I was shopping with my five year old when she became transfixed by a Ken doll.
Mama!! Look! She shrieked. It's super cool! It's a talking Ken guy!!
Her reaction surprised me as she's a hardcore Barbie-girl (to my chagrin) & rarely interested in Barbie's male counterpart.
That day, however, she was definitely intrigued.
She grinned from ear to ear and cradled the doll pictured above while he announced repeatedly: You are a pretty princess, HerNameHere! in an odd, robotic, I-guess-that's-how-Ken-sounds voice.
I laughed (it was sort of funny & Im easy like that) & then I examined the box in her hand.
As a feminist raised on a steady diet of Free To Be You & Me I was horrified.
Barbie dolls are injurious enough to our girls' self-esteem, but a "sweet talking" male they're supposed to long to own so he can SWEET TALK THEM (!)--I lost my mother-mind.
I fired off angry missives.
I ranted *at* my poor husband and anyone else who would listen.
I let my imagination run the proverbial a'muck with precisely what Mattel thought Ken would sweet talk my child into.
Until I took a deep breath, stepped back, & had a little sweet talkin' AH HA! moment of my own.
Was there the possibility the intended as trashy Sweet Talking Ken could be utilized to teach my five year old a positive self-esteem lesson?
As Dr. Phil used to say: I 'got real' with myself.
I acknowledged I flew off the handle was initially displeased because, as an adult, I was aware what Mattel presumed our girls would program Ken to say.
It was precisely what my daughter had him utter.
With some perspective, however, it occurred to me Sweet Talking Ken could be a tool for teaching her how she should expect to be treated.
We teach people how to treat us.
On an adult-level this alludes to complicated renegotiating of relationship dynamics.
On a five year old level this could be as simple as carefully selecting the words we program Sweet Talking Ken to say.
As a parent to a five year old it's about harnessing the power of a potentially trashtastic toy & using as a tool to teach about the power of words good and the importance of asking for what you need.
Id love to know your thoughts as I finish formulating mine.
At first glance are you are offended as was I by Sweet Talking Ken or were my feminist-sensibilities merely on high alert?
What's YOUR definition of "sweet talking?"
Does it resemble my initial one verging on coercion, convincing & underhanded?
Carla Birnberg, MizFit, can be found ambling the aisles at her local toy store still trying to decide whether or not to purchase Ken.