I still have my Barbie doll. It represents hours of happy, imaginative play. I did not develop body image distortion or eating disorder issues. I know why. It was because Barbie’s actions and the way I dressed her were completely in my control. I did not compare my body to hers. (How could I? I was 8.) She compared herself to me. She lived in my house and obeyed my rules.
Reflecting back, I realize I learned a lot by playing with Barbie and from other toys I had.
Storytelling teaches the concepts of character and plot. It builds language, imagination, and sparks an interest in reading.
I couldn’t buy a Barbie house or car, so I had to engineer them myself. I used materials I found around the house. It took perseverance and resourcefulness and I probably developed a few STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) skills. Wow, we doll-players were ahead of our time!
In my imagination, Barbie ran into obstacles that needed solving.
And I ran into difficulties building her housing and transportation. Resourcefulness, flexibility and critical thinking were required.
🗂Organization and Sorting:
Oh the hours I spent organizing and sorting, clothes, shoes, accessories. And figuring out the storage plan, because I was not allowed to leave things out for any length of time.
When I had saved enough of my allowance, I had to make sure I spent it wisely. I had decisions to make. Should I buy authentic Barbie clothes and accessories or make the money go farther by buying knock-offs? Should I buy Barbie’s equipment, or make them myself?
In the words of Fred Rogers, “Play is serious learning." So turn off those devices, and get out the dolls for hours of happy, imaginative play and some good life skills.
I still have my Barbie.
What meaningful childhood toy do you still have?