The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Down Syndrome Barbie

What could be more natural than a girl having a doll she can dress up and accessorise and dream of becoming? Or is Barbie a very narrow, if not impossible ideal of beauty, which only reinforces the dissatisfaction girls and women have with their own looks and body shape? And is the idea of creating dolls with particular physical conditions a good or a bad thing?

Over on 5 Minutes for Special Needs, I begin to explore these ideas. Your thoughts, opinions and contributions to the debate would be appreciated.

So if you have 5 minutes to spare, do take a look at Down Syndrome Barbie.

And if there are comments you desperately want to express that would not be suitable there, feel free to leave them here :)


Ronnie said...

Fuck you Kim, you've made me start thinking again.

PI said...

I have spent many a happy hour playing with my grand-daughters' Barbie dolls -long after they themselves were bored with them and your piece has flummoxed me.
No-one knows better than the parent themselves what is or is not appropriate, except perhaps the children themselves.
To my mind a barbie doll bears little resemblance to a real person in any case. I think I'd have to do an audience research with the children, both with and without Down's Syndrome.
I need to know what you think.

The Hangar Queen said...

I have to come down on the side of not digging the DS doll.One of comments on the other site mentioned that it would be a little too much reality.

Having three boys I've not had to deal with the Barbie thing...well..not with them anyway :)but I do see them letting their imaginations off the chain with the action figures and toys they do have.None of which were bought with appearance considerations admittedly.

There are no limits to their imaginations so I think I'd just shut up and listen.

Sini said...

I can only guess as I do not have children. But I suspect I would not like it. Of course if the child liked the doll, she/he can have it, but I wouldn't buy a doll only because it mirrors his/her condition.

That is what I think now. I do not know how I will react if I did have children.

Charlie said...

Just a note to say that was another great thinking post, but I have no experience to express an opinion.

Other than I think your daughter is beautiful, doll or not.

Kim Ayres said...

Ronnie - well if you will insist on having an open mind, this kind of thing will happen every now and again. You only have yourself to blame.

Pat - what's wonderful about you joining the debate, is you did actually grow up to become a model. Were there ever any "Pat" dolls made?

My own feelings on the matter are basically, buying a DS doll as a gift is emphasising that aspect of the child. Yes my daughter, Meg, has DS, but it is only one aspect of who she is, and certainly not the defining one. If someone were to give her such a doll, I would worry the person had not been able to see past the DS to the girl she is. However, I'm prepared to accept other people will feel differently about this

Hangar Queen - but I'd love to know what your thoughts were about Barbie and the like when you were younger.

Sini - I don't think your feelings would change that much - it's primarily about seeing your child as a child rather than as a condition

Charlie - I appreciate you letting me know you read the post(s) :)

Ronnie said...

Thats not fair, I've never been accused of having an open mind before.

PI said...

Happily - no!
Unless someone made a wax one to stick pins in:)

Kim Ayres said...

Ronnie - it's a dangerous thing having an open mind. Not only can stuff get in, but an awful lot falls out too. Or is that just age?

Pat - Well you could always try here or here

The Hangar Queen said...

No interest whatsover.That's really puzzled people who assumed that because I was the way I was that I should somehow have secretly craved Barbie/Sindy and Bunty (For fuck's sake).Then again I had no interest in boy stuff either.If a toy did not have wings or rotors I just wasn't interested.I was Queen of the Matchbox/Airfix Continuum.

Kim Ayres said...

So had there been a "Mechanic" Barbie, with overalls and a tool box, it might have grabbed your attention more :)

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