When selecting children’s toys, balance is critically important. All kids should have a true diversity of toys to play with—dolls, construction toys, play food, craft supplies, vehicles, and so on—to encourage a richly imaginative play life.
Fashion dolls, however, have long been the sticking point in this plan. Fashion dolls can be really fun, but the most common fashion doll—Barbie—has become so riddled with problems that it’s a poor choice for little girls, even when balanced out by other toys. And I don’t just mean the body image issues everyone has heard about: many other problems pervade the brand, too.
Fortunately, many fun, healthy new fashion dolls have debuted in recent years. Thanks to these new offerings, there’s no longer a good reason to buy Barbies for little girls.
Here are five good reasons to avoid Barbie altogether:
1. Barbie’s beauty ideal is unhealthy and damaging.
Let’s begin with the reason everyone’s heard about. The best-known reason to avoid Barbie is crucial: The doll has an unrealistic body type and a rigid beauty ideal that studies show can be harmful to girls. 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.'”
The scholarly research documents Barbie’s negative consequences on girls’ psyches. For example, a 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 well-designed experimental study found that girls who played with Barbies were more likely to restrict their eating afterwards than girls who played with the fuller-figured (now discontinued) Emme dolls.
Studies like these influenced the creation of new fashion dolls designed with girls’ body images in mind: the Lottie dolls and the Lammily doll. According to Lottie’s creator Lucie Follett, she was inspired to create Lottie when she read a newspaper article about the Developmental Psychology study on girls’ body dissatisfaction after playing with Barbie. “This provided the inkling of an idea,” Follett explains. “We then went on to contact the researcher, Dr. Margaret Ashwell, OBE—formerly head of the British Nutrition Foundation—and her colleague Professor McCarthy. They helped us ensure that Lottie has a childlike, age appropriate body that is based on the scientific dimensions of a 9 year old girl.”
Educational psychologist Lori Day, author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, urges parents to choose healthy fashion dolls. “There are so many better choices for girls than Barbie,” Day argues. “So many fashion dolls, products, and media constitute a tidal wave of unrealistic body types and needlessly sexualized imagery, which collectively do send a harmful message to girls.
“In contrast,” Day notes, “Lottie Dolls, Lammily, and others present girls with a much healthier and diverse image of the female face and form. If there are better choices out there—and there are—why not choose them?”
2. Barbie products portray girls as unintelligent.
In 1992, Mattel’s “Teen Talk Barbie” infamously chirped, “Math class is tough!” Mattel recalled this sexist toy reluctantly, after the American Association of University Women brought widespread awareness to the issue.
You’d think Mattel would have learned its lesson from this gaffe, but apparently not. Just this year, Mattel had to recall its disastrous I Can Be a Computer Engineer! book featuring Barbie as a computer science student. Given our current widespread cultural attention to the importance of preparing girls for STEM careers, the topic sounds like a great choice—but I Can Be a Computer Engineer! portrayed Barbie as incompetent and constantly in need her male classmates’ help.
“‘I’m only creating the design ideas,’ Barbie says, laughing. ‘I’ll need Steven’s and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game.’ ”
Not cool, Mattel. Not cool.
3. Barbie has a race problem.
Mattel struggles to present Barbies of color in ways that surpass tokenism—in ways that are equal to the brand’s presentation of the iconic, Caucasian, blonde Barbie. Mattel’s advertisements and the dolls’ arrangement in toy stores (which Mattel cannot control, but does influence) both have a problem with this.
Unlike Bratz dolls, which competed with Barbie so successfully in part because of the dolls’ racial diversity, kids know that there is only one “real” Barbie—and that Barbie is blonde and white.
Even very young children notice this inequality, with heartbreaking results. For example, one mom writes:
Several weeks ago my daughter Boogie (who just turned 5) had a Barbie doll eaten by one of our dogs. Normally this would lead to a meltdown of epic proportions. This time, however, she shrugged nonchalantly and said, “She’s just the Black one.” Keeping my voice calm (while internally freaking out) I asked her if that made the Barbie less important. She said yes. YES. What? Black children, especially girls, need to be told that they are important. It isn’t something they just assume. The racial bias is simply out in the ether.
Boogie is African American/Caucasian with very light skin and bright red hair. She has hazel eyes. Her little brother Bear is African American. He is very dark. So I then asked if she thought Bear was less important than a white boy. She said yes again.
She couldn’t remember why she thought that or where she heard it. I was completely heartbroken.
Boogie’s mom is right to be concerned about her daughter’s perception that her black Barbie was less important than her white ones, as well as Boogie’s extension of this logic to her own baby brother. According to critic Ann DuCille, author of Skin Trade, dolls help children figure out who they are in relation to the surrounding world, and when multicultural Barbies are basically merely “dye-dipped” white Barbies—dolls “modified only by a dash of color and a change of costume” in inauthentic and unfair ways—the consequences for children are serious.
