Two weeks after the Barbie Malibu House arrived my 8yo decided it had to go. ‘It’s too pink!’ she complained. I am inclined to agree, so I offered to find a new home for it, but four weeks on and she has changed her mind. It is the ‘pink corner’ in her bedroom. Her friends like to play when they come round and she and her brother have actually been getting up early to play with it before school.
I have to admit it is the kind of toy I wanted, but never had as a child. I can see why my Dad got cross when trying to put together the Sindy house for my Christmas present in 1984. I can see why he took it back to the shop before Christmas and chose something less plastic and flimsy instead, this toy is everything I rally against as a parent. But…sometimes I guess it is important to look beyond adult perceptions and concepts like pink stinks, stereotypes, plastic fantastic and engage with kid culture more deeply.
Barbie can be a great place to explore representations, stereotypes and ideas about the world.
Watching my kids play with this I can see:
They often use Amercian accents when playing, so they associate physical representations like this with Amercian TV show representations perhaps, there is already a sense of removed reality. There is definitely evidence of them playing with representations they are given in the media already. My daughter wanted to talk about why the dolls are so ‘showy’ and what that means to her.
When they play with the dolls there are a lot of stereotypes in evidence that they pick up from watching Mum and Dad, not from the dolls themselves.
They recreate TV shows, I overheard them playing Scooby Doo yesterday.
They introduce characters from other playsets, to create new possibilities in the house.
They enjoy exploring the fantasy element, dream home, flashy wardrobe, just like the rest of us.
But, most of all, they are most interested in the characters going to the toilet.
So you will probably be wanting a tour?
The house has a large double bed.
There is a dining area with play food
The bathroom is an endless source of entertainment.
There is a spiral staircase and it should magically lift Barbie up or down for a dramatic entrance, it doesn’t always work. But mine were too busy pretending to run up the stairs to the toilet to notice this feature.
It is an imposing residence, as you can see. It was assembled very quickly, the kids did it themselves, with some input from us.
Ken spent most of his time on the toilet or arguing with Barbie about who’s turn it was.
My daughter kept making Barbie look after baby, so I suggested at least Ken could make himself useful and wash up, make dinner and put some washing on.
The Barbie Malibu House RRP £99.99 but also currently available online at several retailers for £69.99.
If you like the idea of a Barbie house, but don’t have the room, why not have a look how we got on with the Barbie Glam Camper it also has plenty of scope for collaborative play.