In this day and age, the media constantly feeds our children images and ideals of the impossible. It can be very frustrating as a parent seeing your daughter idolize these messages. You want what is best for your child, but you also want to give your daughter what she wants. You may be worried that Barbie dolls are sending her a negative message about body image, or that Bratz dolls wear too much makeup and are dressed much too provocatively. You might also be worried about accidentally imprinting your daughter with “gender roles” that no longer hold true in modern society. As parents, it can be hard to know what to do about these situations.
Your daughter will most likely want dolls at one point in her childhood. You might not have a problem with dolls in general, but you don’t want to give her trashy-looking dolls that give her unrealistic ideas about what her body ought to look like. The best option seems to be to give her a child a doll that already looks like her, instead of a doll she should set out to look like. Enter the 18-inch doll. These dolls have body shapes like older children or young teens, are not decked out in a pound of makeup, and can be dressed however you want them to be dressed. The most popular 18-inch doll is the American Girl doll, but they can be very pricey. In response to this, Target has created its own doll that is the same size and is similar, called the Our Generation doll. Emily Rose, an up-and-coming toy brand, sells 18-inch dolls and many different types of clothes to fit them as well. Their clothing is all interchangeable.
It seems to be an automatic response to buy your daughter toy kitchens, princess toys, fluffy and frilly pink things and little babies with strollers they should ‘care for.’ But is that really what she wants? What message are we sending to young girls if their lives are being formed out of ideas that she must grow up and aspire to be nothing but a housewife? Nothing against housewives at all – mothers are some of the most respected and overworked people in the world! – but if your daughter wants to grow up to be an astronaut, why not let her? The most important thing here is to buy what your daughter is interested in. Avoiding buying what you think she should like, but rather get her what she likes. If she wants princess toys, then great! But if she wants trucks and dinosaurs, she should have those toys. Don’t try to force your daughter into a mold she doesn’t want to conform to. Books with different themes and styles are a good way to support her developing personality and to “feel out” her interests.
Lastly, don’t forget the most important thing a developing child with budding interests should have – lots of love and encouragement!