Playing Like A Girl: How Barbie & Canadian Women Are Fighting For Your Daughters
As the mother of three young daughters all in minor hockey (Go, ‘Cudas!), I can admit I may be biased about this new hockey-playing, Tim Horton’s-Barbie collaboration. It could also be because I am truly Canadian and Tim Horton’s has become a staple in our hockey-playing winter lives.
However, I also feel like I’m every mother who wants their child to have the opportunity to see themselves represented in some way. Whether it’s how they look, the things they feel, how they identify, or the things they like to do, when children see something true to who they are, it becomes more possible for them to believe anything can happen.
For example, the boys in my daughters’ classes who live and breathe hockey are told there is a viable future for them in the sport. My daughters are told that it’s a nice hobby.
But Sarah Nurse, a Canadian woman who has broken barriers in the sport of hockey, wants your daughters to know she’s working on changing that.
Not only has Nurse won a silver medal with Team Canada in PyeongChang in 2018, she is also a key contributor and ambassador of the Professional Women’s Hockey Player Association (PWHPA) where she advocates to promote, advance, and support a single, viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America.
Nurse, along with Marie-Philip Poulin, another Team Canada medal winner in Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014 who was named the world’s best female hockey player earlier this year in a poll of NHL hockey players, has teamed up with Tim Hortons and Barbie to launch the Tim Hortons Hockey Barbie doll. And 100% of Tim Hortons’ net proceeds are being donated to the Hockey Canada Foundation to support girls’ hockey.
More Than Just A Doll
To some, this might appear to be just a Barbie doll wearing a hockey jersey. To me, it is so much more, and when I spoke to Nurse over the phone, she put it perfectly.
“I want little girls to know it’s okay to play with Barbie dolls and play hockey. It’s okay to want to wear dresses and to also play hockey, too,” Nurse said. She told me that as a kid, she played with Barbies, but she never had an athletic Barbie she could identify with, and certainly not a Barbie in a hockey jersey.
“There’s not a lot of belief in girls who want to play hockey,” Nurse said. Through the Tim Hortons Timbits Minor Sports Program, hundreds of thousands of kids aged four to nine are provided with opportunities to play house league sports, with a philosophy not based on winning or losing, but on learning a new sport, making new friends, and just being a kid. But traditionally when it comes to Timbits Hockey, only 18% of players are girls.
As a kid, Nurse was told that her love of hockey was ‘a nice thing to do’ and that it was fun, but she was also told it was not something she was going to be able to do one day. “It’s very discouraging when people tell your brothers and cousins it’s a great thing to strive for, but they tell you it’s not possible.”
Tim Hortons and Barbie launched Tim Hortons Hockey Barbie as part of a mutual commitment to support girls in pursuing their dreams. The dolls are a part of Barbie’s You Can Be Anything program, which inspires girls to reach their limitless potential through imaginative play and engaging with meaningful role models.
Limiting Self-Beliefs Start At Age Five
Research shows that starting at age 5, many girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs – they stop believing their gender can do or be anything – this is the Dream Gap. One of the ways to help girls believe they can be anything and transcend the Dream Gap is through positive role-modeling.
Nurse, and other female hockey players like Poulin and Renata Fast, are committed to opening up the future for young girls. “The PWHPA is the only entity started by players for the players, and we’re building it from the ground up.”
This Barbie may look like a toy, but it’s also a small, subtle way to help remind girls that they can be who they want to be. There’s no one way to be a girl.
To thank Poulin and Nurse for supporting girls’ hockey, one-of-a-kind dolls were made in their likenesses aimed at inspiring girls to pursue the sport of hockey.
They’re available, just in time for the holidays, at participating Tim Horton’s and select Toys R Us stores.
I’m thrilled. As a mother of daughters, as a bonafide hockey mom, as a Canadian woman. And while this initiative in particular speaks to me, I can only hope it will eventually open up doors for more girls and women in more places where they’re being told no.
“It won’t happen overnight,” Nurse said. “But I’m very optimistic that in 5, 10, 15 years there will be a future for girls in hockey.”