Why Barbie can never be a mom
Updated On: Dec 18 2013 11:00:00 PM EST
Almost every little girl remembers the joy of getting a new Barbie for Christmas.
The anticipation starts during shopping trips where the glow of pink in the Barbie aisle seems to radiate from yards away.
[WEB EXTRA: Tour of Barbie collection]
On Christmas morning, the plastic packaging and ties keeping Barbie held to the cardboard seem like a fortress. But as soon as she’s released from that fortress, Barbie becomes whatever a child wants her to be.
Barbie has been a teacher, a fashion model, a nurse, a doctor, an astronaut and even president. But one thing Mattel has never envisioned for Barbie is the job of motherhood.
Local 6 started looking into the many professions of Barbie when anchor Lauren Rowe’s youngest daughter started making her Christmas list.
Livia, a vivacious 4-year-old, wanted a special doll house for her Barbies. This dollhouse wasn’t the typical pink, plastic dream house made by Mattel, but a more traditional looking house that was "Barbie-sized."
Among the rooms was a nursery for a Barbie baby, which posed a problem: Barbie is technically not married and, technically, she can never have a baby.
“They don't want her to have a baby. They don't want to tarnish the image of Barbie at all,” said Robin Goglas, a Barbie collector from Clermont.
Goglas has more than 2,500 Barbies in her collection, including a No. 1 Barbie worth around $7,000.
Among the holiday Barbies, the Barbie Christmas tree and the vintage Barbies dressed in vintage clothes was a set of "Happy Family’"dolls that have since been discontinued by Mattel.
From about 2002 to 2005, little girls like Livia who wanted to play mommy with their Barbies could get a Midge doll as a substitute.
According to Goglas, Midge married Alan who was Ken’s best friend and eventually the two started a family. Midge was sold as a pregnant doll with a baby in her belly and Alan came in a a set with their son, Ryan.
But Walmart didn’t like the idea of having a pregnant doll, especially one that looked so young on its shelves, so Mattel made a special version just for the retail giant that had Midge with a newborn baby in tow.
Eventually the Happy Family line expanded to include a grandmother and grandfather doll as well. But for some reason Mattel decided to stop selling the line.
When we reached out to Mattel about the line and the idea of Barbie as a mom, the company sent back a very brief statement.
“The 2002 line of 'Happy Family Dolls' first introduced girls to Barbie’s family life. Today, Barbie’s family and friends continue to be a strong part of her world -- through products and entertainment platforms,” wrote Rheena Bhansali, acting as a spokeswoman for the toymaker.
Goglas believes that Matel chose Midge to act as the mother doll because motherhood is not what they had intentioned for Barbie.
“I think that's not what Barbie is for. It's for playing this is what I want to be when I grow up,” she said.
At the University of Central Florida, a sociologist has been studying the effects of princess type images on young girls.
Dr. Amanda Anthony, an associate professor at UCF, said Barbie being a career woman who doesn’t need a man or "prince" to paint her life as happily ever after could be a positive thing for young girls.
But, she said the dream world could be taken too literally.
“If you get wrapped up in that in looking up to Barbie as potentially even a role model, then that could create unrealistic expectations,” she said.
As for none of Barbie’s careers being motherhood, Anthony thinks that’s OK, too, because there are other toys for that.
“For Barbie to never have been specifically branded as mom isn't necessarily a negative thing, if you see it as being an alternative,” she said.
Goglas agreed that other toys can fill that role. But what they can’t fill is the Barbie-sized dollhouse that Livia will be getting underneath the Christmas tree.
But maybe that’s OK, too. When asked why she liked Barbie so much, Livia gave her mom a simple three-word answer.
“Because she’s pretty.”