True to celebrity form, Barbie recently took a stand and made a statement on her Barbie Style Instagram account, posting two different photos of herself enjoying some girl time with a doll version of fashion designer Aimee Song. No big deal, right? After all, Barbie loves the coolest fashions, and Song is just the right person to pass along some tips.
Well, big deal is that both Barbie and Song are wearing t-shirts printed with the words “Love Wins” — a very emphatic nod to marriage equality for same sex couples.
Included in her Instagram post was this statement: “Proud to wear this “Love Wins” shirt with @songofstyle! Did you know that her exclusive t-shirts benefit different causes and non-profits?”
The cause benefiting from Song’s “Love Wins” t-shirt is The Trevor Project, an organization that provides suicide prevention services and crisis intervention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) individuals between the ages of 13 and 24.
Since its creation in 1998, hundreds of thousands of youth have reached out to The Trevor Project through their 24-hour crisis line, online chat options, and education workshops.
By showcasing an exclusive t-shirt, Barbie stood up for a group of people often ignored, cast aside, or worse. The LGBTQ community, myself included, is no stranger to hate and discrimination. So when a popular public figure uses their influence for the betterment of humanity, for the betterment of LGBTQ youth, I am thrilled and optimistic for the future of our children.
I’ll be honest: When I was a kid, one who knew she was gay from a very early age, I didn’t play with my Barbie dolls much, or the Ken doll that came with her. I was gifted many of them — from the Dreamhouse, to the Corvette, to the Barbeque Playset — but I was more interested in my baseball cards and shooting hoops with my buddies. I didn’t have any ill-will toward Barbie; I just didn’t have much interest.
Because of these indifferent feelings, I haven’t been motivated to introduce my kids to the world of Barbie, Ken, and their friends. But in the last few years, Barbie and her maker Mattel have made significant strides to break gender stereotypes for girls. Their “Shero” line includes Olympian Gabby Douglas, professional dancer Misty Copeland, and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. Muhammad will be the first Barbie doll to wear a hijab.
And with the revelation that Barbie is cool with the gays, I am cool with buying a few dolls for my kids.
A spokesperson for Mattel told Huffington Post, “We are an inclusive brand that celebrates diversity, kindness, and acceptance.”
Kindness seems like such a simple thing, but when it comes to accepting people who are different than someone’s idea of normal, sometimes it feels hard to come by. If I knew the Barbies collecting dust in my room supported the way my young and vulnerable heart fell in love for the first time with another girl, I probably would have befriended Barbie, a kind ally.
For today’s youth, not just the LGBTQ youth, Barbie can be a symbol of hope and a great conversation starter for parents. I would have loved it if an adult had handed me a doll and said to me, “Sometimes girls fall in love with girls and sometimes boys fall in love with boys. Barbie supports that. And I support that too.”
No child will turn gay if they learn about same sex couples and marriage. But all children can learn acceptance at an early age if it is taught to them. One day, a friend might come out to them, and that child can say, “Hey, I support that. I support you.” That supported LGBTQ friend will be less likely to experience problems in school, experiment with drugs, and consider or commit suicide.
Half of the proceeds from Aimee Song’s “Love Wins” t-shirts will go directly to The Trevor Project, another friend committed to loving and protecting LGBTQ individuals just asking for kindness and acceptance.
Barbie is almost 59 years old, but her values are fresh — and that’s just what our society needs.