Let’s talk body image… Not just your own but your little ones’ too. I’m a mother of girls. The way I love and value myself is the way they will value and love themselves. It’s a hard truth that I have had to learn but thankfully the lesson came early and the solution could be handled in a fun manner. Thanks to some help from an old, childhood friend…
It all started with a theme at school, “I am special”.
It’s a classic and one most little ones enjoy. I mean, what kid doesn’t like hearing how unique and awesome they are… This year however, Eliana came home a little disappointed. At 1st she didn’t want to talk about it but soon she admitted that she didn’t like this particular theme at all. She didn’t like the way everyone started to notice each other’s difference and she especially hated the fact that she was different. And not in a “we all have something else to offer” kind of way but rather in a “you don’t look like us” scenario. More specifically, she wanted to know “why she was the only girl with curly hair”. Why can’t she have beautiful, long straight hair like most of her friends? No one likes curly hair…
This instantly broke my heart. We love Eliana’s gorgeous curls and want her to know how pretty she is. Not because outward appearance is everything but rather because we know confidence is key and everyone deserves to have a healthy body image. Nothing I said could change her mind, especially after she called me out for straightening my own hair almost daily. Yes, I’d been schooled by my 6 year old,(yet again).
I realized words would be lost. Action needed to be taken. But how?
As fate would have it I attended Barbie’s 59th birthday a few weeks ago too. It was such a wonderful event with guest speaker Sureshnie Rider inspiring all of us to love our families more and the local Mattel team celebrating woman!
It was a very informative morning and we got a peek into the South African devision of this global brand. Being an avid supporter of always buying local, I was so impressed to hear that most of the Barbie garments available in SA, actually also gets made right here in Durban. From the designs used, fabric sourced, printed and clothing pieces made. And almost 80% of the team consists of woman!
We also got a 1st glimpse into some new products being released soon.
And I was introduced to the fashionista range.
In 2015, in a bid to provide girls all over the world with role models who looked just like them, Barbie broke boundaries when she hit shelves in a variety of skin tones and hair textures. This was closely followed by different body types in 2016, to better represent a more varied and authentic reality. The stereotype-shattering Fashionista range now includes four body types (the original and three new shapes – petite, curvy, and tall), seven skin tones, 22 eye colours, 24 hairstyles and countless on-trend fashions and accessories.
Developed to showcase Barbie in every race, ethnicity, body shape, hair and eye colour. A Barbie that looks like the little girl playing with her. Still beautiful and fashionable but unique in her own way. The aim of these dolls are to celebrate beauty in diversity, promoting acceptance and a positive body image.
Girls across the globe can now choose to play with a Barbie who looks just like them, or create a group of friends who is more like their own group of friends at school.
Could a doll really do all of this?
Maybe, maybe not. If so, it would be Barbie. I remember playing with Barbie as a little girl, imagining places far off, doing the impossible and smashing goals. If only I had a brunette Barbie… Maybe if Eliana saw a beautiful, curly haired Barbie she could learn to accept and love her pretty curls. It was definitely worth a try…
We found Eliana the most curly haired Barbie available (and Lia couldn’t be left out so we needed a short, straight haired doll too).
At first the girls were impressed, excited about receiving a gift even though it was no-ones birthday and also for getting a Barbie! (Eliana and Lia have only recently joined the Barbie fan club thanks to some friends at school). After a little play Eliana came over to talk to me. She wanted to know if her Barbie was a “real Barbie”?
Thankfully, I know our Eli and I was prepared.
I had a mirror handy (with some fun makeup-because this was a “big girl moment” and I wanted Eliana to remember it forever). We looked at her eyes, her skin, her smile and of course her hair. Lia joined in the fun, so did Barbie and I. We spoke about how different we all looked and how cool that was. I asked the girls which Barbie was the prettiest and after a long, very indecisive conversation we came to the conclusion that both Barbies were in fact beautiful and so were we.
We just need to “own” who we are and never forget the strength that lies in our uniqueness. The girls continued to paint their nails, “do their faces” and a simple afternoon of play actually resulted in a wonderful bonding experience for all of us.
I introduced Eliana to some of my favourite hair care products ideal for curly, dry and damaged hair. Together we now do coconut oil hair masks, apply Moroccan oil, brush our hair with a detangling comb. I also only straighten on occasion, even preferring curls. We are learning to take care of our hair and Eliana loves and takes pride in her “Barbie hair”.
I’m not saying Barbie solved the problem. I’m sure there will be many more bad hair day dramas in our future but she definitely helped us resolve this one and even reignited my own inner Barbie girl. #BarbieFanReborn How can I not support a brand that celebrates the power of imaginative play, and empowers children – especially young girls – to dream big.
Video and Event photos and graphics courtesy of Mattel.