Posted by: kayleighlawson13 | March 28, 2014

Normal Barbie and Improving Body Images?

Normal Barbie and Improving Body Images?

I know that this is late, but I was having trouble finding a topic that inspired me to write about in this weeks blog initiating post. I finally looked through Huffington Post. I found this article about funding a potential “normal” Barbie. It would be proportioned more realistically, and the creator talked about it eventually giving girls a better image of what their body should look like.  He said at least if not for the children, then it might help the parents. Normal Barbie would also be wearing “normal,” everyday clothing. I wonder though if this will change anything for children.  Children tend to not care about these kinds of things.  They’ll likely be attracted to the title that the Barbie doll still has.  I know as a child I had a variety of different dolls from the popular chains, but I never associated my body image with them.  It wasn’t until I was too old to play with dolls that I found out that Barbie was an unachievable standard and that I should have been wanting to look like her.  I always picked my dolls by what they came with anyways. Does that Barbie have something relating to animals? If it did, you better believe that was the Barbie I was going to pick. Will making another doll help? Do you think this will help children to have better body images as they get older


  1. I’ve always taken the generic view that barbie dolls are an unhealthy expectation. Reading your post made me rethink that. I did not really develop any awareness of my weight until middle school and I would blame magazines and other girls more than the dolls I played with in my childhood. I am interested in how much unconscious thinking plays a role in childhood development if it effects kids without them really knowing.

    I still believe that Barbie is a bad product to have for kids and the natural Barbie may be a good replacement. But maybe Barbie is not as influential to children as we originally thought. I would also be interested in knowing if as we grow up and mature does the Barbie Image effect us even if we no longer play with them?

  2. You bring up a really good point in this post that I had never really considered before. You said that it wasn’t until after you were already too old to play with dolls that you actually started to realize that Barbie represented an unachievable standard. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I also didn’t fully understand that Barbie symbolized a false sense of perfection until after I had already grown out of playing with them. I, too, was also always more interested in the accessories that came with the dolls more than the actual dolls themselves. I stopped playing with Barbie dolls shortly before middle school and I don’t think that girls fully start to understand what Barbie actually represents until they are about to hit their teen years. It is during this time that we begin to realize that Barbie sets incredibly high standards for how the female body should look. I read that if you were to change Barbie’s dimensions to the average American women’s body size, she would look completely different because her current dimensions are not even feasible for a normal human to look like. The fact that they pack on makeup and short skirts on current day Barbie dolls also adds to the issue. This is why I do think that it may be beneficial to have a “normal” Barbie, but more so for older girls than the younger ones who actually play with them. As mentioned before, I don’t think I actually took into consideration what Barbie represented when I was playing with them, but I do know that the realization became more clear as I got older. So, I think that creating a “normal” Barbie may show older girls, such as ones in their teen years and up, that beauty really is more than just a pretty face, or a short skirt, or a number on a scale.

  3. This is a really interesting topic and something that I’ve also thought about before. I actually ran across an article the other day (I wish I could find it now) about a man who started creating a new line of Barbies, but looked like a lot more realistic women. They were trying to recreate the idea of beauty in women and show that little girls should not be raised thinking that the blonde, long-legged, skinny Barbie is the best way to be. When parents buy Barbies for their children, I don’t think they really realize the messages they are giving off to their daughters. This is a really great point to think about because these toys definitely socialize kids at a young age about what they think is beautiful. This new line of Barbies in the article could bring about a great new representation of womanhood.

  4. I think this is a really interesting topic. I have read articles like this, and seen the line of new Barbies that have been designed and I really have no idea how I feel about it. As a child I LOVED Barbies. I mean I had a ton of them, I have houses, and hot tubs, and cars, and you name it. However, I never compared myself to them. I never felt the need to look like them. Not only that but I think Barbies are way better then dolls like the Bratz dolls.
    But what does this mean? What does it mean that our society is so used to the fact that women are supposed to be overly sexualized that kids don’t even notice when a doll looks so unlike a real person? Although as a child I didn’t compare myself to the dolls, did it shape my world view on how women should be treated and viewed? I think changing the Barbies can only do more good them bad. Even if children aren’t comparing themselves to the dolls, will it help give girls a better sense of the world and what women can actually be and achieve? Although I loved Barbies as a kid, I think it is a great step that society wants to change them.

  5. As Jessica said, I believe that unconscious thinking plays a big role in child development. The fact that they are proposing a “normal” barbie must mean that there is a demand for that specific toy to be improvised. We’ve read reading, articles and even watched a documentary on how media plays one of the biggest roles in gender and social roles. If this doll was to be released, the first thing media will focus on is its appearance. Most toys are unconsciously molding the minds of children in my eyes and both parents and manufacturers know exactly how to pick toys based on gender roles and popular demand. Once parents decide to teach their children to define their on gender identity then it shouldn’t matter what toy they play with. The new barbie to me sounds like a good step in terms of improving social roles.

  6. In psychology we looked at an experiment examining marketing of toys to boys and girls. Girls were given toys to take care of and boys were given toys to use. Girls were given toys that were pretty and guys were given toys that were tough. We begin to see society making this distinction in childhood bu the toys we play with. They act as a subconscious model for how we are supposed to look and act. For girls, playing with Barbies can have adverse affects because she represents the ideal of beauty with blonde hair and makeup and disproportionate body parts. Girls suffer body esteem issues at very early ages, and I think it is due to, in part of the toys that they play with as children. It sets them on a path which makes them feel like in order to be desired and pretty, you must look a certain way. When they don’t look a certain way, they lose confidence and therefore motivation to pursue other things that they might if they were confident. We need to be more intentional about the messages we’re sending to young impressionable girls, and boys.

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