For black children, “Dreaming white is the natural response to what the child sees and does not see in society’s looking glass,” DuCille writes. Meanwhile, for white parents striving to raise anti-racist children, racial hierarchies in the toy aisle can hinder their efforts.
The young African-American girls I interviewed for my book Growing Up With Girl Power: Girlhood On Screen and in Everyday Life could readily see these inequities in the Barbie brand, as well. For example, Rhea, age 9, lamented that Mattel doesn’t treat the Barbies of color fairly. “For the black Barbie dolls, they give ‘em, like, orange [outfits] and everything before the white, and [for the white] one, they give her, like, pink and blue or something,” she observed. “A lot of black people hate orange!”
Madison (age 9) agreed with Rhea’s assessment. She told me how these politics informed her shopping choices: “I buy Bratz dolls because all of them—all the Bratz dolls are treated right.” After all, all Bratz dolls wore equally trendy fashions, and all of them shared the stage in MGA’s advertisements—whereas groups of Barbies are usually presented in a hierarchical fashion in Mattel’s ads, with white Barbie at the front, top, or center.
In addition to these problems, children also deduce that black Barbies are less important and less valuable than white Barbies when they see their disparate pricing in stores. Retailers have a pattern of pricing black Barbies lower than or higher than their equivalent white Barbies, with negative implications either way. (This is beyond Mattel’s direct control, but it indubitably exacerbates existing problems with the Barbie brand’s handling of race.) Retailers admit that these otherwise comparable dolls really should be priced identically—but all too often, they’re not. Sadly, disparate pricing of any kind sends a subtle message of inequality to shoppers perusing the toy aisle and should quite simply be against corporate policies.
For fashion dolls representing girls of color, check out the beautiful dark-skinned Branksea Festival Lottie and Kawaii Karate Lottie, as well as Butterfly Protector Lottie, who’s got medium skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. In the plush doll category, consider Go! Go! Sports Girls’ Basketball Taye and Soccer Anna. And in the Disney Princess lineup, the Toddler Tiana dolls are a favorite. (As I explain in The Princess Problem, I really appreciate Disney’s toddler dolls’ healthy body shape).
4. Barbie dolls are not age-appropriate for young girls.
Barbie dolls were originally meant for girls 9 to 12 years old. At the time of Barbie’s debut in the late 1950s, the doll was controversial because it presented such young girls with a sexy female form, and many parents objected. But the exciting new concept of the “teenager” (created by marketers of that era, akin to the invention of the “tween” category by marketers in more recent years) appealed to pre-teens, who enjoyed having a mature, aspirational doll to play with. Compared with the baby dolls that had previously dominated the girls’ doll market, Barbie and her career-oriented activities presented a whole new world.
With every new generation of children, however, the toy industry has increasingly felt the squeeze of age compression. Marketers have pursued revenue growth by targeting ever-younger children with their products, but in consequence, items embraced by little kids have fallen out of favor with the older children who originally enjoyed them. After all, no self-respecting child wants to play with a “baby” toy!
Therefore, in the aftermath of the successful release of Mattel’s “My First Barbie” in 1981—a simple, inexpensive Barbie doll meant for a new audience of preschool girls—Barbie has gradually lost its 9- to 12-year-old demographic. Mattel therefore abandoned the marketing of Barbie products to girls this age. To reach and captivate “tween” girls, Mattel execs realized they would have to create a new toy line–leading to the release of the Monster High line a few years ago. (Note that Mattel’s loss of the 9- to 12-year-old audience was accelerated by the success of the Bratz brand, whose edginess and diversity made Barbie seem hopelessly dated in young girls’ eyes.)
According to a recent article in Advertising Age:
For all her purported business sense, Barbie’s sales are falling. For the most recent quarter ending in June , worldwide Barbie sales dropped 15% year over year, the third consecutive quarter of double-digit losses. Barbie’s brand sales have decreased in eight of the last 10 quarters.
Toy analyst Reyne Rice said age compression, with Barbie dolls now appealing to a smaller age range of girls, is partly to blame, along with increased competition from edgier and more contemporary dolls like Monster High (which Mattel also owns) and Disney’s “Frozen” characters.
Mattel now targets girls ages 3 to 7 with Barbie dolls—but there’s no doubt that these girls would be better served by dolls without the problems outlined above, notes educational psychologist Lori Day, author of Her Next Chapter.
“I know a lot of women my age who played with Barbie and comment that it did not hurt them, and it’s true,” Day explains. “But I have to point out that the context for playing with Barbie has changed, and context matters. When I was a child, older girls played with Barbies, not preschoolers—and those girls were not barraged with sexualized dolls and hyper-feminine products set against a backdrop of pinkwashed girlhood. Barbie was naturally balanced out by so many other options for girls that have since disappeared from the market or are now labeled ‘boy toys.’”
