*WARNING!* For those of you who loved playing with Barbies growing up or currently have girls who love playing with Barbies, you may want to stop reading right here before you think less of me. ;o)
I hate Barbies. Hate is a strong word, and I don't use it lightly. Just the sight of one makes my blood pressure skyrocket. My sisters and I didn't have Barbies growing up. We had homemade Cabbage Patch dolls, wooden blocks and a big tub of Legos. I am proud of that and don't feel one bit cheated. I have always vowed that I would never have Barbies in my own house. It's okay if the kids play with them at someone else's house, but they won't live in ours.
I'm not entirely sure what makes me despise the dolls so much. I think it's a combination of the unrealistic (and grossly perverted IMHO) body proportions, gaudy painted-on make-up, skimpy clothing and the overall look of plastic cheapness where popping heads (and limbs) off seems to be the most popular way to play with the dolls.
Enter in a Barbie-themed birthday party for one of Emily's Kindergarten classmates. It was supposed to be a swimming party, but when I dropped Emily off at the park at 1:00pm it was cloudy and 59 degrees with a stiff NW wind. So it became a long play date at the park. Emily came home with a large goodie bag that included a swimsuit Barbie doll. (On a side note, should I feel guilty if it's pretty obvious the goodie bag Emily came home with cost way more than the gift she gave??) Of course, the package was ripped open immediately, there was a dramatic naming of the doll--Abbi (apologies to my sister, Abbie)--and she instantly became Emily's inseparable companion. Poor Ruby the rabbit was cast aside forever.
So then what is a Barbie-hating mom to do?!? I tried to ignore it at first. Then Emily wanted to bring Abbi to church. I put my foot down and said, no. There were many tears and a refusal to get out of the van in the church parking lot. I had been rehearsing a speech in my head trying to explain to Emily why I didn't care for Barbie dolls, but as soon as I started giving it, it was obvious that was neither the time nor the place. We eventually made it in the doors of church and left Abbi in the van.
At home again I told Emily maybe we could try to sew a second strap on the swimsuit top so it didn't keep sliding down (i.e. Abbi popping out--Seriously, how can one teeny-tiny piece of Velcro hold a one-strap top on a bust like that?!?). Emily then decided she wanted to learn how to sew so she could make clothes for Abbi (good luck with that one!). Emily tried dressing her in the matching doll pj's that often come as a set with hers, but those are made for large 18" dolls. I informed Emily if she put pajamas on Abbi she had to keep the swimsuit on as "underwear," and I loathed the thing even more.
In the end, the only answer was to wait until the next "thing" came along. As has been par for the course with any kind of companion toy, after a couple weeks Emily's interest waned. I seized a chance to whisk Abbi away to a hidden place where she now lies forgotten. I know I can't control Emily's environment forever, but this is one thing I'm pretty passionate about. In the process, I learned an important lesson in patience and self-control to try and not make a big deal of things and just wait for an opportunity to make a calculated move. However, I just might be screening her birthday invites a little more closely in the future. ;o)