My almost five-year-old daughter has become a little more interested in Barbie recently and has discovered the Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse series on Netflix. At first, I didn’t mind too much that she selected this to watch, but after paying closer attention to the show I have to admit that not only would I prefer my impressionable daughter watch something else, I’m also fairly disappointed in the brand as a whole.
How can a company who has been trying to portray this long beloved doll in a more positive, modern light produce a television program that is shallow and sexist?
It’s quite contradictory if you ask me. While Barbie is coming out with a line of career dolls, such as a doctor, pilot or scientist, as well as having campaigns like You Can Be Anything, empowering girls to be whatever they dream of, the brand also makes a show that portrays Barbie as selfish, materialistic and only worried about her looks. Not to mention having friends and a rival who is just as shallow, manipulative and self-centred as the rest.
In the particular episode my daughter was tuning in to, Barbie was trying to think of a gift idea for Ken, to which her little sister suggested a tiara. That response was met with a sexist generalization of what boys like, deeming a tiara an unfit gift for Ken because boys only like “action movies, video games, and sports cars.” Needless to say, I made my daughter pick something else to watch on Netflix.
As a parent, I find this show to be a terrible example to both my daughter and my son since in my honest opinion the characters are not good role models. I’m trying to teach my children about kindness, giving to others, equality and that there is more to life than material things, all things I find Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse is lacking.
I’m happy to expose my kids to the more positive image Barbie has marketed recently in their dolls and was even considering getting my daughter her first Barbie for her upcoming birthday. However, this mama is officially boycotting Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse from the list of shows her children will watch.