If you don’t like something change it…

Posted on: November 19, 2014

We’re not a big Barbie house.  I got my oldest daughter her first Barbie when she turned 8, and it was with much chagrin on my part.  While I didn’t want to get the doll, she really wanted one since her friends had them, and the girls would all take them outside to play.  Now, before you say,  “But, Tiff, you’re the parent!  You make the choice as to which toys your child plays with,” I totally agree with that, and hence why Barbie hadn’t been allowed in our house for the first eight years of my motherhood.  So, after much debate with myself, I agreed to a doll on one condition.  She had to have a job, and Pediatrician Barbie came to live with us.  She was played with on occasion, but tossed to the side for more steadfast toys like the play-kitchen and legos (primary and pastels sets,thank you very much).  I haven’t seem much of Barbie these days.  K is 10 now and still not interested in “fashion dolls”.  B is only 5, but since K isn’t really into those dolls and they aren’t in our toy rotation she doesn’t seem to notice their absence.  My girls tend to like the bigger dolls they can cuddle and carry.  We have a few DVD’s that were gifts years ago, and a game that was free on an old iPad.

Because of the lack of pink in our house, I was kind of surprised by my reaction this morning when my friend, Allie posted an article talking about a new Barbie picture book that is causing waves far and near on the planet.  My first reaction was, what’s the big deal?  It’s just Barbie, this is nothing new.  But then I read it, and I read what intelligent people, men and women were saying about this book.  After wading through the mockery and the whining and the complaining that seems to be attached to EVERYTHING these days, I was irked too by this book.  Not just because Barbie needed help with her project.  Not just because she went to guys for help.  Not just because she was only designing her project but not actually coding it.  No, all of those things bugged me, but the thing that stood out the most for me was how this book made me feel reading it.

Before I continue, let me say that I am 36.  I am the mother of 3, two girls and a boy.  I do not have a college degree, but I have taken some college classes, and I am a certified medical transcriptionist.  I am not this book’s target audience.  However, I had the target audience sitting right next to me on the floor while I was reading the article and thusly the book.

The thing that I couldn’t shake after reading this colorful picture book was that Barbie screws up, doesn’t seem remorseful in the least, gets the help she needs from other classmates, takes all the credit for all the work, and still comes out the hero.  I finished this tome feeling empty, quite honestly.  I didn’t feel happy for Barbie or proud of her.  I didn’t feel like she’d overcome some great obstacle or earned what she got.  No.  Just no. The target audience for this book is 2-7 years old.  What 5 year old is going to have this book read to them and think, “Well, maybe Barbie and the guys are all working on the project together, and her contribution to the group was layout design.”   Or, perhaps, “Barbie really screwed up.  It’s a good thing she has friends that could help her fix everything.  We probably didn’t see the part of the story where they all give the group presentation and she thanks the guys for their help.”

There seems to be a plethora of adult-fueled hatred and mockery for this book available to us grown-ups, but since the little hands that are holding this book, and drinking in it’s message are hopefully many years from being filled with hatred and sarcasm I wanted to edit it to be something I could read to my girls (and boy too, but truth be told he’s into football and Pokemon right now, so he wouldn’t really be interested).  So, with the help of a website that allows you to “fix” pages in this book, I rewrote it.  Nearly every page.  I’ve added a review of this book to Amazon, and it includes an animated video of the pages I changed.  If you like this edit, maybe you’ll head over there and vote up my review.  Maybe you won’t.  Maybe you’ll hate my edit.  I don’t know, but guess what, if you’re over 12, I don’t really care if you like this or not.  Because I held my Target Audience on my lap after I finished the changes and read it to her.  And she loved it, and she wanted me to read it to her again and again.  So I did.

Mattel and Barbie missed an opportunity here to write a great story.  But, I’m not missing that opportunity, and here is my full edit of “I Can Be a Computer Engineer”.

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