Mattel’s newest Barbies diversify body image

(Concordiensis I Andy Cassarino)

This past month, Mattel released news that their famous Barbie doll will now be coming in a more diverse form, with the hopes of connecting with more customers and making them feel comfortable in their own skin.

The impossibly tall, thin and oddly-proportioned body of the original Barbie doll has always been a point of contention, as its attainability is actually nonexistent and the standards it sets are downright unhealthy.

There are multiple viral videos of women obtaining surgeries to attempt to achieve the ‘Barbie body,’ and seeing a Barbie in real life is quite an unsettling sight, as the limbs and chest are nearly gargantuan, while the waist seems microscopic.

Certainly, when we see the images of women looking like a real-life Barbie, and how utterly odd and un-human they appear, it is clear that Barbie is not exactly an appropriate role model for young girls to attempt to emulate in the body department.

A woman with body proportions that are literally impossible to be naturally inherited in any human, is obviously not a realistic body standard for impressionable young girls. Therefore, the thought process with the new wave of more realistic Barbies seems to be that their bodies are ones which young girls can look at and actually relate to, or at least strive for, without needing excessive plastic surgery.

As a girl who grew up with the original Barbie, however, I still cannot help but feel a slight twinge of sadness at seeing my favorite toy, the girl I dressed in a million outfits, fade into the background, replaced with more realistic models.

Growing up and playing with Barbie dolls, I never really put much thought into her body, or at least enough to attempt to model mine or any of my dieting choices after hers.

To me, and I think, to a lot of my friends, she just seemed to be a girl who happened to be quite tall and quite thin, who also had an endless supply of amazing outfits with awesome opportunities to do whatever she wanted with her life.

I did, as I’m sure many others did, find her quite beautiful; as a young girl I enjoyed being able to have this gorgeous, shiny-haired, impeccably dressed doll that I could have act out any scenarios I wished with her many friends.

The experience of playing with a Barbie, for me and my friends as young girls, was not one of having a doll that looked just like me and being able to relate to her; rather it was having my own mini super-model, whose blonde strands I could comb. I enjoyed having my own popular, chosen one to play with.

Now, it is clear that others, like the famous woman who attempted to literally become Barbie with multiple face and body altering surgeries, did not have quite the same Barbie experience as me, and this is certainly a troubling aspect of Barbie’s odd and impossible body.

For those who attempt to actually obtain Barbie’s incredibly teeny waist, Mattel’s decisions on her original proportions are actually quite dangerous.

With the new strand of realistic, relatable Barbie’s, this problem will, hopefully be somewhat solved.

I cannot help but wonder if the experience of playing with a Barbie now will be a different one from that I had when I played with mine, now that they are made to look more like women that the little girls playing with them would see and know in real life.

Rather than feeling like Barbie is some sort of mix between Gisele Bundchen and some type of angel, now Barbies will feel like someone little girls could actually become, perhaps making the Barbie experience an entirely different one.

It seems that this could be quite a good change, as girls will now be able to see themselves having the opportunities that Barbie has, rather than just having a doll with an unobtainable body and unobtainable opportunities.



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