Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fat Barbie, yay or nay?

So its been a few months now that Mattel came out with their new Barbie dolls.  If you aren't in the know, the makers of Barbie added three new body types to the "regular" disproportionate doll that they've been selling since my mom was a kid. This was following the big changes that were made last year, where they added Barbies with a bunch of different skin tones and hair textures. The purpose for the latest big, secretive change was that the dolls are supposed to better represent the kid population in all of it's glorious diversity.

Tall, petite and curvy.

So, how do you feel about it? 

I'm not sure how I feel.  On one hand, it's so important for little kids to actually see diversity and differences in the dolls (toys) that they play with, because imaginative play is one of the ways they practice being grown-ups. But is Mattel missing the mark by focusing so much on body shapes and sizes? Why not just introduce a few new Barbies without concentrating so much on physical attributes, but just quietly adding them? Like say, putting out an athletic looking Barbie, who might have thicker, stronger thighs and flatter feet (better than the typical tippy-toe Barbie for cleats and sneakers). Instead of calling her "big-legged Barbie," they'd be focusing more on her strength and athleticism. I mean - why are we still so absorbed with "looks?"  Shouldn't we be paying more attention to more important attributes, like being smart, strong, independent?  Is beauty an important attribute?

I mean, chubby Barbie can certainly come packaged like a doctor, right?  Not all doctors are thin.

The truth is, physical characteristics can definitely play a role in how a person is viewed by others, and there are plenty of physical characteristics that people are born with that cannot (and should not) be changed. I think if beauty is an important attribute, the dolls should represent a broader view of beauty, but it definitely shouldn't be the sole focus.

Images that kids are bombarded with on a daily basis are not often true to nature, or at the very least, aren't the norm.  Seeing these images consistently equated with "perfection," or "beauty" discourages kids from accepting their own beautiful imperfect selves.  Ultimately, we should all be encouraging our kids to embrace the unique physical characteristics that they were born with, since those characteristics make them who they are. Dolls and toys that represent more of the general population is a step in the right direction.

I'm down with the idea of the new Barbies, I'd just like to see the focus move from "looks," to "strengths." What do you think?

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