5. Barbie buys its way into pro-girl spaces, appropriating girl empowerment to sell more dolls.
Mattel is the 5th-ranked global licensor worldwide, with $7 billion dollars behind it—giving it a value greater than many countries’ entire GDP. With such deep pockets, Mattel has a long history of insidiously buying Barbie’s way into pro-girl spaces, in an effort to “goodwash” Barbie’s problems away by its association with credible girl empowerment brands.
Examples of this corporate practice abound in minor and major girl empowerment brands and communities alike, but the most prominent examples are Barbie’s 2010 sponsorship of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day and Barbie’s partnership with the Girl Scouts, announced in March 2014. This new partnership involves the release of a Girl Scout-themed Barbie doll and a Barbie uniform patch for Girl Scouts to work to earn. Mattel paid the Girl Scouts a cool $2 million for this association in an effort to improve their brand image. Unfortunately, the deal damaged the Girl Scouts’ image and dinged their credibility, but given the organization’s financial problems, it’s understandable that they would make such a compromise in order to continue their service to girls.
Mattel’s affiliation with the Girl Scouts caused as much or more incredulity and controversy as the essay “Barbie” wrote when Mattel placed images of the doll in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition just a month beforehand, in February 2014. In the essay, Mattel appropriated feminist ideas to justify placing Barbie in Sports Illustrated, a publication known for reducing women to sex objects…despite having claimed for years that Barbie is a career woman who is a good role model for girls.
In machinations such as these, it’s clear that Mattel is not actually promoting girls’ empowerment—just Barbie. Barbie’s empowerment discourse is a marketing strategy, nothing more. For this reason, when I see blog posts trying to convince the world of Barbie’s empowering potential, I’m suspicious of the underlying motivations.
Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), agrees.”Mattel markets girls on the illusions of choice, telling them they can ‘be anything,’ but really, of course, the goal is to limit choices to the Barbie brand,” says Golin. “The Girl Scout sponsorship epitomizes Mattel’s attempt to make it virtually impossible for girls to make the choice to be something other than a version of Barbie. Traditionally, the Girl Scouts have represented everything Barbie is not: Girl Scouts’ mission is to build ‘girls of courage, confidence, and character,’ while Barbie teaches girls to focus on appearance, outfits, and shopping.”
For this reason, Golin explains, the CCFC has spoken out against the Mattel-Girl Scout alliance. “Coopting what had been the quintessential ‘anti-Barbie’ organization is quite a coup for Mattel,” he notes, “and a heartbreaking loss of Barbie-free space for girls.”
In conclusion, when you’re selecting gifts for the little girls in your life, don’t give Barbie a second glance. With just a little time and care, you can find a perfectly fun, appealing, and healthy fashion doll that the child will love and cherish.
Rebecca Hains, Ph.D. is a media studies professor at Salem State University and the author of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, a book meant to help parents raise empowered, media-literate daughters.
Rebecca is on Facebook and Twitter. If you enjoyed this post, you may follow Rebecca’s blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at rebeccahains.com/blog.
There are so many things we do not realize until somebody tells us. You are doing a great job Rebecca on having people informed. We may be doing such a harm to our younger generations in an unconscious way. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Alba, I really appreciate that.
I love the bratz
It’s the parents fault for not teaching their kids that whether someone is black or white they still matter. There is something wrong with boogie’s mom if her kid is racist and to her own brother. Barbie is awesome and just because the first Barbie made was white doesn’t mean she racist. Plus I’ve seen ads with a dark color Barbie on it.
Totally agree. As a parent it is our duty to be cognizant of what we instill in our children, our attitudes, and how we behave on a daily basis to give our children a good example to model after. They won’t know anything about the aforementioned issues without somebody (most likely a parent) planting that in their heads. I played with Barbie on a daily basis my entire childhood and I see my experience as an incredible creative outlet.
That is partially the parents fault…but not completely. But really, it is partially Barbie’s fault because When Barbie was first made she was Caucasian that’s not secret. But because they made only ONE form of her with being ONLY Caucasian, blonde, skinny, and tall had a great affect on the children who played with her. Kids can stop eating to make themselves look thinner, this is no secret either. They look at themselves in the mirror with disgust and can have a great impact on how the children look at themselves growing up. This can lead into anorexia, depression, anxiety ect. ect. And of course there are a small amount of racial diversity, there are African American Barbie’s, which are shown to be less important, hence the picture where the African Amercian Barbie doll is marked down half of the price of the ‘real’ Barbie. Again the racial diversity is very slim. Only, I repeat ONLY there are African American and the Caucasian. That’s it, there is more skin colors and races and body shapes then there are shown in the only two Barbie’s.
