No matter how you grew up, you probably had or knew someone who owned a barbie doll. Ever since the doll first came out in 1959, she has had a bad reputation surrounding her body. She has an unrealistic form that has made parents cautious to buy it. Children are very impressionable and can be influenced by virtually anything. So the fear with the barbie doll is that kids will spend their time playing with her then look in the mirror and realize that they don’t look like her. This could lead to long lasting issues in their adult life. Eating disorders are a big problem in youth, especially in women. In the decade following the barbies release, the number of diagnosed eating disorders in the U.S more than tripled the previous years. There is no way of knowing if this ultimately was because of barbie coming out, but it could’ve made an impact. Barbie’s measurements would fit into the anorexic category. And that is what she is influencing kids to want to be. In 1965 the slumber party barbie was released. She came with a scale permanently set to 110 lbs, and a book called “how to lose weight, don’t eat”. This is suggesting to little kids that this is a good rule to follow to be like barbie and weigh 110 lbs. One year later the scale was removed due to parent complaints but somehow the diet book was left in the set. Barbie’s appearance is not the only problem with her though. She has been portrayed in many movies and shows as dumb. She may convince kids that pretty girls can’t be smart. Which is not a good message to send to kids. This adds to the stereotype of “dumb blonds”. Although recently barbie has been changing to be a good role model to kids. She may be turning into an image for feminism. Where she used to be a character obsessed with her looks and having the perfect things, she is now someone who shows that women can be whatever they want to be. Ruth Handler, the creator of the doll said “My whole philosophy of barbie was that, through the doll, the little girl could be anything that she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices”. In Barbie’s 50 years she has had over 150 careers. This inspires children to be whatever they want in life. They can watch their doll complete all of these accomplishments in her careers and then grow up and do it all for themselves. Some people are arguing that the only jobs that barbie is portrayed in are very feminized professions. Most of her jobs like teacher, nurse, chief, or vet are very female oriented ones. Then the other jobs like astronaut, computer engineer, or even president are shown in a girly way. With skirts, pink, and tight clothes, the job is completely changed to be more feminized. But strides are being made to keep the barbie career oriented without making the job change.Even barbies image is now changing to adapt to being more realistic. They have started making the dolls come in all different shapes and sizes. There are petite and tall dolls, curvy and skinny dolls, etc. With all of the different sized barbies, kids will not be pressured to think that what they look like is wrong. Though some people are arguing that even with the original tiny barbie, kids really didn’t think much about her shape. One of the amazing things about kids minds is that they don’t think about people as skinny or fat. They don’t think that there is anything wrong with looking different than them. Francie Diep, a writer for the pacific standard, says “A survey of young women, published in 2014, found no association between body image and how old they were when they started playing with Barbies, or how many Barbie dolls they owned”. So does playing with the dolls really affect kids feelings about their body? Children really don’t think the same when it comes to their image. Adults are putting too much stress over something that the kids are not even putting any thought into. They play with the toys, yes, but that doesn’t mean that they envy anything about how she looks. They can also tell what things are not real. Children don’t think of the plastic dolls bodies as something that they want for themselves.
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