Opinion: Why Everyone Needs to Chill About Barbie

 

With the recent release of the new body types, Mattel’s Barbie has been making a lot of headlines. Most of the articles discuss how great it is that the impossibly high standard of beauty that Barbie has set in the past is now a broader, more inclusive, and more realistic ideal with variations in skin tone, hair color, and body shape. While the articles mainly express happiness with this shift towards lower expectations of female beauty, many call for even more change in the brand’s appearance.

It’s great that Barbie is now more relatable to a wider spectrum of young girls than she was before. She’s now more accessible and an increased number of people are able to identify with her. However, I did not really see a problem with her in the first place. I can honestly say I have never looked at a Barbie Doll and thought about how badly I wanted to look like her, mostly because a Barbie doll is just that—a doll. A common argument against Barbie is the fact that her features are unattainable and she should be more like the girls who play with her. The Mattel company clearly is unable to make a doll that each individual can personally relate to. Unless you order a custom American Girl Doll, it is highly unlikely that you are going to find one that looks exactly like you. This is also not the only doll on the market, so if you feel she is destroying the self-image of the American youth, you simply do not need to purchase a Barbie. The popularity of the doll has actually been declining for years, and although Barbie is a household name in the toy market, it is likely that many kids growing up now will be able to get through their childhood without owning or even playing with a Barbie.

Is it wrong that she is now more diverse? Definitely not. I embrace it. But calling out Mattel and chastising the company for not adding “acne” or “bags under her eyes,” as one Odyssey article mentions, is just absurd on so many levels. Barbie is a children’s toy, and the last time I checked, acne and eye bags don’t roll around until much later, (thanks, college) so this wouldn’t even be relatable to young girls in any way.

Hopefully the new body types for Barbie dolls will empower more girls and help them feel a stronger sense of self-worth; however, if a doll has that much power to affect a child’s life and self-esteem, maybe parental figures should worry less about the toy, and more about the way they should be uplifting and instilling confidence in their kids so that Barbie’s appearance will be irrelevant in their emotional development.