Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why I Will Never Put on "Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse" Again

    “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse”. Sounds sweet, child friendly, innocent… dreamy. That is what one would think, judging by the title. So, when I asked my two year old niece what she wanted to watch on Netflix and she pointed to this show and said “pretty”, I had no problem with pressing play. Maybe five minutes into the episode, I began to regret that decision. Not being one to judge a book by its cover, I continued to let it play. And then, as requested by my niece, I let the next episode play.
    I have only two words for you, NEVER. AGAIN. And I mean it. It has been over a month since I clicked that show the first time and I have not, and will not, do it again.
    Here is why: I do not want to teach my two year old niece that it is okay to be that materialistic. I do not want her to grow up thinking that you have to have a certain hair color, eye color, kitchen appliance, car or t-shirt to have friends. To have boys like you. To be pretty or to have purpose.   
    Beginning in the first episode, Barbie's "friends" are clearly envious. They show key characters getting make-overs to win the affection of a boy. They show yet another key character buying bigger and "better" gifts for Barbie to win her love. Her friends idolize her and constantly desire more artificial and materialistic items. If they don't have it, they want it, even if they won't use it.
    Do we really need to send this message to our nieces? Our sisters? Our daughters?
    I do understand the points that some people have made on IMDB. I can see how it could possibly be written to be a parody of the Barbie stereotype. However, a two year old little girl would not look at this show and see the irony or how unrealistic it really is. She sees a pretty girl with a boy who makes her happy by giving her things. She sees people trying to win each others friendship, love and affection with artificial and meaningless items. She sees the perfect example of how people SHOULDN'T be, but that they have everything they want, despite going about it in all the wrong ways.
    Rather than putting "Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse" on, next time I will choose Scooby Doo, to teach her and her brother that it doesn't matter whether your a boy or girl, tall or short, fat or skinny, scared or courageous, human or animal. If you work as a team, you can do anything.
    Or, maybe, I will choose Kim Possible. To show that you don't have to fit a stereotype, you can be the pretty cheerleader and be friends with the "nerd" and save the world.
    In fact, I will put either of these or Veggie Tales on willingly. I will gladly play any show that teaches good, valuable life lessons. In fact, no life lesson at all would be better than what Barbie is currently teaching our children.
In the words of Carol B. Hillman, "One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be." And that includes what we allow our television choices to model for them.

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