This one’s for you, Barbie!

17 May

Barbie takes a lot of flack for being “unrealistic” and giving girls bad body image. If I hear one more time about some grad student somewhere did a study and knows Barbie’s measurements if she were a real lady, I’ll pummel someone.

This is one of the two gymnast Barbies I owned.

Being a girl raised in a Barbie world (that song is about my sister Julie and I, actually), I know Barbie has some unrealistic boobs for her frame. It was hard not to notice. Her dimensions have changed quite a bit over the years too. When my mom deemed us old enough, she gave us her own childhood Barbies. Julie and I thought Barbies from the 1960’s were a little ugly (what? They were), but they did have some great clothes. Too bad Barbies of the mid 1990’s were a little to, shall we say, chesty for mom’s Barbie clothes. This happened to us in real life when Julie and I tried to wear mom’s old vintage clothes from yesteryear, but couldn’t, uh, fit in some departments, if you know what I mean.

I don’t remember a time in my life where I thought, “Gee, I hope when I grow up my body looks like Barbie’s!”

I do remember thinking things like,”I wish I was as flexible as this Barbie,” and “I wish I had a pet dolphin like Barbie,” or “This Barbie camper is the coolest! I hope I get a real camper someday.” Now that I’m a (partially) adjusted 22 year old, I know my waist will never be a small as Barbie’s and my legs will never be that long or tan, I do still want a pet dolphin.

My parents and other influential adults in my life-like my grandparents and Mr. Rogers reaffirmed my self-esteem. They also encouraged me to play sports and play outside when I could pull myself away from Skipper and Stacie long enough to get some Vitamin D. All of the other adult women I knew (mostly my friends’ moms), did not look like Barbie’s. Surprisingly, very few of them even drove pink convertibles or lived in Fold ‘n Fun Houses.

This was the Barbie dolphin I had, yes if made noise.

Somehow, somewhere, at some point in my life it clicked: Barbie is just a toy. Whaaa? Although she does a lot of cool stuff, like babysit, own a supermarket, drive a camper, have 15 pets and swim, all of these things resembling things that real people do in real life, she’s not actually a lot like a real person. First of all, she lives without any parents in a tiny house in my toy room. She has out of control long hair like a religious person who doesn’t cut it, but I know she doesn’t go to church. I think the real giveaway for me was the pink. I like pink a lot, don’t get me wrong. It was just suspicious that EVERYTHING in Barbie’s world was pink.  I mean pink cars, pink uneven bars (I had gymnastics Stacie), pink jet skis, pink bedrooms, pink kitchen appliances, even a pink grocery store. I’ve been going to Schnucks my whole life, that whole place is not pink.

My young, yet very sharp little brain put two and two together and realized that Barbie was a toy who lived in an awesome, very pink, yet very unrealistic world. So I stand behind the point of this whole post, Barbie did not make me crazy vain or give me superhuman expectations on my figure.

She was just a toy, along with my other toys that did not translate well to real life. I probably figured that about the time I learned dinosaurs didn’t talk and sing and make crafts with kids in preschool.

Let me real with you. If my generation of young women has been poisoned by beautiful, yet innocent Barbie, the girls of today are gong to be RUINED by Bratz.

To begin, Bratz are telling your daughters, nieces, granddaughters, neighbors and other impressionable young children of the world to be a brat. That’s just what the world needs, one more brat. Couldn’t we have chosen a less selfish name, like the “Kind Kids” or “Women of Integrity” (holler CJA!)??  No, let’s just call this little dolls “Snotty,” “Rude” and “Entitled.”

I do think the “z” in Bratz is cool though.

Besides being poorly named, they also have the weirdest heads ever. Weirder than Cabbage Patch Kids and Hey Arnold put together, that’s weird, people. They are just so big. I don’t want the girls of today thinking they need bigger heads, imagine the emotional damage!

If Barbie’s outfits were scandalous, Bratz outfits should be rated XXX. These dolls have the tiniest skirts and high boots. Is that sending our youth the right message?

I know I’m probably a little biased thanks to being born in 1989, but really, I think I turned out ok in spite of all my exposure to Barbies.  Will my future daughters someday play with Barbies? Of course! Someday I will give them my old Barbies and try not to be mad when they break them (thanks mom) and make fun of their 90’s chic faces.

Don’t even get this lady started on Disney Princesses!

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2 Responses to “This one’s for you, Barbie!”

  1. barbielea May 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    Brilliant – I too have read the “shocking Barbie measurements” post a few too many times, usually accompanied by a picture of that huge grotesque model that somebody made, that’s meant to be a scaled-up Barbie. The last time, I wrote a reply – which I thought was quite reasonable and fair – asking why the model thing didn’t, er, look at all like a big Barbie if it was to Barbie’s measurements. I got a bright “thank you for posting” back, but no explanation. Anyway, great post and you’re quite right about the z. Best wishes 🙂

    • smwhitney May 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

      Thanks for sharing! I think it’s time to cut Barbie some slack and start focusing on other ways we can improve girls’ self-esteem.

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