Thursday, September 20, 2007

barbie as the princess and the pauper

One of my favorite things to watch on YouTube is—wait for it—clips of the songs from the digitally-animated movie Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper.

My niece fell in love with this straight-to-DVD release a year-and-a-half ago, when her cousins lent her a copy. I was kind of aghast when my sister told me that Meghan was watching Barbie movies. My feminist-indoctrinated sensibilities were offended by the thought of our little girl growing up with Barbie as a formative role-model.

(Let's just forget, for the moment, that Barbie was my absolute favorite toy as a child.)

My sister pleaded Barbie's case. Apparently the songs were catchy. She (my sister) had already memorized the lyrics, and found herself humming snippets of the songs all day long.

I decided to reserve judgment until I saw the movie for myself.

So, the next time I visited my sister, Aunt Michelle and Meghan sat down to watch Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper. (By then Meghan had already tired of the film and wasn't especially interested in watching it with me. Didn't matter. I made her.)

I was enchanted.

I'm a classically-trained singer with a pretty low tolerance for badly-written or -performed music. I was grudgingly impressed with the song-writing—especially the lyrics, which celebrated Barbie's talents, individuality, and self-development. Who knew?

The best moment, however, came while I was watching my niece's response to the songs. Caught up in the joy of the music, she sang along boldly and un-self-consciously. And I was awestruck to see her mimicking, gesture for gesture, each choreographed Barbie movement.

At one point Meghan raised her tiny little hand to the sky and wiggled her fingers; tears sprang unexpectedly to my eyes when I saw butterflies alight on the Barbies' onscreen fingers moments later.

I don't pretend to know what's really good for kids and their development. But I remember craving magic as a little girl... and I can't deny my niece the same magic.

Why do I keep watching the Barbie videos on YouTube? Because I want to be like this modern-day Barbie: bold, courageous, self-knowing, compassionate, and fulfilled.

Have a look for yourself, here.

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