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Barbie’s biggest evolution since 1959

Last week, I accompanied my little cousin to the market to get a present for her birthday which had recently passed. We went to the toy shop and she told me that she wanted a Barbie doll. Checking the shelves stacked with Barbie dolls, I was actually amazed to see so many different types of Barbie dolls. Barbies with diverse shapes, skin tones and sizes as opposed to unrealistic Barbie we had back then in our childhood. Slim and sleek figured blonde, fair complexioned and blue eyed.

Influence of toys

Children, to some extent are always influenced by the toys they play with, especially in early ages. And early exposure to an unrealistic body ideal like Barbie can have a negative impact on their growing young minds. Barbie teaches little girls that it’s desirable to be thin and pretty, that their looks is what makes them beautiful. At an age when their developing young minds need to be taught values of character and goodness, morals and ethics, Barbie with its humanly unattainable body weight and proportions, teaches them that they need to look ‘pretty’. That this way they will be more readily accepted and liked by the society.

It might also encourage girls to strive for an unrealistic body image when they grow up. These girls become dissatisfied and unhappy with their healthy and normal bodies. Barbie as an inspiration gravely damages their body image and lowers their body esteem. They may even develop unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders. Commenting on how big an influence a Barbie doll can have on girls can be seen through Cindy Jackson’s life. A woman from United States who was so deeply influenced by the Barbie doll that she underwent around 20 plastic surgeries costing up to $55,000 to make herself look just like the Barbie body image. And there are numerous similar examples.

One great step

Considering how greatly their dolls influence children, this step taken by BarbieMattel is a great initiative, I believe. Mattel, the company that makes Barbie, has taken a wonderful step by creating dolls with diverse body types. These new Barbie dolls have various different skin tones and hair colors, and new body shapes and sizes. They promote a realistic and healthy body image that little girls can relate to in the people around them. These dolls include curvy, tall, petite with seven different skin tones and 24 hairstyles — including curls and undercuts.

Michelle Chidoni, spokesperson of Mattel says that these new Barbie dolls are “a better reflection of what girls see in the world around them.” These new Barbie dolls portray a positive and healthy body image that is natural and humanly attainable. Relatable to the actual girls that we see around us. It depicts a wider opinion of beauty. It tells little girls that they do not have to have a skeletal frame, slim waist, thigh gap and fair complexion to look beautiful. They can have dark complexion, curvy hips and thighs, and still be as beautiful as anything. These new Barbie dolls are promoting a positive and healthy self-image in developing girls.

Barbie

Barbie is a doll that almost all of us have played with at some point in our childhood. And Mattel claims 98% of brand recognition globally. So this step taken by Mattel to promote a healthy, realistic and positive body image is one great initiative. Through this step, even if one dark girl with curly hair, a girl with short height or a girl with normal healthy body starts feeling better about herself, then I believe that this idea has paid off.

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Ayma Mansoor

Ayma Mansoor

An engineer by profession, discovering her passion for writing. Aspiring to promote positivity!