Let me clarify: Do you agree with the message that Barbie may be sending to young girls with one of her many circulated responses, “Math Class is Tough.”? Amidst others such as, “Party dresses are fun!” or “Do you have a crush on anyone?”, my first thought (among many) is: Where’s the relevance here?
Although this line of Barbie, which apparently came out in ’92, has since been trumped by a number of new lines over the past 15+ years, questions/ concerns are still being raised about the Teen Talk version and the potential damaging effects our children’s toys may have (in this case) on their outlook on education and abilities in the classroom.
To be honest, to say that math class was tough for me personally growing up is an understatement. Oddly enough, I had a conversation about this very issue with an old math teacher that I happened bump into at a graduation party this weekend, who knew this fact about me quite well. But growing up, if Barbie had actually told me that math class was tough, I highly doubt that this would have changed anything for me for the better OR the worse in how well I digested a multitude of mathematical teachings. The negative implications of this phrase would not have convinced me that I was destined for years of all-nighters or gut-wrenching, soul-draining hours spent in an attempt to work out equations, algorithms, and who am I kidding: long division… All because Barbie didn’t believe I could do it.
Still though, this brings up a whole slew of issues — aside from the matter of how out of place the message may seem — of whether or not children can actually differentiate between play and reality. Where do we as adults, parents, advertisers, draw the line between what we’re directly or indirectly teaching our youth, our children? Are they capable of telling the difference or seeing through these messages to distinguish between what’s merely a child’s play-thing and life lessons to be learned by a societal ideal? Can children, moreover little girls, differentiate? Or are we to assume that girls will succumb to the lessons that this message presumes to teach them about gender stereotypes — that females + math = don’t mix.
Are we all just taking this a bit too seriously? You be the judge.