I completely agree. That is the parent’s fault, not the doll’s. That mother is projecting on a toy because she doesn’t want to accept her own failings. Barbie is an absolutely wonderful toy. I adored them and my daughter (who is 9, by the way) adores them. I’m so sick of all these people trying to de-feminize girls because they have a problem with womanhood. Discouraging a girl from being feminine, liking pink, wearing dresses, ever needing help, liking princesses, wanting to fall in love — THOSE are the damaging things. You are teaching those girls to be ashamed of who they are and to try to be more like men. Girls and boys are different, people. Deal with it. Embrace it. I would never give up my femininity, and I am very smart, highly educated, and completely support my entire family. I would NEVER purchase a Bratz doll for my child. I’m not going to give my daughter anything that encourages being “bratty” or “edgy” or that dresses like those dolls. You say Barbie is sexualized? Bratz dolls are disgusting.
Just because you love a brand does not mean it does not have issues, these issues can even be quiet terrible. It is a type of dissonance when we love something that is not good in some way. Your brain is trying to dismiss the harm Barbie represents in order to preserve your sense of love of it. However, it is much healthier for you, and the discourse around Barbie, if you simply accept that you love something that also has deep flaws. It is ok for you to love something that sends bad messages to young girls, but it is not ok for us to keep pushing those bad messages on to further generations.
I see them too but they are I. The back ways away from that Barbie in the front which is a white Barbie. Also all the commercials I have seen star white Barbies
Is this serious??? It’s just a doll. Almost all girls i know used to play with Barbies and they turned out perfectly fine. I can’t wait to buy my daughter her first Barbie. She’s only 1, so it’ll have to wait a few years.
I agree with that, they are just dolls! But, I can also see why people would turn on them after reading this. I think people should just give barbies to the right girls who won’t think differently of herself after playing with them.
How do you know which girls are the right ones?
Matt…you’re a guy, so you really don’t have any idea how much of an impact this ‘blonde alien’ had on girls growing up. And how do you know ALL the girls you knew that played with Barbie’s turned out fine? Because they acted fine? And when your daughter says in 10 years she hopes to look like Barbie when she grows up, what will you say to her? Ignorance is bliss…
A lot of girls have body image issues as they get older. This is not because of barbie. It is because of how the media portrays “perfect women.” in tv shows, movies and magazines. Little girls play with barbies. Usually not the older ones who are having body issues. When my daughter is 11, I highly doubt she’ll say she wants to look like Barbie when she grows up, because most girls no longer play with Barbie when they are 11 as they have grown out of the toy.
The article’s not saying that Barbie is the ONLY thing that makes girls feel bad about themselves. Yeah, expectations from other people and the media send bad messages, too. But it’s pretty impossible to protect yourself or your kids from every single bit of sexism or unrealistic expectations out there. What you can do, though, is choose not to buy Barbie. It’s not gonna magically stop eating disorders forever, but it’s one less negative influence on children.
Also, a lot of girls have body image issues when they are playing-with-dolls age. 42% of first to third grade girls want to lose weight. It’s not like people only get affected by the media when they’re older.
Bratz are better than barbie barbie sales dropped
I’m 11 and I love Barbie she is amazing. I don’t have body image issues because of Barbie
The only one that ignorant here is you. Don’t leave an ignorant comment just to complain. And you should really mind your own business about other peoples children. Do you truly think that necessary?
First of all I played with Barbie and I only played with her I didn’t give a hoot about what she looked like only weirdos do That it not like you give them to teenagers I mean she is just a toy also you can’t blame a toy to be skinny Andy if you want to go there do put Barbie down for being skinny now you are against skinny people
Yes, and by 6th grade, will you let her move with a boyfriend hu?!
LOL How does moving in with a boyfriend in the 6th grade have anything to do with Barbie?
I agree. This article’s report is very well made,and i quite agree with the black and white issue,but the rest is just pointless stuff that are unproved. A lot of stuff scientists say might be false. I used to collect barbies since the age of 9 years old,and i am chubby right now ! I dont think that a doll can have such a big impact on the kids’ health. In my opinion all girls have the right to have an idol and something to play
*facepalm* Firstly, they did have scientific evidence about the impact of barbie on the child’s body image, and psychological studies on child body image are extensive (as in not likely “false”). And while non scientist often misinterpret discoveries, that doesn’t mean the “science is false”, it means the journalists don’t understand science well enough. Secondly body image issues don’t lead you to be fat or thin, but they might heavily affect your self worth while being fat or thin. Furthermore, watching even 10 mins of one of barbies vapid shows as an adult is horrifying. It basically teaches that you get by by making sure your hair is perfect and you have the right accessories. Any real work, she gets others to help, or she somehow magically gains skill in a new craft. Now, speaking as a pediatric nurse, 2-6 year old children do not have the same brain development as teens, nor adults. They simply do not possess the logical ability to be told “this is not how it really works” and truly understand it. That part of their brain is not developed, it’s just starting to develop in the age group you likely belong to. This is why young children copy what they see, not what they’re told (a bane of many parents), this is why Barbie and certain media are particularly toxic to children under 6. You can’t simply tell them, “your waist should be thicker, you can be great at math, you should care about the inside”. You have to model that, in life, in play, in media.
