*Disclaimer: If you’re already preparing to tell me that you grew up playing with Barbies and have had no issues whatsoever with body image, please read the full post with an open mind and try to hear me out. This isn’t a post of judgement, it’s a call to prayerfully consider God’s heart on the subject. I grew up with Barbies, too, and I actually remember thinking that someday I would be “beautiful” like them. I am all grown up and I am far from having a figure like that! I believe that feminine and innocent “dress-up” is much, much healthier for the shaping of a little girl’s heart.
Our four-year-old, Pumpkin, loves to dress-up. She is so enthusiastic that she already has our not-quite-ten-month-old, Babykins, trying to do it! We keep a big stash of dress-up items available, but we are very careful of what we include. Most of it would be considered to be very feminine, and none of it would be considered “sexy”. It breaks my heart to see girls my daughter’s age with words across their rear ends, bikinis and clothes that are cut for seduction. We don’t allow Barbie or any other physically over-developed “dolls” in the house. All dolls are “baby” dolls that encourage nurturing and innocent play, rather than encouraging unhealthy physical ideals with the unrealistically “perfect” body of a Barbie. We also don’t allow any kid’s movies with a scantily clad female (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and other “classics” included). We actually do only a very few carefully selected movies, anyway, but less-than-clothed girls are sure to get a movie tossed out of our house.
Lest this sound like a house of cold, hard rules, let me explain. Anything we allow into our house and expose our children to is seen by them as something that has our approval. How can we hope to raise modest and pure young ladies in a house full of Barbies and half-naked “heroines”?? The girls will identify with and try to emulate any characters and dolls they regularly watch or play with. They will quickly become desensitized to partial nudity of their favorite toys and characters. When their little bodies grow-up and they mature, they will expect and desire to dress like their “heroines”. When their own parents have encouraged their idolization of sexually-themed females, why wouldn’t they want to become a sex symbol?? It’s already been approved and sanctioned by their parents for toys, movies, TV and magazines in their home, so why not them, too??
Instead, why not encourage our girls to be little ladies? We are not a “skirt-wearing” family, but my girls often wear skirts and dresses. They have plenty of shear scarves that they wear as veils, capes, shawls and even baby carriers! Our older daughter has aprons, necklaces, clippies, hats, a tu-tu, purses and even a stunning “princess dress” that her granny made for her! Frilly, feminine, modest and beautiful- can’t you just see the glowing little ladies, now?! As they get older, we’ll change some things, add others… we’ll adapt to their ages and personalities. We’ll remind them often that their beautiful lady-like hearts are the most important thing. It’s fun to feel pretty, but let’s all make sure to teach our sweet little ladies that “pretty” and “sensual” aren’t the same thing.
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