My 5-year old daughter recently said to her 3-year old brother, "When you are 10, you get a cell phone, and when you are 16, you get a boyfriend. Right mommy?" My son responded, "I'll never have a boyfriend." (Is that a good thing? Can't handle it right now …)
Meanwhile, there was my darling daughter looking at me in the car rear view mirror — anxiously awaiting a response.
5-year old: 1. Mommy: zero. The right answer: priceless.
What I said: "You can get cell phones, boyfriends and anything else when you are able to handle the responsibility that goes with them." 5-year old: 1. Mommy: 2 (because I think that answer gets a bonus, don't you?!)
So when I heard about the new Barbie We Believe In Girls campaign, I was excited. Centered around helping girls enjoy childhood, Barbie is on a mission to stop girls from growing up too fast. In perusing the website, I was impressed by the content (including videos) and the forum that allows people to express their opinions about things like age-appropriate clothing, make-up, the media and family values. Take a look at the videos here.
Where are the boys?
It's great for girls and their parents to encourage and build up girls and promote family values. But families are not just girls. For example, I also have a son (and a nephew and two brothers, and a husband (who has two brothers), and lots of friends with lots of sons — all of whom are influencing my daughter and each other), but none of them are invited into Barbie's very pink discussion forum. (In fact, the first topic on the forum says, "We think that girls rule." If I were a boy, I probably wouldn't hang around long, and I wouldn't exactly be inspired to say nice things about my sister.)
Like Barbie, I am all for Girl Power. We have tremendous influence in our homes and communities. We are beautiful and fun. When we put our minds to it, we can do anything we set out to do. We are natural nurturers. We are creative. We can do 15.75 things at one time. All good, but there's a fine line between asserting our fabulousness and risking diminishing the boys who will one day show up at the front door asking to take our daughters to the prom. After all, if girls are running around in thong bikinis and pouty lip stick looking like prostitots in part to be accepted by boys, shouldn't we go the extra mile to encourage and empower boys to help change that?
Ken may not be on toy shelves anymore, but I think he deserves to be specifically invited to have a say. Surf on over to the forum to have a look around and contribute your thoughts ‘n things.
And Barbie, speaking of cell phones, give Ken a call and invite him to the party. You might be informed and inspired by what he has to say.
PS: Girl Powered minds think alike! In her quest to crown girls rulers of the universe (or something), Barbie is consulting with Leslie Morgan Steiner, a journalist and guest on Indie Business Radio.