The point of this article is simple, there are better choices for toys out there, and it is not hard to steer clear of barbies.
Quoting the article, ” ‘I know a lot of women my age who played with Barbie and comment that it did not hurt them, and it’s true,’ Day explains. ‘But I have to point out that the context for playing with Barbie has changed, and context matters. When I was a child, older girls played with Barbies, not preschoolers—and those girls were not barraged with sexualized dolls and hyper-feminine products set against a backdrop of pinkwashed girlhood. Barbie was naturally balanced out by so many other options for girls that have since disappeared from the market or are now labeled ‘boy toys.’ ”
So, this article specifically goes over the argument of “Almost all girls who play with barbies turn out fine”. I feel like people ought to read the entire post (despite it being understandably long) before posting their opinions. This is not an attack on anyone personally; I’ve done so before in other situations, but reading comprehension can play a big part in sounding reasonable.
I love barbie movie
Totally agree. As a little girl I played with Barbie dolls and never thought of starving myself to look like them. To me they were not skinny dolls or perfect dolls, or idols – they were Mary, Katie or Tatiana – my ‘friends’. Why not ban the teddy bears in case they encourage kids to become obese? Why not ban Halloween costumes in case they make kids turn into real-life monsters? This article is rubbish. Both me and my 4 year old love to play with Disney Princess dolls. And we will continue to do so no matter what ‘experts’ say 🙂
Yes this is absolutely serious!!! It is just a doll, but it gives the future of the world to look at themselves in the mirror with disgust and wish they were tall and slim and blonde.. Not everyone is going to have the same experience as you and your friends. Having one kind and only one kind of role model being unrealisticly shaped and not having a racial variety? Look at the picture shown of the afican American and the Caucasian Barbie. The African American is marked down half the price of the original ‘real’ Barbie doll. Is that really how we want to show our kids that Race and Diversity plays a big part in the world and we should be discriminatory? But you can parent any way you feel is right, its your kid. But I hope this can help you be a little more opened minded.
But because it didn’t happen to you or your friends doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. As a Latina, I never liked Barbie because she didn’t look like me. I loved Jade from Bratz dolls (even through she wasn’t the Latina) because she looked like me. And ALL of us have had/have racist thoughts because thats how we are raised, not specifically by our parents but mostly by social constructions, for example when you connect beauty with white – light skin tone/straight hair and messines and ugliness with dark -skin tone /curly hair. So if you can avoid those thoughts in your children by just buying a different doll why not? Also, kids are very sensitive to everything and its crucial for them to have a safe inclusive space where they can learn how to accept and love the differences all humans have.
Turned out fine? Are you aware how common eating disorders are? Are you aware how many women have low self-esteem, and/or hate their bodies and the way they look? Very very very common. Barbie is one of the factors here. Just saying.
Technically, it’s kind of Barbie’s fault for the eating disorder things, but remember that other doll brands can make girls feel bad about their bodies. I mean, at least Barbie tries to BE a good role model to girls (and boys). Take Bratz for instance. I’m 13 and I love Barbie and Bratz. It makes me wish that I could wear some of the clothes that they had. Anyways, Bratz is the one with big lips, big heads, and stylish clothes. Unlike Barbie, they kinda look like Kylie Jenner clones if you ask me (remember her lip challenge?). I mean, at least Barbie doesn’t have big lips and big heads like Bratz does. So my point is, other doll lines can make girls feel bad, not just Barbie
Why some boys does not watch barbie regular??
I have always loved Barbie dolls. I am 66 years old so I experienced the introduction. I begged my mother for a Barbie doll. I’ll never forget or understand how she came up with this reason but she told me I coudn’t have one because shewas afraid it would turn me into a lesbian. No kidding. I was so young I didn’ even know what a lesbian was.
I know my little girl does not like them
My argument is that they should ban Barbies because they are not healthy for little girls. They would have a negative consequences about themselves and why they want to be so thin like a barbie doll. This kind of doll could be very harmful to them. Barbies are unhealthy dolls and they should play with Lottie dolls or other healthy dolls are fine with them to play with. I think that barbies are not appropriate for young girls. First, they could copy Barbie or they just want to dress like her.
