10 Feb 2016

Barbie Girl


I know I’m a bit late to the party, as a lot has already been written about Mattel’s recent introduction of three new body types and a variety of skin shades for Barbie. But still, I wanted to add my two penny’s worth to the debate, as this is actually a subject close to my heart.

Like many mothers, I’ve had an ambiguous attitude towards Becky playing with Barbies. The little girl in me, who remembers the joy Barbies brought to her own childhood and the hours spent dressing, undressing, combing and grooming my Barbies, wants Becky to have the same; to just enjoy the dolls for what they are - just dolls - and have fun with them.

But the grown-up, the mother, the feminist in me, has always shuddered a little at everything that Barbie represents – the “perfect”, unachievable body, the blond cliché, the slightly dull and overly pink Barbie world, and a lifestyle that is far from desirable and just too one dimensional in my book.

Suffice to say that Barbie has never been my choice role model for Becky.

It’s the fake body ideal in particular that Barbie projects which has always been the main crux of the problem for me. As someone who has struggled with body image all my life, from early teens or even prior, I worry about what it teaches my daughter. What she will grow up to believe is “normal”. I dread to think that Becky’s body image and sense of self could be influenced by this tiny-waisted and big-boobed blond creature that has so little resemblance to real life women.

So I for one am actually really glad that Mattel has taken this – long overdue – step and launched a tall, petite and curvy Barbie, as well as skin shades that represent a bigger ethnic diversity. I know that the majority of news coverage on this topic has been rather cynical, insinuating that Mattel has only done this as a desperate and final step to help safe its declining sales; a last ditch attempt to be seen as being in touch with its ever shrinking audience, the “Millennial Mum”.

This may well be the case. In fact, I tend to agree with this. However, whether it was an actual sense of responsibility or plain corporate greed that has fueled the decision, it doesn’t change the end result and the fact that this is a welcome evolution of a somewhat iconic toy which has been every little girls’ favourite for generations – and therefore Mattel has a duty to be “more in touch”. To represent diversity, and not just an outdated, superficial female stereotype.

It might be a small step, and Barbie certainly still has way to go before everything she represents has any bearing on reality, but it’s a start.  

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2 comments

  1. I agree, I really do not care as care as much about the reasons behind the change, but more about the fact that the girls of today have a better choice. Blessings!

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  2. Oh yes I have read lots of blog posts on the barbie debate. I like to stay out of debates but I agree it's lovely to see diversity now. Although I grew up with barbies all my life and I still wanted to be more like my mother with her dark black hair and dark brown eyes and hated having blonde hair and blue eyes. haha Who would have thought? lol Great post. Good to stand up for something close to your heart. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

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