Barbie as a beauty standard

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At the beginning it was only Barbie. Then Sindy appeared (the cheaper version of Barbie). And that was kind of all around 1999-2000. Now we talk about Bratz dolls, Monster High dolls, Barbie, and so on. But what these toys have in common? A surreal, perfect, almost intangible look.

Ask a little girl why does she like a doll and you will see that the answer will be: “Because she is beautiful”. From here you can already guess my direction. That little girl already knows how beauty looks from that doll. And she will want to look the same, because that is the standard that she grew up with. That is the beauty standard that some toy producers imposed to a three, four, five years old girl. Not to mention the “Ken” side of the story. The fact that her Barbie doll has a perfect boyfriend will also wrongly standardize her expectations from the other gender.

barbie-doll1So that we can visualize better let’s deconstruct the image of a doll.

It is usually blonde with white skin (Caucasian). It always has long hair. It has big blue eyes, white teeth, full lips. Lots of make-up. It has big breasts, tiny waist and never ending legs. She is very skinny and it has thin arms. It is usually dressed very elegant or very briefly. Her foots are made only for high heels. This unrealistic body type can be harmful.

As body image expert Marci Warhaft-Nadler, author of The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents, explains: “Barbie sends our girls one message, and it’s this: ‘You can do anything and you can be anything—as long as you look like this: very tall, very thin, very Caucasian, and very beautiful.’”

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A british study on little girls’ psyche showed the negative influence of Barbie dolls on self esteem. The Developmental Psychology study reported that “girls aged five to six were more dissatisfied with their shape and wanted more extreme thinness after seeing Barbie doll images than after seeing other pictures” and that among girls ages 6 and 7, “the negative effects were even stronger.”

Another study showed that little girls that saw the image of Barbie are more likely to restrict their eating afterwards.

Nowadays this problem began to have a remedy. Toy companies started to produce dolls that have a realistic appearance and are age appropriate with the little girls. Here comes the choice of parents and their understanding of the impact that these so considered “harmless” toys can alter their child’s self respect and body standards.

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As a helping hand for making a good choice this powerful example of this mother that began to change the face of dolls by herself. Great initiative!

Article Sources: Dr. Rebecca Hains

Photo Sources: Dr. Rebecca Hains, Answer Angels, Desene Barbie

by Roxana Miron

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