid for five minutes before I realized it wasn’t my daughter. I only realized my mistake after a hand shot out from under the toys holding a naked Ken doll. “Here, daddy!” Now, that’s where I draw the line. I ain’t fondling no naked Ken doll.

Problem 4.            Sooner or later, my angel will be too old for the dolls and I will face the day when I have to pick them up off of the floor for the last time. That day will be bittersweet because while I will enjoy the sight of a clean walking surface, I will have to also understand that this marks a turning point in our lives.

I’ll also have to figure out what to do with all of those dolls. I won’t give them to a thrift store. I couldn’t do that to my fellow man. I might go out under bridges and distribute them back to the homeless.

“You got any change, sir?”

“I just gave you a DOLL!”

However it turns out, I do know that there is a light at the end of the Barbie Fashion Accessory Tunnel by Mattel that somebody bought for my daughter’s last birthday. But there’s also a light at the end of the philosophical tunnel and that is that one day, despite the too-much-growing-up that my little girl will have done, I shall shower unencumbered by any tiny naked women lying on the floor just on the other side of the curtain, making me feel like I need some deep, intrusive therapy from a dude in a bow tie.

Until then, I can enjoy the simple things, like being in bed beside my wife later in the evening after she had to be the one to put Ken’s clothes back on him, and feeling a little nudge on my shoulder.

“Honey, … um …”