When nine-year-old Arya Thomson got a Barbie for her birthday, she decided to give the doll a fresh, norm-defying look. Using craft scissors, she shaped Barbie’s hair into a slick, asymmetrical fade that could be worn by a man or a woman. Arya’s Barbie’s gender-neutral haircut is awesomely progressive! But now she’s realizing it won’t grow back.
“I wanted to show kids that Barbie doesn’t have to look a certain way,” Arya said, speaking from her playroom in Austin, Texas, where her Barbie Dreamhouse is based. “Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you have to act and dress girly. You can have a ‘boyish’ haircut, and still be cool.” And now her Barbie will have a boyish haircut forever, because that hair is never growing back.
A picture of Arya’s super enlightened makeover went viral on Reddit and Tumblr, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “I love that little girls like Arya are now questioning gender norms,” said Reddit commenter Dr_Queen_88. “It’s so great to see a new generation of women embracing genderqueer fluidity! But I also hope she knows that that hair is never going back to the way it was. That part is definitely permanent.”
Arya’s mother Dawn, was supportive of her choice. “I love how creative Arya is! I want her to feel confident to speak out about gender issues and things that are important to her. I think it’s great how this wider online community has really embraced Arya. But I’m also hoping she won’t regret this. I just bought that doll for her.”
So what’s next for Arya? The nine-year-old admits that she’s a bit stumped: “Well, they’re already making Barbies with different body types so I guess I could give one of those an undercut, but it might not suit a rounder face shape. Also, I now know that doll hair doesn’t grow back when you cut it.”