Since the 1950’s, childhood, especially for girls, has been defined by one toy: the Barbie doll.
She was anything that we could imagine her to be. Her resume is endless. Her adventures are never-ending.
But there was also a fair amount of criticism. Barbie was and still is blonde, Caucasian and thin. Her measurements, if she were a real woman would render her immobile. She teaches young girls that to be successful and happy in life, one must be thin, Caucasian and blonde.
Earlier this week, Mattel announced a new line of Barbie dolls, with a variety of sizes, skin colors and hair colors to reflect the reality and the diversity of women in America and around the world.
Some of the articles have referred to her as “Fat Barbie”.
I personally take offense to the term.
There are two problems associated with this definition of “fat”. The first is that it reflects a very narrow-minded vision of what is to be a woman and an attractive woman. The second is that our children are more perceptive that we give them credit for. If all our daughters see is that the only attractive woman is a woman whose clothes are no bigger than a size 6, then they will be forever comparing themselves to an image that is false. That leads to self-esteem issues, depression and eating disorders. We should be raising our daughters to be confident, capable women, not insecure and forever dieting to remake themselves into an image that will never be attainable.
Only time will tell if this new line of Barbie dolls are a success. While I admire Mattel for recognizing the reality of our world and wanting to make a difference, in reality it is only a drop in the bucket that contains many more issues and many more battles for true equality.
But I will say that as a redhead, it’s nice to see a Barbie doll with my hair color.