Monday, 26 August 2013

Who are you really, Barbie?

I have not thought about Barbie for a long time, but I do remember many happy days playing with my Barbies (Barbie driving my scooter truck, in a cave in the sandpit, multiple costume changes throughout the day), so it's strange how uncomfortable I've become with the idea of her recently. The charm and appeal of the sickly pink and perfect blond Barbie has been washed away as an adult and I can't help but look at her now and think: why does she have to have such big boobs when her target market is prepubescent girls?

Barbie is more than just a doll; she's an ideal and little girls the world over think of her as beautiful. Maybe that's why she bothers me so much now; she represents a narrow, thin, plastic definition of beauty. There is no attempt to make her more realistic or even remotely child-like. I look at her now and think she's a beauty ideal loaded with societal pressures and inserted far too early into childhood. Teenagers don't want Barbies, little girls do. Something doesn't seem to match up.

I'm not against playing dress-up or putting on "lipstick" for fun, but at the age when little girls want Barbies, beauty is so much more than what she can offer: perfect hair, a mask of make-up, a completely unrealistic body. Beauty is intertwined with being funny and playful and imaginative. There are many ways to be beautiful and as we grow older, we seem to forget that and along the way beauty becomes so characterless and bland. I really love this Dove ad "When did you stop thinking you're beautiful?" and think it makes this point so well.

The other day, the kid managed to get a handful of hair into a hairband. Very pleased with herself, she said to me "Mama, I'm so pretty." I had to smile at her child-like, innocent confidence and agree (but then I always think she looks beautiful). I dread the day that the world tells her otherwise and unfortunately, I know it will because as she grows, the definition of what is beautiful will keep getting narrower.

So now I look at Barbie with new eyes. She's not just a doll to me anymore and I have to wonder, can't we offer little girls something better, something more real?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Dear neglected blog

Life has a habit of getting in the way of creative outlets (with me anyway). Life crops up at moments set aside for writing. Life demands attention. Life generally ignores my to-do lists and plans. Life comes along (sometimes cheerful, sometimes limping) and distracts me with its whims. That's life I suppose.

One of the things that did get done, was returning overdue books to the library and taking Come away from the water, Shirley out. I love this book. It's about Shirley and her parents who take a trip to the beach. Her parents set up deckchairs and settled down for a relaxing time doing nothing, while Shirley sets off on an adventure fighting pirates and retrieving treasure. I love the way the mundane adult world of her parents' warnings and comments to Shirley ("Don't get your shoes dirty" or "Don't throw the stones too high or you'll hurt someone") is contrasted with the child's all-enveloping, imaginative world of adventure and fun.

It kind of reminded me of my life. I say boring things like "It's bath time" or "if you don't brush your teeth they'll fall out",  while the kid is off fighting monsters and holding people so small you can't see them in her hands.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

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Friday, 9 August 2013

Night market

Yesterday evening I bundled up the kid to meet friends for supper at the Night Market at the Docklands Hotel. I've been to the market when its been at other venues around Durban, so was keen to see what it was like here.

The point area between the harbour and the beach is a strange, incoherent landscape of almost surreal contrasts, especially at night. Behind ruinous, old building facades with their patchwork of broken windows, the harbour cranes tower into the night sky like metal giants. Then you get to the market, which is tucked away in the courtyard of the Docklands Hotel, enchanting under its own starry sky of fairy lights. It's definitely worth a visit next time! So much fun.

Happy Women's Day everyone in South Africa!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Weekend moments

There was just something about this weekend... maybe just a sudden flush of summer warmth, glasses of wine and coffees shared with friends, maybe a couple of things ticked off the to-do list, I don't know. It just deserves to be captured and kept for the coming week! An impromptu dinner out with friends on Friday, some work done and put away, a bit of writing too, surprise out-of-town visitors to breakfast with on Sunday, winter sunlight dripping warmly through the trees as we strolled through the Bulwer Park market, meeting Anthea the Spotted Eagle Owl, a bit of time to read.


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