Barbie’s To-Do List: Lay Tefillin, Pick Up Nobel Prize…

As a Jewish woman who considers herself an ardent feminist, I never know if my (spoken or unspoken) messages to my daughter have registered. And as a mother and grandmother, I try to follow the advice of a friend who has told me the importance of keeping my lips zipped whenever I can contain myself. After all, she says, my grandchildren aren’t my children. But there have been some very nice surprises, as the following suggests.

Prologue: some years ago while shopping for nonsexist toys for my grandkids, now ages 4 (a little boy) and 7 (granddaughter), I noticed a huge display of Barbies at the checkout. Since the young woman taking my money was not my daughter, I felt free to say, “I wish your store wouldn’t sell those.” She replied, “But everyone likes them.” I said, “But no one looks like them! Nobody has bodies like theirs. These dolls are totally false and don’t do anything positive for little girls’ self-images.” Needless to say, no action was taken.

Flash forward: At my granddaughter’s fourth birthday, I noted that she,Tamara, had received three Barbie dolls. If I had been asked, I would have said that they should be returned to the stores where they were purchased.

However, later the same day, I heard my daughter Claire telling Tamara that the reason Barbie was dressed up was that she was on her way to pick up her Nobel Prize in Medicine.

The moral of the story: Our daughters may be listening to us even when we think they aren’t!

–Julia Wolf Mazow, writer and Lilith regular

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8 comments on “Barbie’s To-Do List: Lay Tefillin, Pick Up Nobel Prize…

  1. Sue Repko on

    I sympathize with Julia Wolf Mazow’s Barbie observations. I recall my older sister refusing to buy Barbies for her young daughter and asking us to refrain from giving them. I do, however, have one fond Barbie memory from my own girlhood. While the typical “playing with dolls” experience did involve dressing up those skinny mannequins (whose leg:torso ratio is all out of whack) and matching them up with their hunky boyfriends, my greatest thrill came when I received a much-anticipated Barbie Pop-up Camper as a holiday gift. With the smell of fresh plastic filling my bedroom, I got out of my small town and hit the road in this groovy RV, if only in my imagination. It represented freedom from the restrictions of all those other stereotypes which I, as a “tomboy” and budding athlete, was quick to oppose.

    A few years ago, I received from my two sons a WNBA Barbie (WNBA = Women’s National Basketball Association). She hangs out with me while I’m writing at my desk. She actually looks something like a real player with those long legs, although she’s a little knock-kneed. She comes with a hoop and ball and, dare I say, the uniform and warm-up jacket are kind of cute!

  2. Lenora Noroski on

    …more on the spectrum of Barbies and empowering ourselves, our children and our infinite generations…
    In fact, a “Barbie” did receive a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine! – Barbara McClintock (1902-1992) was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983 for her discovery of transposable genes (yes, genes move around) – not the thinking in the 1940-1950s when she described this through her genetic experiments in maize – however, this was later proven/confirmed through molecular technology available by 1970-1980s. A Cornell doctoral grad (in Agriculture at Ithaca in 1927) who then initiated and uncovered new findings in the new field of genetics, “Barbie” subsequently became the first American woman to win an unshared Nobel. Barbara McClintock is one of my forever inspirations for life. Although I was never attracted to the doll, I have been most intriguied by the scientist. I feel connected to Dr. McClintock and would have loved to have met her to hear her share her passionate drive for the process of her scientific experiences particularly at a time when women in genes (and jeans) were unheard of…not just a “corny” story, but so true!

    Thank you Julia for sharing this life experience – with careful loving and intelligent attention, we can truly tap our most meaningful and indelible learning and teaching moments through our children.

    …from the heart and mind of a mother in pediatric medicine and Cornell alum, Mazel tov Barbies!

  3. Anonymous on

    “Lord, I have a problem!”
    “What’s the problem, Eve?”
    “Lord, I know you’ve created me and have provided this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful animals and that hilarious comedy snake, but I’m just not happy.”
    “Why is that, Eve?” came the reply from above.
    “Lord, I am lonely. And I’m sick to death of apples.” “Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution. I shall create a man for you.”
    “What’s a ‘man,’ Lord?”
    “This man will be a flawed creature, with aggressive tendencies, an enormous ego and an inability to empathize or listen to you properly, he’ll basically give you a hard time. He’ll be bigger, faster, and more muscular than you. He’ll be really good at fighting and kicking a ball about and hunting fleet-footed ruminants, But, he’ll be pretty good in the sack.”
    “I can put up with that,” says Eve, with an ironically raised eyebrow.
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    “What’s that, Lord?”
    “You’ll have to let him believe that I made him first.”
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