As father to my daughter Edie, I’m well aware that when it comes to her play time, I must throw myself into her magical world for her to truly enjoy her time with me. It can’t be a half-hearted grunt of acknowledgement every now and again as I flick through social media on my phone, it has to be all or nothing, and what with her being a young girl, more often than not, any hint of masculinity in me that feebly tries to cling on since becoming a father, has to be ignored.
I’ve had my nails painted (badly), I’ve plaited hair (badly), had my face coated with ghastly make-up (very badly) and dressed in a tutu whilst prancing around the house to terrible cheesy pop (and then I had a daughter – ba dum tshh!). Joking aside, by leaving any hang-ups at Edie’s bedroom door, I want her to feel she might be playing with one of her 4-year-old pals, and not boring old dad. But, the fact that it is me, her dad, hopefully makes it just that extra bit special for her.
Mattel recently launched a new campaign celebrating Dads Who Play Barbie. The emphasis is on the importance of dads immersing themselves into their daughter’s play, with a focus on girls knowing they can be anything they want to be in life, helping them build their confidence and having a more realistic idea of body image. A new range of Barbie dolls allows girls to make up wonderful adventures that includes Barbie the vet, the footballer (sorry, ‘soccer player’), the fashionista, the skateboarder, the paediatrician and many more, but alongside this detour from the classic Barbie image, is the effort to make the dolls represent more realistic women. Body image is a key issue with girls as they grow up, so it can only be a good thing for them to know (even if it’s only subconsciously at this stage), that women come in all shapes and sizes. Tellingly, their fashionista dolls now come with more realistic, curvier bodies. So, if young girls still simply love the traditional ideals of Barbie, such as pretty outfits, make-up and hair, they can still get their fix but without the unrealistic body shape of years past. As well as the updated figures, it’s encouraging to also see the empowering careers and different skin colours available in the new range too.
Edie’s Barbies have been incredibly busy in recent days, throwing themselves (sometime literally if we drop them) into a whole host of exciting situations. They’ve made emergency trips to the vets (see video), they’ve moshed at a local gig (err, Edie on drums and keyboards – a distinctive sound), they’ve taken part in marathons (apparently there was a steep climb to the top of our mantelpiece but the view from the top is to die for) but best of all, one of the fashionista Barbies just became an astronaut and has been to outer space already (not sure she’ll return, she seemed to be hanging out of the space rocket the last I saw – see photo).
As a hands-on dad, I love playing with Edie, whether she chooses to build a den in the sitting room, decorate our faces in glittery make up or live out stories with her Barbies. Whatever we do, I know the importance of immersing myself into her world, so that through play she can grow in confidence and understand, the sky (or even outer space as demonstrated by her Barbie), is the limit.