I am 63years old I’ve b3n a Barbie girl since they first came out I tight so my granddaughter s to be Barbie girls I think there great e love Bratz to children don’t play with. Toy because of what it looks like we didn’t turn out with body issues from Barbie but e differently don’t like Barbie feet to small they can’t stand up Bratz can they have normal sized feet and can stand up going to get me a new Barbie are Bratz not sure with one got a new great-grandfather to teach don’t ever take them way there great in Montana in the windows of bar there Barbie from every year she’s been here they belong to me and there been on display long time still add one each year did you know you can get Barbie in any shade of color of skin hair and eyes and
three type of bodies in any job skill you want
math is pretty tough though.
this math comment made me lol. I had tons of Barbie dolls as a young girl (I’m 49). I loved playing with them and dressing them up. I’ve never really thought about how they influenced me (although I do concern myself with body image, maybe more than is healthy?—is it due to the Barbie dolls, who knows). I am an auditor (not a flight attendant, although I loved my Barbie airplane….and did dream of being one). Thanks for your thoughtful insight on this subject. I probably will not buy Barbie dolls for my friends having baby girls. We do know a lot more now and there are so many wonderful “toy” choices for boys and girls alike. Not just barbies and GI Joes anymore 🙂
You made me laugh, thx. I think they could’ve worded it differently, but math IS hard.
Mathematics is pretty tough for me as well
You shouldn’t admit that unless you are male or Asian🙄
My daughter played with Barbie and she has a Biology degree from University of Illinois.
She would most likely agree with this article.
So my point is.. it is nature AND nurture.. she excelled in science/math areas DESPITE being exposed to Barbie.. but she definitely voiced that she noticed the unspoken rules of fashion/fairness/ equality.
The reason we need to be more aware is that some kids don’t figure this out on their own. Big discussion… as we are all differently wired, and that’s ok too:)
This was wonderfully written. Right up until the point where you started encouraging bratz dolls as a good alternative to barbie. At least barbie dolls have clothes sold separately for those that are inappropriately dressed. Bratz dolls are dressed like club hopping 21 year olds at best. And their paper dolls….forget it. My daughter had to layer on the outfits. “Look mommy here’s her bra and underwear” (refering to a shirt and shorts the doll had come with).
Thanks for reading. I think you misunderstood–where did I recommend it encourage Bratz dolls as a good Barbie alternative? That is not a recommendation I would ever make. Hm.
of course its not shes an 11 inch doll, until they make a shrink ray then maybe
I understand because they seem to never have a diffrent race barbie which people don’t see they should change the sizes people would like to choose and if people would like a skipper Chelsea or Stacie doll they should sell them in one box separately and sell them with the barbie dolls I just think changes should be made .thank u ms Rebecca for the advice
While this was a good story, I would have to disagree with it. I grew up playing with barbies for a long time. Being a bigger person I have never had any problems with what is suggested. The day my niece was born I bought her a barbie doll in hopes that one day she would love them as much as I did. I still go down the barbie isle at toy stores just to think back on the good times I had. I have a very good and creative imagination, I don’t have unhealthy eating habits, and I do encourage others to play with barbies. I even collect them to this day.
Right on. I consider myself a feminist and also an enthusiastic collector of 1980s Barbies (and all ’80s toys), and do NOT consider Barbie to be harmful. In fact, given some of today’s harmful influences (overuse of technology creating a very narcissistic culture), I find Barbie or any other toy which encourages children to use their imagination a breath of fresh air. While I now consider them to be more than a little too slightly sexualized for young girls, I had many at the time, and did not wind up with body image issues. People need to lighten up–this is just a toy.
Also, and I don’t mean to sound sizist, but why should they have to make a Barbie with different (larger) proportions? Since when is it healthy or normal for toys to have to reflect the overall growing waistline of America?
And a last comment for the original author: Regarding your insistence that there is a lack of ethnic diversity that’s reflected in Barbie dolls, I strongly urge you to look up different Barbie models on eBay and elsewhere online, and you will find a very impressive variety of ethnicities: Native American, Puerto Rican, African American, Mexican, Brazilian, Spanish. And not one of them have blue eyes, white skin, or blond hair. 🙂
Fantastic comment and as another collector, I wholeheartedly agree with you! Particularly on your last point, as some of the comments made in this article on Barbie’s handling of race are simply incorrect. I strongly suggest the author check out the Barbie Basics line, particularly Collection 1 which showcases six different skin tones and a range of ethnicities. The Basics dolls are stunning and the whole point is that each model is different.
Plus, it is just downright ignorant to suggest that today’s black Barbie dolls are merely ‘dye-dipped white dolls’. I can name 3 African-American head molds off the top of my head: Pazette, Mbili and Desiree, the latter of which has been around since the early 2000s and is used for a large number of AA playline dolls. I totally agree that in the 1990s, black Barbies were spray-painted white Barbies, but that is NOT the case any more. I would really encourage the author to do some research into the modern range of face sculpts and skin tones and update this article accordingly, as such ignorance takes weight from some of her other points, which are valid and very serious (for example, stores pricing the black dolls differently than the white dolls is ridiculous and should be illegal, and don’t even get me started on Mattel’s racist distribution of the Holiday dolls in Europe).
Lastly, I am white and some of the most treasured Barbie dolls in my collection are black. I have a fair few Hispanic and Asian dolls too and there’s always been a wide range to choose from.
