When I was a kid, if you had asked me what I wanted for Christmas, chances are good that I  would have said “a Barbie.”  I could have sat on Santa’s lap and given that request, and he would have known what I hoped was under the tree.

Life is not that simple any more.

According to the Barbie ad in O Magazine, Barbie is now sold in eight skin tones, 14 different facial sculpts (whatever that is!), 18 eye colors, 20 hair styles, and 23 hair colors.  

While I applaud the ability for girls to have a doll that resembles them, what is lost is the universal nature of the toy.  When I was growing up, my Barbie looked just like my friends’ Barbies and we created our personalization through clothes, accessories or just the stories we made up about them.  One Barbie was enough, because who needed two of the same toy?  Now you could replicate a whole classroom or office with different Barbie dolls.

Barbie still has a host of critics who lash out against her unrealistic figure and ability to stand on ridiculously disproportionate high heels.  But at least, even with her myriad options, she is still non-electronic and powered only by imagination.

This holiday, whether it is Barbie or other toys, be a doll and give the kids on your list gifts that have no plugs.

— beth triplett

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