Monday, July 7, 2014

Let's embrace Barbie already

My favorite childhood doll made headlines again. Mattel has released a new Barbie doll line. She's still blonde and dresses pretty sexy. Only difference is she is now running her own business.

Entrepreneur Barbie has made her début in toy stores nationwide. Instead of the accolades Mattel was probably expecting, the toy manufacturer was once again criticized for Barbie's body dimensions and her style. The fear again is what message the new line would send out to our little girls.

Oh, I don't know. Maybe that it is just fine to be an attractive young woman and have brains? Or that your choice to wear pink is a personal one that should be respected? Or maybe that you don't have to be nerdy and plain to be a successful professional?

I never bought into this idea that Barbie was a bad role model. As a child, I played with Barbie's without ever expecting them to change my body image. I played with Barbie because I loved combing her pretty hair and expressing myself by mixing and matching all the clothes available to me. How I loved playing with her house too. And let's not forget handsome Ken and his cool cars. This fantasy play gave this girl from a humble background the opportunity to dream of a promising future. My poor body image never came from Barbie's unrealistic body size. What toys actually reflect reality? My poor body image was unfortunately inherited from my upbringing. The women in my life idealized beauty and perfection and forced that image into my impressionable mind.  Barbie had nothing to do with that.

You see, we can't tell girls that they can be anything they want, and then criticize them when they take our word to heart. The reality is that there are girly girls out there who have ambitions beyond finding a Ken to rescue them. In fact, they hold the same dreams as anyone else. We can't attack them for wanting to express themselves with pretty clothes and the perfect hairstyle. We need to embrace their individuality and support their goals. We also have to refrain from praising high maintenance  and professionally successful men, but worry about women who are as well. We also can't admire men who wear pink then turn around and question women who do the same.

Barbie is not the problem. She is a doll that represents most women: resilient, adaptable, and successful. She has survived five decades of social and political changes to become s successful entrepreneur. Body image starts at home, not the local toy store.

No comments:

Post a Comment