This is not your mother’s Barbie. In 2018, Barbie still has a dream house and still loves the color pink, but she also has a career in STEM and a vlog — and she’s using her voice to empower her young audience.
In a vlog episode entitled “Sorry Reflex,” Barbie sits down in her very pink bedroom and breaks down the word “sorry,” pointing out how often everyone — but especially girls — say it when they don’t really need to apologize for anything.
“We say it a lot… like, A LOT,” Barbie says in the vlog. “Like it’s a reflex, and that somehow everything that goes wrong is our fault.” She acts out examples where girls might say “Sorry!” when someone bumps into them or if their food is too cold at a restaurant.
“We get excited and exuberant about something we’re really excited about, then we instantly say sorry,” she says, hanging her head. “Like we’re afraid of being too ‘big.'”
Barbie goes on to acknowledge it is always important to “be kind and thoughtful and polite, and to offer a sincere apology if we have done something wrong,” but she asserts that saying “sorry” when it’s not appropriate is a “learned reflex” that “hurts our self confidence.”
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She challenges her audience to replace the word “sorry” with words that describe what they really mean — like saying “thank you” if someone acknowledges their sad feelings instead of apologizing for being sad.
“There’s so much more power in saying ‘thank you’ instead of ‘sorry.’ It really changes the dynamic in a way that you can feel when you do it,” Barbie says.
No matter how many ways parents try to strengthen their daughters’ self-confidence, a message like this from a character like Barbie might be even more effective.
“This is a powerful message about how we can accidentally hurt ourselves with self-deprecating language,” child development and parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa told TODAY Parents. “Watch this with your Barbie-lover and you might both be ready to take the challenge to turn ‘sorry’ into ‘thank you.’ And if you do, make sure to check back in with your child and notice what changed in her feelings, and in the behavior of those around her.”
Barbie’s parent company, Mattel, did not respond to a request for comment.
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