Till We Reach That Day
Date: Sun., Feb. 14, 9:15 & 11:15 a.m., Sanctuary. Minister: Rev. David A. Miller. Description: As part of "Thirty Days of Love: A Call to Action for Faith, Race and Justice," this service will focus on racial justice movements including Black Lives Matter and how we boldly take action toward transformation and wholeness. The Courageous Love Award will be presented. Music: Chorale. Religious Exploration: RE classes in session for age 2 to Grade 12. Grades 1-6 begin in the Chapel. All others begin in class.
Sexuality and Spirituality
Date: Sun., Feb. 21, 9:15 & 11:15 a.m., Sanctuary. Minister: Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig. Music: Catalin Dima. Religious Exploration: RE classes in session for age 2 to Grade 12, except Grade 7. Grades 1-6 begin in Chapel for social justice workshop to create Hypothermia Prevention program projects. Age 2 to Kindergarten and High School begin in class.
The politics of Barbie
by Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig. Barbie has blue hair and hips! This week, The Washington Post reported that Mattel, maker of the Barbie doll, is introducing a whole spectrum of Barbie diversity: four different body types, including a fuller-figured Barbie whose shape is a lot more like the average American woman than the Barbie dolls I grew up with; seven different skin tones; 22 eye colors; and (of course) 24 different hairstyles; including the aforementioned blue hair. It’s about time. No doubt it’s good for business. But it’s also the right thing to do. When I was a girl, I adored Barbies. I loved the clothes and the hair, as so many other kids did. Even more, I loved the invitation they offered to play grown-up. My friends and I spun all sorts of stories for our Barbies – adventure, fun, working, playing. The old pool table in our basement became a glamorous Barbie disco, with soundtrack provided by our fabulous K-Tel anthology records, predecessors of today’s playlists. The bookshelf made a great Barbie dream house, once you took all the books out. And the back yard provided scope for our complicated secret-agent Barbie plots. Those Barbies were so much fun. Yet I wonder if that fun came at a cost. Today, we’re all aware of the danger of kids’ internalizing the very narrow image of beauty that Barbie represents – blonde, blue-eyed, impossibly skinny. In fact, literally impossibly skinny. In 2013, rehabs.com created a graphic showing that if a real woman had proportions like Barbie, she would have room in her torso for only half a liver and a few inches of intestine (!); her neck would be too frail to support her head; and her feet and ankles would be so tiny compared to her body, she wouldn’t even be able to walk upright. So how do I reconcile my childhood delight in Barbie with my grown-up knowledge of the psychic damage she can also do? My head tells me that, yes, we need to critique the Barbie doll. Barbies have encouraged generations of girls to develop abnormal body images. And they have promoted an all-white ideal of beauty, such that kids of color cannot see their own beauty reflected in the dolls given to them to play-act their imaginations of adulthood. (I will say, Mattel did introduce Barbie’s African-American friend, Christie, in the mid-1960s, and “Black” Barbie in 1980. When I was growing up, our local department store carried “International Barbies.” I loved our “Chinese Barbie” and “Mexican Barbie.” But I think these dolls were pretty hard to come by. And certainly there were no dolls like “Chinese-American Barbie” or “Mexican-American Barbie” reflecting the diversity of the United States itself.) Just yesterday we heard Derwin Overton’s challenge to us to think more intersectionally about the challenges created by overlapping oppressions of race, gender and so many other categories of identity. Clearly, children’s dolls are by no means the only field on which we play out our stories of which ethnicities, genders and body types are privileged. But they do matter. They communicate. They influence precious young spirits. So should we toss Barbie aside? Some families have decided that’s the right choice for them. Certainly other doll makers have been much quicker to offer a range of multicultural dolls. (Here’s one good directory.) And for myself? As your minister, I owe you not only my best critical thinking about our world but also the truth about the state of my heart. Mary Oliver’s iconic words echo within me today: “Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” And I confess, in spite of all the knowledge my critical, thinking self can now bring to bear, the 8-year-old in me still loves Barbies and the invitation they offered me to imagine and dream about the grown-up I might become. I’m not ready to pitch the Barbie out with the bathwater. So, for me, I am happy to see Mattel moving to create a spectrum of beautiful dolls of many different ethnicities and more realistic sizes. My mind says yes to that, and my heart does too. P.S. Just for fun, check out this post on clerical vestments for Barbie. Love it!Read More >>>