Power On: How toys take empowerment to much needed level

It wasn’t that long ago that toys were just toys, and they hardly were overanalyzed to the point that you can’t have an action figure, doll or board game without some sort of opinion that goes well beyond its cost.

Do toys promote violence? Perhaps some.

Are toys marketed too much from an old fashioned, antiquated perspective? Seems like that is valid.

Those two examples have been addressed in some form or fashion by toy makers such as Hasbro and Mattel, specifically the latter about how toys are marketed. Today, you’ll see a boy in a Barbie commercial and genders truly being irrelevant as far as who can play with what toy.

Integrated toys is a perfect example of how toys are no longer forgettable pieces of plastic that parents buy but rather a central point of discussion from advocates to reviewers alike.

The same could be said for one of the more iconic toys of our generation: Barbie.

She (yes, I’m referring to Barbie as a person) often is criticized for being too flippant and not career oriented and caring more about looks and shopping rather than being an all encompassing motivator to kids around the world.

For some, that is a bit of a stretch. They’ll always look at Barbie as a toy and nothing more, and refuse to believe that her existence as Malibu Barbie is going to influence an entire generation to only care about spray tans and sports cars.

But kids have always been very impressionable, and toys play a role in that, so the arrival of a multitude of Barbie dolls that aren’t just about hair brushes and mirrors as accessories is hardly surprising.

In fact, it is much appreciated and needed, truthfully.

The latest Barbie offshoot is Game Developer Barbie. No, that is not a misprint by any means.

This Barbie is exactly what this initiative should be: a toy that is taking itself seriously and reminds little girls (and boys) that Barbie can do whatever she wants and isn’t just about her dollhouse vanity and cruising around town with Ken.

In this scenario, Game Developer Barbie wears the pants in that relationship. She’s smart, capable and comes with a laptop, glasses and a headset, letting any child who buys this Barbie that being successful knows no boundaries based on gender.

If Game Developer Barbie assures one girl that being a computer programmer is feasible and not a man’s game, then the toy has done its due diligence as being more than just a plastic doll in a box.

Ironically, this Barbie thinks outside the box, which is where today’s toys should be.


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