I’ve read a lot of studies and paid attention to this topic for a number of years now and it’s left me with my own take on the matter. Many articles point out that Barbie’s unrealistic body measurements are unhealthy and it’s impacting our girls in a negative way. I’ve seen many parents opposed to the idea of their kids playing with Barbie dolls and opt for dolls with more realistic measurements. Another issue that seems to be popping up is Barbie’s “trashy” look, the dresses that she wears aren’t suitable for little girls.
Now I just stated what I’ve gathered over several years, not my actual opinion. Firstly the people that do spend money on surgeries to look like a doll are few and it’s definitely not a doll problem. Is a body image problem. But is Barbie really impacting girls to want to dress in skimpy dresses and acquire unhealthy sized waists?
I was born in the Caribbean, brown skinned and definitely not slim and I absolutely loved playing with Barbies as well as my cousins and friends. It never crossed my mind that I needed to be like my fair skinned, blue eyed, skinny Barbie. Of course we thought her very pretty and fashionable but she was a doll. We were able to differentiate a doll’s body and real life bodies. As for her dresses, I was raised in a conservative house and never questioned why Barbie got to be sexy and I didn’t. I didn’t even know what sexy was. It was just the way the doll dressed and it was just the way I dressed in “real life”.
Even if you don’t allow your children to play with superficial Barbies, they are going to see women with all different body types all around them that may or may not cause them to question their own body size. The skinny girl wants more hips, more boobs, the fat girl thinks the skinny girl has it easier but it’s never really the case. We will all criticize ourselves one way or another. My point is if you raise your children with a good head on their shoulders, Barbie won’t have that kind of effect on them.
As a child I felt like Barbie’s different careers were more interesting than the way she looked. I never really thought about it at all until recently with the body shaming. Also in more recent times people are praising the companies for making more curvy dolls and a wider variety which is a good thing but it shouldn’t just be a good thing because you didn’t teach your children to differentiate between reality and pretend play. Teach your children to love their bodies and accept that we are all different shades, shapes and sizes. Let them know that it does not take away from who they are as a person inside.