OPINION: Barbie’s dress won’t fit

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

Abbey columnist pic (1)

 

Mattel recently unveiled three new body types of the most iconic doll in American pop culture.

For 57 years, little girls sat cross-legged in the middle of their living room, strategically changing their Barbie’s dress, revelling at her thin feminine figure and perfect blonde hair, only hoping one day they could look like her. Then puberty hit, and every teenager came to resent Barbie and her unrealistic body image and the immense amount of pressure she put on young girls.

Barbie has been criticized in the media as of late by everyone from feminist bloggers to medical examiners, dispelling Barbie’s proportions as unrealistic and unhealthy, as they could not be achieved with a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, little girls kept their plastic dolls firmly grasped in her small hands, aspiring to be someone pretty and thinner and more beautiful.

Until now. Mattel’s new Barbies are the biggest change in company history, marking the beginning of a new toy line but in addition, a change in societal values. Our society is progressing towards a more accepting view of all lifestyles and ideals: same-sex marriage was legalized last summer, Caitlyn Jenner won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the Espys, and Washington is constantly creating passing new legislation to discourage and outlaw discrimination.

Now, that same acceptance is outstretching to body image as well. American beauty has evolved, just look at Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj. The “perfect” woman isn’t just a long-legged, tan blonde with voluminous locks and sparkling blue eyes and that’s being reflected with by the new line of Barbies.

Introducing: Curvy Barbie. She has wide hips and thicker thighs, but she sports the classic pearly-white Barbie smile on her face. Her hair is blue and her outfits are trendy as she struts in her high heels. Following behind is Petite Barbie; she’s an African-American significantly shorter than Classic Barbie. In toe is Tall Barbie, a lanky, tan girl with shaved sides of her head and a long blonde quiff.

As the average mom saunters the toy aisle at Target, she will be most likely be pleasantly surprised at the dolls that differ from her childhood. The Barbies comes in many different shapes and sizes, hair colors, and skin tones. “The millennial mom is a small part of our consumer base,” Evelyn Mazzocco, head of the Barbie brand, told Time Magazine, “but we recognize she’s the future.”

I’m thoroughly impressed with Mattel’s strides to create a more tolerant generation of young girls. Not only will they be likely to accept themselves and all their flaws and features that make them unique, but they’ll also be less judgemental of others.

They will finally be proud to be a Barbie girl.

Originally published in The Chronicle on February 11, 2016.

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