I agree I’m 63 going to get a new one . on your statement about different sized dolls ? Its the best change ever .people aren’t all skinny are the Same height I’m very curvy and bigger size I would love to get one like me .are if your short are tall are small .now yu can get any shade of skin from white to dark any color of hair and eyes on any type o body that got to be the great things yet . Will let you kno ho to get one soon as I get my look alike one orders lol they don’t have extra fat size yet lol i would order It having trouble with key board sorry
Yes! I played with Barbies all the time as a girl and collect them to this day. Barbie (and all similarly-built fashion dolls-I’ll just stick with Barbie for simplicity’s sake) is just a toy. Whether or not she screws up a girl’s body image and/or views on race depends on several factors-the girl’s age, the girl’s maturity level (which can be even more important than biological and chronological age), the way her parents raise her (involved parents who teach their kids critical thinking skills, acceptance of all races, and a healthy body image tend to be the critical factor in how the kids turn out)
Great read, i too grew up playing with barbies and i may not have a damaging body image of myself but i can openly admit that i have always felt like there are areas i would love to improve. not sure if this can be based entirely on the barbie industry but i do agree that what young girls are exposed to can create a subconscious need to be a certain way. some have an inner strength to by pass this and feel empowered never the less and i admire so many that do that but a lot of girls and especially now get bombarded with what they should look like on a daily basis its almost impossible not to feel disappointed with what you have been handed naturally.
Do you really think that a) if you hadn’t played with Barbies you wouldn’ thave parts of yourself you wish were different and b) that it’s not NORMAL to wish parts of yourself were different? Honestly, nobody is perfect and there is NOTHING WRONG with a young girl wishing she were thinner if she is chubby, or wishing she had a smaller nose if it’s too big. I don’t get this society where somehow everyone should be OK with absolutely every aspect of themselves, have no complexes, focus zero importance on dieting and beautifying oneself…what’s the fun in being a girl, then??? There will always be a girl prettier than your daughter at school- and your daughter will always feel envious of that prettier girl. That’s NORMAL, that’s not WRONG. If it turns into an eating disorder or something else, it’s because your daughter was raised wrong, or has mental issues, not because she played with barbies. Just like video games with guns don’t push people to commit mass murder unless they’re insane, barbies don’t drive girls to hurt themselves unless they’re insane. I personally was a chubby kid and NEVER once compared myself to my barbie. I never even asked myself if she was prettier than me…that’s something only adults ask themselves. I feel like most women who don’t want their kids to play with barbies are the ones who have issues with their own looks vs barbies’ rather than concern for their kids. They feel bad about themselves, their appearance and their weight and they project that on the dolls and ultimately on their kids. Extremely good looking women probably don’t see anything wrong with Barbie and I doubt their children would either because hey! Barbie looks just like mommy.
Sorry but that overweight Lammily doll is downright gross. Overweight people shouldn’t be in bikinis and while Barbie’s waist is unrealistically small that overweight doll might be what everyone these days look like, but not what they SHOULD look like. At least Barbie’s body is something to inspire to…why would you want to motivate your kid to be fat? Trust me, a fat kid will have a much harder time at school than one with a few body image issues. I know, I was one.
I am wary of how Barbie may affect my daughters’ views or beliefs – however my childhood play with the toy included a pattern I found in my mothers sewing drawer which I used to make dozens of outfits by hand for my doll with old scraps. Today, I’m mesmerized by the 11″ doll dioramas on Pinterest and more. Meanwhile, my daughter is four. She prefers the skipper and youthful shape of the younger doll counterparts. And I prefer dolls that illustrate a career or positive activity like a vet or chef. And how can you beat the independence and solidarity with her peers – her car can take her anywhere and she has dozens of friends. Barbie is what you make her.
I didn’t realize monster high dolls were also made by Mattel and were a response to Bratz…. ah, that makes sense to me now. I find that my daughter faced a lot of peer pressure to play with monster high dolls starting when she was 7, when her same aged, media saturated friends played with them non stop. I had a much worse reaction to those things than the barbie exposure a few before…because their bodies are so revoltingly sexualized. (I cant even begin to describe their vapid teenage character content/ plot lines from the show… ) I didn’t want to forbid them entirely so I expressed my concerns and told her I just couldn’t feel ok spending money on them. I allowed her to buy one with her own money, and since then her friends gave her two as gifts… but they seem to be used only when her neighborhood friends bring them out. my daughter also noticed that barbie clothes are HUGE on monster high dolls… it’s as if barbie is a size 12 and monster high dolls are a size zero. are they going to eating disorder camp on their monster high school break? can we see body diversity in dolls, not just “average” proportions but actual “overweight” ones- what, a size 18? now *that* I would buy.
And I also think they should have pregnant dolls where u can have the baby clothes strollers and diffrent stuff just to put good taste into it
Me to .now Barbie comes.in petite ,normal, sporty ,big and curvy and tall sizes. any shade of skin ,hair are eyes are body type you want .going to go get a big and curvy one now and im63
IMO: Barbie is a doll, and dolls don’t need to be realistically portioned. I had Barbies when I was little and I never looked at Barbie and thought I should look like her. My favorite Barbie set when I was little was the veterinarian one.
