Photo: The bodies for the Barbie dolls now reflect a diversity of shapes and sizes (Courtesy TheExaminer.com)
Lizzie Duke, Reporter
The favorite childhood toy of millions, Barbie, has evolved and will be joined by a larger variety of dolls throughout this year. Debuting four new body types, seven skin tones and 24 hairstyles, the Barbies are now supposed to be more accurate to human proportions and diverse.
According to USA Today, there’s some controversy around these new dolls, specifically targeting the changes in Barbie’s body shape. Comments such as “Let’s not normalize being obese; it’s not healthy” are circulating the Internet, but none of these dolls are actually obese. One is taller than original Barbie, one more petite and one curvier.
There’s a whole world within the culture of Barbie. Many children spend their early years creating a life for their doll; dressing her, buying her other plastic friends and finding themselves through imaginary scenarios acted out through her. Some level of each child’s personality developed from the life of that Barbie doll.
Attempting to increase women’s self confidence by making Barbie look “normal” is better than any woman feeling the need to change her body to look like Barbie. Yet, neither should be necessary.
No child should feel pressured to look like a doll, or anything other than themselves. Being confident with one’s body doesn’t require fitting into a category. It doesn’t require perfection, less clothing, more makeup or a doll that looks just like them. It requires nothing other than personal acceptance.
“I never played with GI Joes thinking I need a six pack,” Josh Haley, Health and Education Center staff member, said.
Changing a doll to look “normal” shouldn’t be the determining factor in self approval. That’s why the new Barbie bodies are both wonderful and frustrating.
Barbies are plastic. Sure, they’re perfect, but they’re nothing more than dolls. People are imperfect and that’s what makes them human. Women aren’t Barbies, and never will be, no matter how “accurate” they look.
Other dolls aren’t pressured to be “accurate.” Clifford was never questioned for making dogs self-conscious, as they could never be that big or red. Toys don’t need to look like anything other than toys.
It’s lovely that society is moving toward accepting all people no matter their outward appearance. However, it doesn’t automatically make any woman any more accepted than they already were.
There are more than 7 billion people on this planet. Just because these dolls have slightly more variety doesn’t mean they can represent people any better. Giving them thicker features and a few skin color options doesn’t make them suddenly represent all women more than the original extremely tall and skinny Barbie.
Defining any body type as “normal” is no less wrong than defining a body type as “abnormal.”
Just because they resemble a woman doesn’t mean women are suddenly going to be any more perfect than they’ve always been, or the dolls are any better. Don’t let a plastic doll make any woman self conscious. Just let the toys be toys and the women be women.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost