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11/18/15

Dolled up: Why new Barbie commercial is long overdue

I played with Barbie's when I was a kid, circa 1985 or so There, I said it, and it wasn't that big of a deal then. And, it certainly isn't now.
I had a younger sister, and we played with them all the time. We would take turns playing with our respective toys. I had a slew of World Wrestling Federation (now Entertainment) wrestlers. These larger than life rubber wrestlers were all the rage in the mid 1980s, and Barbie has always been a staple, and my sister had what seemed like every Barbie every made, dream house included, cars and anything else that made Barbie, well, Barbie.
I was six year old in 1985 and my sister was five, and I never once even then thought it was weird or awkward to play with "dolls," much the same way my sister was totally fine playing with "action figures."
That's probably why I'm not overly shocked or blown away at the news of the Barbie brand releasing its first commercial that features a boy in it.
Truth be told, that seems long overdue.

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For years, toys always were gender specific, at least most of them. But it wasn't as if girls never played with G.I. Joe or boys didn't partake in anything that wasn't "boy related." The issue was more about how toys were marketed, and that is more about commercials or toy catalogs, more so than what kids were interested in at any given time in history as it pertains to toys.
Today's child doesn't have to be saddled with stereotypes or pigeon holed into being told exactly what they should be asked to play with or to have purchased for them by their parents.
Instead, if a little girl wants to play with Captain America, then so be it. If she wants to tackle Thor or be Iron Man for Halloween, let her.
If a little boy wants to play with Barbie, or so called girl specific toys, then what is the big deal? There isn't one, and that's why this commercial, while groundbreaking in some respects because it has never been done, shouldn't be viewed as the exception.
Now, it's the rule, and should have been a long time ago.
You can't make up for lost time, and those kids, like me, in the 1980s who played with Barbie's alongside their sister or other girls, similar to what is portrayed in this commercial, grew up to be open minded parents who see a boy in a "girl" commercial and barely bat an eye.
And that's exactly how it should be.

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