Happy Birthday, Barbie!

09Mar09

Today, Barbie celebrates her 50th birthday.  For many, this doll is not only a reminder of childhood games but also the marker of what they thought a woman could be.  Barbie is, in my opinion, a paradox for feminism.  On the one hand, you have a woman who has tried and succeeded at every career under the sun, does not need a man for much other than a date to her many formal events or to be a companion on a camping or roadtrip.  On the other hand, you see the model of a ‘woman’ with an impossible bust-hip-waist ratio that would purportedly make any human woman topple over or split in half.  She seems frivolous and fashion obsessed but at the same time the epitome of girlieness and what a woman should be.

barbie50thanniversary1

Where does Barbie really fall?  Do young girls truly believe that tiny waisted, huge busted, long-legged, blonde, blue-eyed women are the norm?  I’ve read many an article that suggest that even when Barbies that appeared ethnic or African American were created, the standard blonde Barbie still prevailed in sales.  If anything, this should serve as an indication that, for whatever reason, even young children choose the all-American image when presented with a range of ethnicities.  Children in our society have essentially been brainwashed to believe that this is ideal.  While I don’t believe we can blame Barbie for this, I do believe that given the prevalence of this image in today’s society we should make a point to address body image and perceived beauty with children at a very young age.  I would never suggest not purchasing a Barbie, but would instead suggest that dolls which at least have the same hair and eye colour of the child be purchased.  If anything, we should at least push the idea that blonde and blue eyed is not the only way, and that brunette dolls (and little girls) are beautiful too.

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