Friday, February 5, 2016

What I Think of the New Barbie® Dolls

*takes a deep breath* 
Here it is: I'm not freaking out/doing happy dances about the new "curvy" and "petite" Barbie® dolls that Mattel has released. I'm just not. Do I think it's a bad thing they're doing - trying to a diversify a previously stigmatized (blonde, skinny, made-up) doll - no I do not. But I'm still not freaking out like "OMG there's finally a thick Barbie for the thick girls to play with!" as it seems the rest of the US population is doing.

 

Firstly, let me say this: I played with Barbie from about age four to about age ten. I realize that some young girls play with Barbie past the age of ten but probably not too much into their teenage years. When I was that age, I didn't care what Barbie looked like because I knew she was a toy. I knew Barbie was not a real person. Just like I knew G.I. Joe (who was Barbie's boyfriend in my fantasy world) wasn't real and Skipper (Barbie's sister?) wasn't real and all the other toys I played with were....well, toys.

I also knew that Barbie was a grown woman (she had boobs) and that I didn't look like Barbie because I was a little girl. My mom didn't look like Barbie, neither did my Aunts, teachers, or other adult women in my life. The adult women in my life were highly diversified: I had a basketball coach who was all of 5'1" with cropped steel gray hair and a voice you knew you had to listen to; I had a babysitter named Mimi with skin like a milky way who I loved to cuddle with because she was so soft; I had teachers who were from Spain, Mexico, and New York; I had (and currently have) friends who's skin tones and shapes were vastly different and I never thought to myself: why don't my friends/peers/teachers look like Barbie?

I think diversifying the Barbie line is great... they even have a Barbie with blue hair! They have black barbies, Hispanic barbies, barbies with different hair styles and eye color and even glasses, and that is wonderful because it allows young girls to express their own sense of style through Barbie.

BUT.... 

My fear now, with the "different size" barbies, is that it will put even more of a stigma on curvy little girls. Now, if a young girl is overweight, will she feel pressured to buy the "curvy" Barbie because she isn't "skinny" like the original Barbie? Will other girls designate the "bigger" girls in the group to play with "fat Barbie" now? Growing up I had a number of different Barbie dolls including the dolls of different races, because (duh) Barbie had to have all of her friends as neighbors. But now, there's also petite Barbie and curvy Barbie to throw into the mix because everyone has to be so damn PC these days. I can just imagine a little girl opening her new Barbie from her mom and hearing, "Look honey, I got you a new [fat] Barbie that looks like you! Aren't you so happy?" and the little girl going to her room, crying because her mom thinks she's fat. I'm not saying this is an actual scenario, but I can just see it happening.

Am I making sense here?? It's perfectly okay if you disagree with me (I'm sure many do) but I just had to say it, I'm not hopping on the Barbie train this time. I get that they are trying to diversify toys because they represent people and people are diverse - but it's a TOY.

Will G.I. Joe now release a redhead with freckles? A short beefy one? What about a tall, lanky version because some guys really can't grow muscles like that? No, I really doubt it... because it's okay for little boys to admire a toy with muscles and want to be like G.I. Joe when he grows up, but it's wrong for a girl to want to be like Barbie

Are the new Barbie dolls just to appease the (adult) masses? Do you think the popularity of Petite Barbie and Curvy Barbie will reach that of the other Barbie dolls? What are your thoughts? 

16 comments:

notfunnymom said...

Nailed it. Barbie is a toy, not a replica of you. I personally think the new Barbies are stupid.

Autumn @ The Unreal Life said...

Agreed. I definitely think it's more to appease the adults. Kids know that toys are toys... they're not asking why they don't look like their Darth Vader doll.

Sara Elizabeth said...

This new Barbie was definitely made to appease the adults crying out about body image and lack of representation. I too played with Barbies for many years of my life, hell, I had 200+ of them! Playing with Barbies didn't play a role in any body image issues nor did I feel inferior to Barbie because of how she looked because she's a plastic toy!

Body image is definitely a serious issue but making a Barbie who is "thick" is not the answer. I think a lot of times now, parents lean on outside sources to help "parent" their children. Instead of being body positive and working on & teaching about health at home, and not shoveling processed "kid" food into their kids for 3 meals a day, why not let a Barbie teach about body image!! It's just ridiculous.

Caitlin @ Southern Exhilaration said...

