The Barbie Debate

Barbie gets a bad reputation because of her look. We’ve all seen the posts on Pinterest or blogs that show what Barbie would look like if she was a real girl. We get it. Barbie’s appearance sets an unrealistic expectation for the way women are supposed to look.

But do you remember what it was like to be a 4-5 year old with a Barbie? Barbie was all about dreams and make-believe.

“My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”- Ruth Handler, creator of the Barbie doll.

When I used to play with the doll, it was about dressing her in the prom dresses I wanted to wear to prom one day. It was about Barbie being a business woman or a teacher or whatever profession I was fascinated with that day. It was about the wedding dress for her wedding. It was about her job. It was about her hobbies. It was so much more than how tall she was, how skinny or fit she was or the color of her hair.

Look at half of the toys we buy kids today. They’re witches and wizards and princesses. They’re a myriad of fantasy characters that we know the 3-9 year old imagination can run wild with.

Do we really have to blame a toy for eating disorders and body image issues? I’m a 20 year old girl. I am fit and in shape. I have curves. I am not a size 0 or 2 or even a size 4.

I played with Barbie dolls as much as any girl. I played with them, dressed them, cut their hair. I had the Barbie Dream House and the Barbie VW car. I used to carry them everywhere I went. I loved playing with Barbie dolls.

Never in my 20 years did I look at a Barbie doll and think that is what I am supposed to look like. I never held my Barbie up next to my mom and think my mom wasn’t normal because she didn’t look like Barbie. I never told my babysitter she didn’t look like Barbie. I didn’t even ask WHY women didn’t look like Barbie. The thought never crossed my mind.

Because Barbie was a doll.

Barbie was a business woman who dressed nice and I could be a business woman that dressed nice. I can wear the heels and dresses and still conquer the world. The size of my breasts, waist and butt can’t do that. What I look like can’t achieve my dreams and goals.

If body issues stem from anywhere, its from the magazines we read, the movies and shows we watch and the people we hang around. As a cheerleader, I sat and listened as my teammates criticized their bodies. Wanting the lose the pudge or the thunder thighs. And believe me, I know all too well the burden of buying pants a size too big for your waist so your thighs can fit it. I know the gap at the back of the jeans. I know the struggle of buying a swimsuit top in a small and the bottoms in a large. I’m not some itty-bitty girl.

And I struggled with my weight, still do some days. Wanting to be smaller. Wanting to be more fit. But that’s not from me playing with a Barbie doll when I was young. It’s from reading magazines that are constantly displaying headlines: “Miranda Lambert loses XX pounds,” “Jessica Simpson loses XX pounds on weight watchers” “Best and worst celebrity beach bodies.” They go on and on. How many weight loss shows are on television now? How many infomercials can we watch of drug x and y that does this better than that. This weightloss plan. New Year’s Resolutions.

Look at the people we see on television. Guiliana Rancic, Kendall Jenner… the people that model in the fashion shows we watch. America’s Next Top Model…girls were voted off for not being skinny enough.

And we want to blame Barbie for all this nonsense? Where are the rational thinkers? We set down the Barbie dolls before we’re teenagers. And we pick up the magazines, watching the television shows.

But overall, none of this is really this issue.

Yes, there should be a Barbie that looks like a size 6 girl. But there should also be supermodels that are size 6 that aren’t classified as overweight. The weightloss commercials need to be taken off certain programmings.

But for goodness sakes, let’s educate our girls. Let’s educate them with what’s normal. Explain B.M.I. Explain why our bodies need calories and fats to live. Explain why exercise is healthy but too much exercise is unhealthy.

If we’re going to explain why elasticity effects the economy, then we sure as heck need to educate children and teenagers on what it takes to nourish our bodies. More than the half a week the schools spend on talking about anorexia and bulimia.

Something as huge as our health deserves more than 3 hours of terrible videos. Knowledge is power.

Let’s let our girls continue to play with the dolls like little girls do. Let them rip all the clothes because the thumbs never fit through the holes in the sleeves, let them lose all the shoes, put men’s clothes on the women dolls. Let them get lost in their imaginations because they’re girls just wanting to play.