The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) is presenting its first ever TOADY Award (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children) this February. The award will go to the year's worst toy, which will champion violence, squash imagination, promote irresponsible consumerism, or, like this Barbie, steer young girls toward certain gender roles.
I voted for Barbie, but let me qualify that. I used to play with Barbies. I loved Barbies. My favorites were a Barbie family I only vaguely remember receiving as a gift--from my parents, I think. There was Barbie, the mother, with her frizzy brown hair; Ken, the father, in some strange shorty pajamas; and two adorable toddler twins, a boy and a girl, with hair like their mother's. Barbie looked somewhat normal despite her deformed, made-for-stilettos feet. And they were parents, and playing with them allowed me to daydream about becoming a mother someday.
When I visited my grandmother's house, I used to play with my aunt's old Barbies which were a couple of decades older than mine. I wondered at their slightly boyish figures and quirky freckles. They looked more true to life than my Barbies at home. A few years ago, I saw a veterinarian Barbie and thought it was a good idea. Wikipedia features a long list of Barbie's careers over the past few decades--but sadly, these career Barbies are not so prevalent anymore. It seems that the vast majority of Barbies today are made for the purpose of showing off blatantly unattainable figures and wearing teeny little outfits.
As a side note, my own parents bought me Barbies wearing tippy-toe high heels. Then they were surprised and annoyed when I started asking for high heels (from the time I learned to talk). The last argument my mother and I had over a pair of high heels was in high school. I was going to a semiformal and wanted to wear some extremely high strappy sandals, but my mom thought I should wear the plain granny shoes I wore for chorus performances. (I won.) But do little girls who never play with Barbies have such a yearning for high heels? Parents should give their daughters dolls they want them to emulate.
The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Barbie is the worst I've seen. It's not that I have anything against cheerleaders in general; it's just that this Barbie appears to have anorexia. No girl could ever reach the inadvisable goal of looking like this Barbie, and if she did she'd be deathly ill. This Barbie reaches new levels of thin. Her uniform looks like it might fall off. It makes me wonder if they thought classic Barbie's figure was a tad chunky to make the squad. I even looked up pictures of the real Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to compare, and they look like normal women. I don't understand why they'd make the Barbie look like this!
But don't let me tell you who to vote for. The other toys are equally ridiculous...
Baby Alive Learns to Potty--Yeah, she poops now. You can be changing a doll's stinky diapers for the low price of $60. Until you run out of diapers, at which point you'll have to pay $10 or so for a six pack to replace them. The reviews on the diapers are mostly negative, though--apparently they leak. Tee-hee.
Power Wheels Cadillac Escalade--I wouldn't drive a real one, and wouldn't want my kid driving a miniature one.
Lego Batman Video Game--I dislike most video games anyway, but, as the CCFC's website points out, aren't Legos supposed to be for creative building? Maybe I am confused.
Smart Cycle by Fisher Price--This is the least of the evils in my mind--particularly during the freezing winter months when children are forced to spend most of their free time indoors. Anyway, the argument goes that children should be riding their trikes to the park rather than pedaling after Dora and Diego on this thing. I can definitely appreciate that opinion.