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Samantha Turnbull Writer, mother, anti-princess

Barbie

‘Boys are stronger than girls’

It’s kind of poignant that it happened over a broken Barbie doll.

I’ve never felt comfortable with those tip-toed, big-breasted, doe-eyed things.

“Mum, can you fix Barbie’s leg?” Libby asked.

The out-of-proportion, impossibly long limb had snapped clean off.

“Sure,” I said. “No problem.”

But it was a problem.

The damn thing just wouldn’t squeeze back into place.

I pushed and shoved and hit at all angles around Barbie’s narrow hips.

“Maybe we need a boy to do it,” Libby said.

I stopped suddenly.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, they’re stronger than girls,” she said.

I was momentarily dumbfounded. In spite of my overzealous efforts to raise a card-carrying feminist, my daughter had somehow come to the conclusion that girls were physically inferior to boys.

“What makes you say that?” I calmly asked.

“They’re bigger than us,” she said.

It was simple enough reasoning and easy for me to counteract.

“We’re all different sizes,” I said. “You’re bigger than your brother.”

“Yeah, but he’s a baby,” Libby said.

“You’re bigger than your friend Archie and he’s four,” I said.

“That’s just one boy,” Libby said. “Most boys are bigger.”

“But bigger doesn’t always mean stronger,” I said.

I thought of her books. Then TV shows. Then the handful of movies she’s seen.

There were no small, physically strong, girl characters I could quickly think of.

Then, the Barbie’s leg popped into place.

“You did it, Mum!” Libby said.

Our conversation ended, but I wasn’t satisfied.

I did a bit of research into girls v boys in the strength stakes.

The articles I read seemed to back up Libby’s theory. The ‘average’ boy is stronger than the ‘average’ girl generally due to a combination of size and hormones.

However, the difference isn’t usually too noticeable until puberty hits. So, Libby really shouldn’t be thinking of herself as weaker than her boy friends. They’re just pre-schoolers.

Puberty and hormones aside, I ignored the ‘averages’ and went to Libby’s room to re-start the chat.

“You know, girls can do anything boys can,” I said. “Girls can be just as strong and have just as big, or even bigger, muscles.”

Libby nodded.

“OK,” she said. “I’m strong aren’t I?”

I laughed as she flexed a little bicep.

“Yes, you are,” I said.

“Can you fix Barbie?” she asked.

I don’t know how it broke again.

Maybe Libby is too strong for her own good.

Or maybe Barbies just aren’t made very well.

* Linking with Essentially Jess for I Blog on Tuesdays.

9 responses to “‘Boys are stronger than girls’”

  1. Renee Wilson says:

    What a great conversation with your daughter. I think we can try as hard as we like to raise our kids in a certain way, but all of those outside influences can sometimes easily unravel our hard work. I can not stand the way Barbies look these days. Their eye make up is horrendously hooker-like …

  2. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me says:

    My daughter often says we should “wait for daddy” because I often say that when I can’t be fugged doing it for her. BUT when I have the time she is DUMBFOUNDED with what a mum can do. I’ve just started spouting that women can do anything that a man does! x

  3. Tegan says:

    A friend (who is the same age as me) is always posting statuses on facebook about how she needs a man because she can’t open a jar or something equally stupid and I just want to scream at her. Mr 4 is always asking his father to fix things but that’s because he’s handy with his hands, I think sometimes kids just think in more simple terms than we do.

  4. Denise Mooney says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing such a lovely (and important) conversation with your daughter. We all need to make sure kids get this message! Girls can do anything boys can. #teamIBOT xx

  5. EssentiallyJess says:

    I’ve actually put on birthday invitations before ‘please no barbies.’ But that was because my kids didn’t play with them and they just took up space. 🙂
    It’s funny how kids think. Mine have never said boys are stronger than girls, but if I can’t fix something, they will suggest we get Daddy to try, and I agree because then I can stop fighting with it. 🙂

  6. floodproofmum says:

    A lovely post. Great conversation with your daughter. I loved my barbies and dressing them up. My daughter grew up with Bratz dolls but she also had matchbox cars too 🙂

  7. Janet aka Middle Aged Mama says:

    It’s funny how kids pick up these biases and prejudices from such a young age. Glad to hear you are helping your girl discover and explore her own strengths – inner and outer!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT xxx

  8. Zanni Louise says:

    It’s so weird…Elka has a barbie (no idea where it came from) and it’s leg broke off this morning. We had a very similar conversation! I ended up doing a very dodgy job of taping it together with sticky tap. I also was going to ask you about ways to talk about Barbie. I tell Elka I don’t like Barbie, and when she asks why, I can’t say exactly.

    • Samantha says:

      I also tell Libby I don’t like Barbie… it will probably make for a separate post, but I don’t actually ‘ban’ anything, I just don’t buy them… Barbies and Disney princesses infiltrate on birthdays etc and that’s fine enough… but I make it known to Libby that I don’t like them and it’s up to her whether she wants to like them… I tell her I don’t like Barbie because she doesn’t look like a real girl and that I think there are more interesting toys to play with – that’s as far as I get at the moment!

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