Monday, February 01, 2016

Barbie Thoughts

So they're coming out with new Barbie dolls. They've added petite, curvy and tall body types.  While I laud anything to promote positive body image in girls I'm starting to feel a little weird about it.  Because I look at these new dolls and maybe I find myself identifying with one, to see which I match up with. And then I feel weird like, do I need Barbie to look like me? Do I really identify with a Barbie doll?  I never did before. I wasn't a huge Barbie fan when I was a kid;  I had two or three.  I played with them at my friends' house.  But I don't remember ever thinking, "why aren't MY legs nine feet long? This giraffe neck isn't reflective of my body shape at all.  Oh that I had long strangely shiny yet coarse, rug-like blonde hair."   I just never identified with them in any other way than, this is a play thing.  This is a doll and this is what this doll looks like.  And frankly her freakishly long legs help you to hold onto her.

And I feel like it's kind of sad to place or compare how one views oneself with a doll. Maybe that's not the direction we should be taking in instilling these things in young girl. And if they need a doll to help them feel better about themselves, there must be better ways.   It's like, why don't all cars look like my Hot Wheels? I'm super bummed about that and feel bad about my crummy Honda. (Joke, Luv you 4-ever, Black Taxi)

Does this make any sense? How do other people feel about this?  Is it maybe just a little silly?    It just never occurred to me to want to look like Barbie because, once again, she's...a... doll. And, you know, I'm not. 


suvi said...

You know, i've never thought about it, but you are totally right. I was a barbie fanatic as a kid and loved playing with them, but I was a little kid and I knew that these were grown up dolls. Maybe subconsciously they made me really want to be tall? Maybe that's the damage - that it makes little kids not necessarily want to look like a barbie, but think that there is a certain "ideal" body type for women that gets trapped in our subconscious when we are teens or in our twenties. Though I think that the grown up media is way more to blame for that than dolls are.

Alanna said...

I didn't play with Barbies much as a kid-- I was more interested in Legos. I kind of love that Legos have a wheelchair-bound guy now.

I also didn't really have "body issues" when I was a kid. I worried about whether or not I was pretty and likable and stuff like that, but I was fine with my body. (I was also naturally pretty skinny, so maybe I was just lucky in that department.) When I got really into ballet in college I began worrying about if I should lose weight, but not enough to ever actually try! (And then later evil ex-boyfriend nearly gave me an eating disorder, but that was more about feeling stressed and valueless than about food and weight. As soon as he was out of my life, eating became normal again.)

I think that photo-shopped magazines and pornography and all that are much more damaging than Barbies because they show us something that seems real but isn't. You're right-- a doll that isn't realistic isn't too big of a deal because it's so obviously a doll. But a person on a magazine cover with impossibly thin thighs makes it easy to second-guess your own thighs (or whatever). But in the words of Tina Fey, Photo Shop isn't going anywhere, so what can you do about that?

)en said...

Love it. Totally agree with you both. At the very base of our existence there has to be a love of self. How to get there can be tricky but with all these societal pressures, constructs, portrayaIs, I feel like there must be a reconciliation of our body and the way we feel about ourselves. That we can actually CHOOSE how to view ourselves and how much place we give these pressures or outside influences is a powerful feat and unlocks the doors to freedom, ahhh! Soap box!!

Seriously though, amen. These campaigns that offer a different point of view, a different "ideal" or definition of beauty is a positive movement- like those Dove campaigns or whatever. But I think what can help even more is interacting with people who have confidence even if they look like ______, seeing that self love is possible, that comparing ourselves is a spiraling fruitless endeavor, and striving for that same confidence ourselves. Amen.