PREACH!! Playing with a stick figure barbie does not mess with a child's esteem its the other children and adults who bully them into being different than they are! My child will one day play with my extensive Barbie collection.

Pleas(e) and Carrots said...

I played with Barbies a lot as a kid and never once did I ever think of Barbie as a real person or think that my friends, my family, or I was supposed to look like her. Did my baby dolls look like real babies? Did my Lego Duplo people and animals look like real people and animals? No, they were toys and I knew that. I feel like they are trying to fix something that wasn't broken, at least, it wasn't broken for the kids. Kids are smarter and more intuitive than a lot of adults give them credit for.

La Belle Sirene said...

I can totally see your point. It's not something I thought of right away, I didn't really think much about them at all other than to think of how my 5 year old niece would react. She loves to play with Barbies and has both new and old ones, she always says that she can't play with the older ones because they're fat. It breaks my heart and I can see her saying the same thing about the curvy dolls. It seems like the new dolls might just fuel body shaming.

Crystal said...

I can totally see your point. I didn't think about it that way when I heard about the different sizes (although I also wasn't applauding the news, I've been indifferent)I definitely think it's unnecessary to have different sized Barbie dolls, but I'm not a fan of Barbies in general. I didn't really play with them when I was younger, so that probably factors into it. I just don't get why people get so worked up over them.

Kayla MKOY said...

I can see your point for sure. I don't have much of an opinion on the topic itself. I just think businesses and brands nowadays are so pressured to do the "right thing" so they don't offend people, which is crummy! Thanks for sharing!!!

Jessie Jones said...

I think that this is the best of both worlds. I don't think it was done for kids as much as adults, but I'll also be the mom that buys a few Barbie types instead of just one.

Iryna Bychkiv said...

That's a good point. I haven't thought about new Barbies yet, but I definitely understand what you are saying. Hopefully all moms will have enough sanity not to buy a new thick Barbie to their daughters to show the resemblance.
I'm curious if these new doll types become as popular as their original ones and if they receive a criticism from people.

Rachel said...

Amen! Especially to this part:"I also knew that Barbie was a grown woman (she had boobs) and that I didn't look like Barbie because I was a little girl."

If a girl has body issues because of a doll, it's not the doll's fault. It's probably her parent's fault. Sorry, not sorry.

Lisa @ Naptime Chai said...

I agree with you, although I hadn't given the new barbie dolls much though, honestly. I mean, I think it's nice that they make the barbie bigger in general, but I don't think there needs to be all these different body types... they could just aim for an average-size doll and call it a day (if they really needed to change anything at all)!

Jazmine Brown said...

In a sense I think the new barbies are a great thing. A little girl commented she said "these dolls make me feel beautiful." She was probably around 10. I thought that was interesting because as you said when I was a kid I never really looked at Barbie as someone to "aspire to" or someone I wanted to be like. It was just a toy for me.. but with growing generations it could be complete different. I was in shock when I heard that girl said that. I just think it's a fun idea to have different types of Barbie dolls.

Kelsey Sheron said...

Oh. My. Gosh.....I am so glad I'm not the only one!!! I also played with Barbies (longer than 10 shhhhh) and knew they were just toys, not a realistic way for my body to look like. You gave perfect examples of the diversity in the women in your life as the bodies girls grow up seeing and (in my opinion) if your parents or role models or adult figures are doing it right, they teach you to understand the difference between a toy and reality...le sigh, trying to make everything PC is honestly just ruining our society. I do applaud the addition to the diverse ethnic additions. That I can get behind. (sorry rant over)

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

yeah this makes total sense. i am not jumping for joy about the new barbies, and while i do think it's cool, i think it could also backfire. like you can't play with that barbie, you have to play with the one that looks like you. also, any of my body image issues were a result of other things, not because i played with barbies growing up. you know?

alk alk said...

I think it's a great thing! I agree that there may be some initial fall out, but I think it's a great demonstration of a world moving beyond tall, blonde, and 'perfect'. It has seemed to me that Barbie was designed for a male eye anyways. I mean, she made it to Sports Illustrated before a 'plus-sized' model did. Don't you guys find that kind of gross? When I have children, I'd rather they find toys that are more geared towards them. And if they do want Barbies, it seems like a lot more fun to have a realistic community than a bunch of Stepford Barbies.