Barbie did not distort my body image.

The new “average” Barbie {via}
I loved playing with Barbies growing up. In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, I probably played with them a little too long. I loved making up life stories for these little plastic people and entering a fantasy land on a daily basis. They were always different characters, with different jobs and families, and my friends and I would play for hours with tiny purses, shoes, and clothing sprawled around the room or hallway.
I will admit, I’ve had my fair share of body image moments. As a dancer, I hated how I looked in my leotard and remember cringing while staring at my awkward adolescent body in the mirror. I wasn’t tall or skinny like most dancers are, but yet I still had a passion for dance and I wanted to be there. Up until middle school, I only danced 1 or 2 times a week and then in high school, it went up to 5 or 6. I guess you could say I was in shape and “fit” in relation to how much I worked out but still, I wasn’t happy with my body.
Did Barbie cause that?
I remember trying to diet in middle school by writing Weight Watchers point values on my sandwich bags; just random numbers, not actual proportions relevant to the program. Maybe it was for attention or maybe it made me feel better, I’m not sure. I also wore a rubber band on my wrist and snapped it anytime I wanted junk food or candy. I don’t even know where I heard or saw that but I thought it would help me control my bad eating habits.
Did Barbie cause that?
Fast forward to college and I was terrified of gaining the Freshman 15. I partied multiple times a week but I began to watch what I ate, very closely, and try to workout to compensate the beer intake. My college is also “famous” for skinny girls and a high percentage of eating disorders, however that wasn’t what was causing my unhappiness with my body. I compared myself to no one but the naked girl I saw in the mirror each day. If I didn’t like how she looked, it was no one’s influence but my own.
Did Barbie cause that?
My anxiety kicked into high gear after college; I believe it to be a combination of uncertainty, stress, a bad breakup, and an end to the plan I had worked so hard to build the past four year. College was over? Now what? Could I still go out and drink on the weekends? How did “real” people balance work and play? Would I have friends to do things with? I missed my friends from college and more than just that, I missed living with them. My anxiety caused stress which in turn, caused me to gain weight. And then gaining weight caused me more stress and looking back, probably depression. I hated how I looked and I was so unhappy with so many other things in my life.
Did Barbie cause that?
I understand the point of this new Barbie; people want it to look more “real life” and show little girls that real women aren’t that size, tan, perfect, blonde, etc. But for as much as I played with Barbies, none of those thoughts ever went through my head. I’m all for Barbies of different races, ethnicities, size, shape, etc, but I don’t agree that the Barbies are the reason for eating disorders or distorted self image. Or that little girls look at them and think that. I looked at my Barbies and just saw people to channel my imagination and creativity through. Not perky boobs, a tiny waist, or flat stomach.
Kids are naive. And that’s the way it should be. They should get to be little for as long as we can keep them little because it happens too fast. You blink and you’re in middle school, high school, college, getting married, and starting a family. Would I purchase this doll for my daughter? Sure, if she wanted me to. But do I think the “traditional” Barbies are bad and that they’re going to cause her a lifetime of distress from thinking she needs to look that way? Absolutely not. They’re dolls… and innocent children don’t see much past that.
I think these lessons should be taught by us, not the dolls. Does a child need a Barbie with stretch marks or cellulite stickers? How about we just let them see our bodies and show them that it’s normal to have these things? Children love their moms; showing them what a real person, someone they love, looks like, will be far more effective than seeing it on a doll that they’re playing with. And to be honest, some girls may not even notice what they’re looking at until they reach a certain age.
Do I fear that my daughter may one day grow up with the same distorted body image or thoughts of self image that I did? Maybe. But there are ways around that; teaching her about the importance of eating healthy, exercising regularly, and living an active lifestyle. Do I think my future 5 year old will analyze the size, shape, and appearance of a Barbie? No, I don’t think so. I do think she will see women on TV or in magazines when she gets a little older and wonder why she doesn’t look like that. And at that point, I will explain why.
In my opinion, Barbie isn’t causing young girls to think they need to be perfect. I think there are a ton of other things in society doing it. But even then, I never looked at a magazine and thought “I need to look like that!” I wanted to be happy and feel good about myself and that was a place no one told me I needed to be or decided for me. It’s where I felt good and comfortable and what I wanted to work for.
So did Barbie cause that? No. She certainly didn’t. 
What are your thoughts on this new “average” Barbie? Do you think eating disorders or body image disorders stem from Barbie?





what do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.