Barbie mini-cult at the zoo

In the eyes of the little girls who converged at the Johannesburg Zoo two weeks ago, their parents were the biggest nuisance. The main woman of the show was a live Barbie, or a "Barbie for real" as my daughter told her peers. And because Barbie is royalty as far as most little girls are concerned, we parents had to wait while they got ready for her grand arrival. They waited by getting their make-up done, visiting different spots, getting a tattoo rip-off for R10, watching the latest Barbie movie or eating at the restaurant.

In the eyes of the little girls who converged at the Johannesburg Zoo two weeks ago, their parents were the biggest nuisance. The main woman of the show was a live Barbie, or a "Barbie for real" as my daughter told her peers. And because Barbie is royalty as far as most little girls are concerned, we parents had to wait while they got ready for her grand arrival. They waited by getting their make-up done, visiting different spots, getting a tattoo rip-off for R10, watching the latest Barbie movie or eating at the restaurant.

All the while, parents had to dig deeper into their pockets trying to keep the children out of trouble with the animals.

"This Barbie thinks she is a princess. Why do we have to wait the whole day for her?" I asked.

"Of course, she's a princess. We have to wait our turn," replied my princess.

I cannot believe the power that Barbie wields over little girls. It sickens me but it seems my daughter decided a long time ago that my opinion can go to hell.

When "Barbie for real" finally arrived, looking like royalty and waving her tiny hands better than the Princess of Wales did, it was to much applause and frenzy. The children ran amok. The little boys who had accompanied their sisters, ditched their trucks and they all ran for Barbie's attention. Fathers were totally flustered by this turn of events.

Then we continued to brave the sun and wait with the kids for Barbie's autograph. Every kid wanted an autograph and a photo with Barbie. Some of them even tried to sit on Barbie's immaculate lap while the hearts of others seemed to have sprinted way ahead of them.

I tried to dissuade the interest from the Barbie creature to Miss Teen SA and presenters from Yo-TV, but my little one couldn't care less if we offered her all the jewels in the world. She wanted to get close to Barbie, and while the queue continued at a snail's pace, my little one whispered to me at least 100 times: "She is so pretty."

Though I wanted to reply: "She's so fake," I have learnt a long time ago not to bad mouth Barbie in my little girl's presence. She doesn't take kindly to her favourite doll being insulted.

The girls were in their best attire and at their best behaviour. You could have mistaken the outing for a church service. There is no getting rid of Barbie and, like I told myself many years ago, I will live by Barbie's gospel. If Barbie makes my little girl happy, then she can worship her - but leave me out of it.

X