Barbie Image

As a child, I was a huge Barbie fanatic. I had a playroom filled with dolls and clothes galore. It was one of my favorite pastimes, and I remember the sheer joy I felt when receiving a new beautiful girl to add to my collection. However, there has always been the Barbie debate about whether Barbie dolls are effecting girls’ perception of body image.

I always found it humorous when I saw differing articles stating, “This is what a real-life Barbie doll would look like!” or “The proportions of Barbie are unrealistic!” I get it, Barbie is perfect and in real-life, no one is. But I never really understood the concern because I never had a second thought about my body versus my dolls' as a kid. However, in an article by The Conversation, it states that almost 40% of children are unsatisfied with their appearance. Furthermore, girls as young as the age of five have expressed a desire to be thinner - the facts are borderline disturbing. When 99% of girls between the ages of 3 and 10 are playing with Barbies, you have to assume there is some sort of correlation.

Thankfully, Mattel announced in January that the company had heard the concerns from their consumers, and a new selection of diverse Barbie dolls will soon be available. Tall, petite, and curvy dolls with different skin tones have since hit the shelves. This is a huge step in the development of toys, but there are a lot of other things children play with that aren't following in Mattel's footsteps. 

What about Bratz? This is another doll line that is owned by MGA Entertainment. I have always thought that the Bratz dolls were more inproportionate than Barbie’s, and I never understood why they didn’t get criticized as much as Mattel has. Perhaps it is their unrealistic cartoon-esque features? But something tells me that a stick thin body with hourglass hips isn’t exactly a good image for girls to perceive either.

And it’s not just the toys targeted toward girls - action figures have their issues too. When was the last time you walked through a toy section and found a realistically proportioned superhero? Boys are also susceptible to body image issues. According to Huffington Post, 1 in 4 eating disorders occur in males. However unlike the majority of females, boys are not looking to get more muscular instead of thinner. It’s very probable that superheroes and action figures have a correlation with a young boy’s perception of how he should look, just as Barbies have with girls.

So in short, yes, it is fantastic that Mattel has taken a step forward in creating a diverse collection of dolls. However, the toy industry has a long way to go. There are still a ton of toy lines that influence children and shape the way they view their bodies. Despite Mattel’s effort, body image in children is a large issue that needs to be addressed further. But maybe if we, the consumers, keep persisting on change, it will happen just as it did with Barbie.