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Do you think barbie dolls create a distorted body image for girls?

by chipp (follow)
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barbie doll
Photo courtesy of barbie.com


Barbie Dolls have been around for decades, and always seem to make the Christmas list. Do you think barbie dolls create a distorted body image for girls?

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This is the first year since she could talk that my daughter hasn't requested a Barbie doll! (Which I am glad of because her accessories are expensive). It hasn't affected my daughter's self image, but then her dad and I tell her she is beautiful and precious all the time, so she has never needed to have the thought that she is less than everything she should be. I think it is our responsibility as parents to instill positive body image and self esteem in our children and let them enjoy a doll if they want it. What about those Bratz dolls with huge heads? We don't see many people going around having operations to make their heads bigger because they had a Bratz doll. It's just a kids toy.


Well, yes and no. I read an article the other day that compared the sexist stereotypes in kids' toys and movies with the racist caricatures of yesteryear. It's food for thought.

http://reelgirl.com/2013/12/if-you-wont-buy-your-kids-racist-presents-dont-buy-them-sexist-ones/
I played with a box of handmedown toy cars as a kid, and I gave all the cars personalities - so the vintage car was the old man and the james bond car was like the spy/adventurer and there were some girl cars too (they were the pretty cars - less banged up). Is it the toy itself that's the enforces the stereotype or how you choose to play with it? Realistically, I played with those cars in the same way I would have played with a big box of dolls if I'd had one. I also used one of Barbies skis to be the man doll, as I had no Ken. So is it barbie forcing the stereo type or is it the child? Barbie was saying she was an Olympic skier, I was the one making her have a boyfriend...
It's not so much the individual toys as the repetition I think, when what girls are offered over and over is the same. But yeah, girls do have free reign to play with what toys they have in different ways.
It doesn't take a genius to see that Barbie's figure is unrealistic. I myself had Barbie dolls as a kid and I think I grow up just fine. But I agree that the doll indeed plays a part in creating the fashion trend where people try to be as thin as possible.
Take a look at the picture I posted with my answer, it is 'now' achievable!
How shocking is that.

It is now possible, for young girls to see what a real girl has done to herself, I saw it on Google.Just type in....... Girl who looks like Barbie
by jonaj
I'm not in favour of buying Barbies, but I think depriving children of toys is not the right strategy. It is important to have a conversation about how Barbies have an unrealistic look, and children will understand. HAving said that, my daughter has barbies, and a barbie palace, and she can play with them for hours.
I think barbie dolls can created a distorted image in girls. However, it also aids girls in learning to dress and coordinate clothing. So, it is sort of in the gray area for me!
Does it really? My Barbies all came with clothes that were so far removed from anything I would wear myself (big froufy dresses, crippling high heels) as a little girl that I don't think it helped me learn to dress in the slightest. I guess some girls play with them differently from others.
Chipp...are you a male? by any chance, because I can see then where your coming from.
If your a girl...I just can't.
by jonaj
Barbie dolls do set that expectation of that need to look exactly like Barbie, yet not everyone's bodies are designed that way. No body is perfect.
No-one's body is designed to look that way. If Barbie were lifesize could she even stand upright with those tiny feet?
Barbie's body proportions are simply unrealistic. I'm sure that if Barbie were a human then her internal organs wouldn't fit inside her body with that small waist.
by annep
They certainly don't help create a good body image, and the way toys for girls of all ages promote a preoccupation with how they look (clothes, hair, body shape) seems unhealthy. I'm sure Barbies don't do much harm on their own, but combined with a lot of that kind of thing (Disney Princesses etc.) they're not great. Bratz dolls and Monster High dolls are far worse though.

My 4 year old daughter has requested a Barbie for Christmas, despite not really knowing what a Barbie is (she just knows it's something little girls are supposed to ask Santa for). She's getting a Xena doll instead.
I would say Disney Princesses are the worst, if you are going to get into the sexist thing - they're a bunch of females, who with the exception of Mulan, sit around waiting for their Prince to come - one of them just sleeps until he does, one changes herself completely in order to do it and so on. I don't mind Monster High, cos they're kind of ugly but still cool - so infact they're saying their looks are irrelevant. We got the roller derby one (it was $7 at the supermarket) and my daughter thinks she looks weird but she's on skates so that's a good thing.
Barbie, on the other hand, can go to the moon, can be a scientist, teacher, dr and a whole lot of other things. We choose to get the frou frou numbers because they're sparkly...
Absolutely!!!!!!!! Barbie is a distorted body image for girls.
I can not stand Barbie Dolls yuck.
The picture on the left is a girl who has gone to extraordinary measures to make sure, she looks just like Barbie.

