She came to play. Barbie knows best

There are few toys that truly stand the test of time. From Lego to Slinky to Mr. Potato Head, when it comes to toys that can hold the attention and adoration of generations of children, few are more iconic than Barbie dolls.

While Barbie has received some rather harsh criticism in recent years because of her proportions and ever changing career path, there’s just something about her that keeps her both relevant and revelatory. Her smile, her outfits, her dream house, her hair – oh that HAIR! Barbie’s got the kind of charisma that equates to endurance in the world of child’s play.

While many generations can recall playing with Barbie dolls as young girls, the modern landscape of play is very different from the one 50, 15 of even just 5 years ago. Today’s toy store shelves are full of dolls that rebel against the leggy, blond-haired, blue-eyed bombshell that once dominated the market.

Today, some of Barbie’s stiffest competition on the shelves comes from products like Monster High dolls; vampy teen personas based on popular literary monsters like Dracula with an updated twist. They don’t boast luscious locks of beautiful blond hair — instead their mops are streaked with neon pink and green and their wardrobes regularly feature the punked-out styling of skulls and short skirts.

What’s most interesting about the modern marketplace of children’s dolls is the simple fact that it’s still around. Even as technology-based toys with bells, whistles and motherboards began to flood the market, dolls have stood their ground.

Barbie’s power lies in what she represents to young girls. Her world is and always has been one which indulges imagination. Sure there are accessories like the house and the car and Skipper and Ken, but the premise of their story is entirely up to the child. Any situation, any adventure, any pursuit or passion can be explored and realised through the fantasy world that Barbie opens up. She’s never angsty or rebellious, she’s content and fun, she lives her life the way she wants to and she always has.

While Barbie has seen her fair share of competitors come and go over the years, the fact that she remains relevant, and the standard against which all other dolls are measured against says something about her power. More than just a fashion doll as she was originally introduced some 54 years ago, Barbie taps into something special among young girls and conjures the most nostalgic of memories among women who have long since parted ways with old B.

What the future holds no one can be sure of. Children are more mature and informed than ever and at some point their tastes in play may change. That may be so, but Barbie’s charisma is undeniable and enduring. Even in her 50s, she’s still living the dream and won’t likely be going anywhere anytime soon.

Fay Bradley is a part-time sales assistant and mum of three. She’s also a lifelong lover of Barbie and can’t resist joining in when her girls get their dolls out!

You can download some fabulous Barbie printables from the Barbie website. Below is my favourite one from Barbie as a Mermaid

File Size: 801 kb
File Type: pdf

Download File

Please see my Disclosure page for more information about this post.