Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Barbie is not broken

Ben's going through a Barbie phase. Mostly, he owns inherited Barbies and Kens who are clothes-less, making our living room look like a toy nudie camp. Ben plays with them pretty actively—as in, he propels them like footballs—and they are missing limbs. I've done my best to reattach them but the arm of the latest Barbie casualty is nowhere to be found.

As I was decluttering the living room the other night, I decided that I was going to toss that Barbie. Ben has a bunch and I wasn't going to wait around for the AWOL arm to turn up. Into the trash she went. (Fun fact: Barbie is not recyclable, I googled.)

As I lay in bed that night, something was bugging me about Barbie in the trash. Why had I decided that she needed to be tossed just because she didn't have an arm? Ben didn't have any issues with her, and she could be a teaching moment. As the parent of a disabled child, I know full well that awesome comes in all varieties, shapes and sizes. And there's been growing awareness of that in our society. For years, I've followed Jen Lee Reeves' writing about her daughter, Jordan, whose left arm stops after the humerus. Jen's blog and the nonprofit the pair started are both named Born Just Right, and two years ago Jordan wrote a book by the same name. I've seen the documentary on The Lucky Fin Project, started by the mom of a daughter with a stunted right hand, on YouTube

These days, there are a couple of Barbies with prosthetic legs. One mom who founded the nonprofit A Doll Like Me makes limb-different dolls, among other kinds. 

It was just so wrong to throw out limb-different Barbie.

I got out of bed, removed her from the trash and put her back in the doll basket. Last weekend, when Ben was playing with her, I talked a bit about her arms.

Me: "This Barbie has one arm."
Ben: "Yes, I losted the arm."
Me: "Some people have one arm."
Ben: "They losted their arm?"
Me: "Sometimes they were born with one arm. Or they were born with part of one arm. Sometimes people have one leg or part of one leg, too." 

At this point, I googled "limb different" and showed him some photos.

Me: "See? There are lots of types of bodies."
Ben: "Can I lose my arm?"
Me: "Some of these people were born this way. It is called being limb-different. A limb is your arm or leg."
Ben: [Ponders the photos.]
Me:  "Those kids can do lots of stuff that you can! They can get dressed by themselves, play with toys, hold ice-creams and ride bikes. They do things their way, like Max does."
Ben: "Can I have chocolate milk?"

And so that discussion was done for then, but it will continue. Limb-different Barbie remains part of the gang, tossed around like any other doll and equally adored. 

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful lesson you taught Ben. Barbie is indeed not broken!


Thanks for sharing!

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