Yesterday there were a couple really big announcements about the way we play, and it reminded me that even though I’m not making change in the world as a politician, I am making change in the way we tell stories, and that’s important too.
Here’s how I realized my work mattered:
1) Mattel announced new Barbie’s with different shapes, skin tones, and careers.
2) Lego announced its first minifigure in a wheelchair.
And lo, the internet rejoiced.
This is obviously not the end of the work. There is still far to go, and many miles yet to be paved for equal opportunity play, but let’s be real a second, for just a millisecond: The way children play matters.
What children play with matters. When children (and adults) are exposed to playscapes with people who havec the same bodies as them, or different bodies. If you have different colors of skin, different ways that bodies adapt to the world, it expands your ability to be compassionate. If you’ve played with dolls that use a wheelchair, maybe you’ll learn that say, carpet pile matters when it comes to where you can play with that doll. That translates later to realizing that this is probably how it is for real wheelchair users.
So, yeah, I think we should throw money at the new barbie, and the new lego minifig – and I think that because if we reward change HERE, then it means that they’ll keep changing. The toys will keep evolving. If we keep buying Rey figures until they sell out, that tells the manufacturers something.
This is one of those times where we should vote with our wallets. This is totally one of those times where consumerism matters, and we should say “THESE ARE THE THINGS WE WANT IN OUR PLAYROOMS, ON OUR DESKS, AND IN OUR HOMES.”
Because the value here is that more change is better, not worse. I’m hopeful now that I might see another disabled Barbie in my lifetime – one that isn’t just Wheelchair Barbie, but a doctor or some other character who happens to have a cane. I see that as a possible future – but only if we push them to do more by saying YES AND.