There is also a young man who has done the same to look like Ken.

If other young girls see what this girl has done, in real life....then there could be more.....trying to do the very same.
Sadly, yes.
I think it's an odd expectation that adults have created that children will compare themselves to their toys. Like many others on here, I grew up playing with Barbies. I only had one Ken, so I used to take my brother's army men (he would often play with me) to even out the male/female ratio. The fact that the Barbies were about six inches taller than the army men didn't even occur to us - they got married, dated, played sports and had jobs together just the same. They were toys, not real life, and the thought of trying to emulate them or aspire to their external looks was just not something that ever came up. That was left for traipsing around in my mum's shoes, or fighting with my cousin over who got to play the blonde one when we pretended to be in ABBA.
If you take a look at the picture with my answer, you see a real girl who did go too far!
Lets just hope that other young girls do not, follow this.
Young girls are very very impressionable.It only takes one person, to start a
Fad.
Image is a dangerous road for any young girl to get caught up in, I can say that from experience.
by jonaj
I really can't see that becoming a fad because it would be insanely expensive, beyond most young women's reach, and I would think very few people could ever look that way even with all the surgery.
Nope. No at all. I had 2 barbies. My first was the Olympic Skier of the Winter Olympics. She was beautiful in a skisuit and beanie. We then got her all the pretty dresses over time, including the white wedding dress. I loved her so much. I grew up and didn't wear a white dress when I got married, nor did I get depressed that I didn't look like barbie.
Does Cinderella make girls get distorted body images? She has a tiny waist but no one seems to care. I think it's just a beat up that started in the 70's and has continued. Why don't we ask it of Wonder Woman or any of the Disney Princesses?
Great question by the way.
People certainly do care about the influence Disney Princesses have on young girls. Google it, there are loads of articles about gender, race and body issues pertaining to Disney princesses. Seems like one comes up in my Facebook feed every other day. Check out the "Pink Stinks" Facebook page. Speaking for myself, I've tried to limit my daughter's exposure to them while she's little. As she gets older I'll let her what she wants but for now I'd rather she watch movies with some more realistic looking heroines who are "self rescuing". I'm trying to get in on the ground floor since decent female characters are basically absent from so many kids' movies and I want her to know that there other ways women can look and behave. It would be nice if there was more diversity than there is but I have to work with what I've got.

And don't start with Wonder Woman lol. She has, in most depictions of her at least, a healthy muscular body with realistic human proportions. She's also far from a passive heroine (unlike the Disney princesses), able to fight for herself and her people, with integrity and honour. This makes her IMHO pretty much an idea role model for a young girl. And people most certainly do question the proportions of women's bodies in comic book art all the time. Google "Escher spine" for starters!
Wonder Woman can fight but look at what she wears? Barbie is fully clothed (or was in the '70's. And if she's Kung fu barbie ( or judo - one of those),she's a black belt...
Some Barbies are fully clothed, some aren't. There's been a LOT of variety in her outfits over the years. I never had a kung fu Barbie (or even knew there was such a thing, but I would have liked one as a kid since I used to watch a lot of Kung Fu movies (I was too young but my older brother and I used to watch them together).

Wonder Woman's costume has varied over the years, become more or less exploitative, changing with the fashions of the time. There are versions of it I think are a bit icky, and others I'd be perfectly happy for my four year old to wear (to the extent that I am buying her a Wonder Woman costume for Christmas). It's just a skirt (not a particularly "mini" one, it's the length my daughter would normally wear), singlet top, bracelets, tiara and boots. I particularly like the armour she wears in some of the recent comics.It's simply not true to say that people don't question the influence of characters like her and their clothing and images.
You can buy the barbie black belt outfit now. Along with the astronaut one and other non dress ones. Yet they don't sell well...
That's cool. I've never actually been shopping for a Barbie.
Absolutely.. I was never a doll girl growing up.. too much of a tomboy. And I don't think you can blame all the problems of distorted body image on poor Barbie, but she certainly isn't helping matters.
They should have a post baby barbie. That stomach pouch doesn't go away so easily.
by Gia
Yes, I do. If she were real she would fall flat on her face because her feet are so tiny and her boobs are so big! She also wouldn't be able to have those pesky, trivial things called kidneys or a liver!
Barbie is just a dress up dolly for little girls. All the emotional baggage comes from adults telling inocent little girls that barbie is a dis proportioned sex symbol. For gods sake, let kids be kids and keep your mixed up adult hang ups to your self.
I think they contribute to the milieu that encourages unrealistic expectations about how girls and women should look, yes.
by Vee
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