Before you jump down my throat, hear me out. Let me start by saying that adult, twenty-something Meghan is delighted with the diversification of the Barbie brand. However, seven year-old Meghan is a bit disappointed.
Barbie was my absolute favorite toy growing up. I loved setting up my Barbie doll’s furniture, dressing her, and imagining what kind of life she had. Barbie was a role model. Not only was my favorite Barbie a pediatric doctor (complete with working stethoscope), she also looked smoking hot in a blue mini dress. When changing her blue mini dress, I noticed that Barbie had a tiny waist, long legs, and well-developed breasts. I believed that one day my boobs would look just like Barbie’s. This dream never came to fruition. To make matters worse, I grew up in a family with a host of blonde-haired, blue-eyed cousins. I always envied them. My dark hair and green eyes made me stand out in family portraits. When given the choice, my dark-haired Mother (the only brunette female in her family), always bought brunette Barbie dolls, hoping it would help me love my dark hair. (I didn’t truly love my dark hair until the age of 14, when I dyed my hair blonde. It wasn’t pretty. I blame Barbie).
I realize I had it easy. I was Caucasian. I can only imagine how inadequate ethnically-diverse populations must have felt back in the day. Remember when African-American Barbie looked just like Caucasian Barbie, only with darker skin? Not cool.
Before it sounds like I’m poo-pooing on my girl, I must mention that I truly loved 90’s Barbie. She had her faults, but I played with her every day of my childhood. Barbie helped me use my imagination. She helped me ponder my future goals and dreams. My Barbie was almost always a mother. She drove a minivan and obeyed posted traffic signs. My tendency to imagine this domestic scene helped me realize I want to be a mother someday. She also taught me that girls can do anything they set their minds too, and still look beautiful.What’s wrong with being pretty? Nothing.
Furthermore, I loved my Barbie’s sexy body and teased blonde hair. She was something I was not. She was a fantasy. That’s what made her fun! Recently, the Lammily Doll was created. “The first fashion doll with realistic proportions” offers stick-on acne and stretch marks. Though well-meaning, perhaps Lammily is what happens when adults overanalyze the importance of a toy, neglecting the necessity of parental guidance in understanding the diversity of the human body. While adult concerns are warranted, given the prevalence of eating disorders and low self-esteem in young girls, dolls are meant to be pleasing to the eye and a source of imagination. Seven year-old Meghan would choose Barbie over Lammily any day. (I started developing acne at nine years of age. I was glad my Barbie didn’t have to deal with this affliction. Our playtime helped me escape this ordeal).
(Courtesy of lammily.com)
Mattel has managed to strike a balance between imagination, beauty, and social responsibility with their new Barbies. The new dolls are more diverse, but still pleasing to the eye. (Let’s face it. Girls who play with dolls like pretty things. It’s just the way it is). Skin color, hair color, sizes, and ethnicities are varied, but gorgeous. As a fitness professional, many may wonder what I think of the new curvy Barbie. Some laud this Rubenesque doll as Mattel’s greatest achievement, while others believe she is promoting obesity. Personally, I’m extremely pleased with curvy Barbie. She is just that; curvy. She’s not obese, she’s healthy and voluptuous. Some women are naturally curvy and have larger frames. That is beautiful (and to a rectangular woman like me, it’s something to be envied).
Adult Meghan is tickled pink with 21st-century Barbie. Yet the question remains, would seven year-old Meghan welcome these new Barbies into her imaginary world? Absolutely, but this girl will always be her favorite:
…after all, we go way back.
What do you think, former Barbie girls? Are you excited about the new Barbie? Be honest. Do you miss the unattainable beauty of old Barbie? This is a complex issue. I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