I always thought the different-race Barbies were actually Barbie’s friends – but I guess that was just the dolls I had.
Dolls DO need to be realistically proportioned. It teaches kids to look like one thing Tall, Slim and Blonde. I’m going to say this a million times until someone understands, when I was young I looked at myself in the mirror and compared myself to a Barbie doll, not everyone will have the same experience as you will have like never comparing yourself. But the racial diversity is open to two races, African American and Caucasian.
You do realize that barbie is name of the white one( the main character) and she has friends that are a variety of different races with different names right? They are called Barbies based off of the main character but they are a group of life like fashion dolls.
They were supposed to be her friends you think Barbie can have a band if they were all Barbie with different hair are race .lol then,i m guessing i never liked Barbie,i like red and brown hair.
The Disney Princess dolls are really the best, but I also like the Monster High Dolls. Many of them have no specific race (being monster teenagers, not people), and they are adorable. I would have loved those when I was little.
Reading this was quite an eye opener, particularly in light of the racial tensions we are feeling in the aftermath of the Grand Jury decisions regarding Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice. Some of the things that are brought to light by comparison to another thing really illustrate the problems more clearly.
I had a fridge box full of Barbie dolls and accessories and my favorite was a Buisnesswoman. She had a suit and a briefcase and sensible shoes. She lived in a house with her sister, one of the beach bunny type barbies and was always trying to get her sister to go back to school and make something of herself. I was very into the story I could write for them, My own little soap operas you might say. The lesson I took away from Barbie is that even if you look like a supermodel you don’t have to be one, You can be anything you want, no matter what you look like, Just because she is beautiful doesn’t mean she can’t also be intelligent, funny, compassionate or savy at business.
Maybe that’s just me but I never looked at a doll and thought I should look like that. Barbie wasn’t proportionate & I always thought that made her look a little off. But looks don’t matter to me so I loved her anyways.
I give Barbie dolls to my nieces, they enjoy r he gifts. Its adults, fixated on proportions. Its a toy! My wife even collected Barbies and accessories for a, while , she enjoyed reliving her chuldhood. And being able to buy extra not able bail able before. Lighten up folks.
I would agree a race even racist element to Mattel 12,” dolls. Barbie is blonde, a few friends are Asian appearing. Black are the least popular. That must make an impression on young girls. I worked at the height of the Cabbage Patch doll craze. Once appearing shipment came in before Xmas, a, stampede in sued. One doll was left, un purchased after shoppers pushed , yelled to get a Cabbage Patch Doll. It was black.
Exactly! Barbie inspires girls to exercise their creativity and be whatever they want to be.
When I was a kid, I played a lot with Lego. Therefore, I have always wanted to be yellow and run around to smash the world so I can build it up again. I also climbed in trees, so I’ve wanted to be a monkey too. I liked dinosaur toys, so I spend every day growling and eating people. Oh, and I loved teletubbies, so I’m considering carving out a piece of my stomach to replace it with a TV.
What a great article. I have enjoyed reading this very much. Kids will learn how to love themselves as we evolve away from the need for Barbies and the racial tensions it create. As far as body image problems we see this a lot with kids with low self-esteem. When we can get kids to love themselves and not try to follow what they see on TV,in the magazines, or in their box, the world will open up to the beauty inside of them.
Maybe the little girl in point 3 was just acting out in anger because her mother named her “Boogie.”
This is the stupidest shit ever! You people really need to get a life. You create your own problems and just look for things to bitch about. Here’s an idea, why don’t you lock your kids inside the house or put them in a plastic bubble because it’s not going to be a Barbie doll that creates problem in their lives. Read Mikael’s comment above!
Dayna, what problems are you talking about and why do you think a subject being discussed is “bitching?” And, sorry, I’m not going to pay attention to comments from someone who actually watched teletubbies, lol….puhleeze. The great thing about our country, if you’re from the USA, is we all can raise our children how we see fit. I like to think people evolve and learn and can do better every generation. Has nothing to do with locking kids in a house or plastic bubbles. Just learning to bring out the best in children that’s all.
Of course I see today that teletubbies is lame and cheesy, but when I was a kid it was the shit. Yes, the USA is fantastic, such a great country etc etc, spoken like a true patriot. And that just confirms what Danya says; you guys probably had a conference or something that went like “Damn it, we have nothing more to bitch about… I know, let’s make a big deal out of something pointless!” Btw, your comment “we all can raise our children how we see fit.” made me laugh. Hypocrite much?
And you ignore problems that alredy exists so what is worst? So you are going to tell us that Barbie wasn’t created for white people to white people? And that the mentality in the company hasn’t change through the years. This article is for the parents that want their children to do right in life and parents who want to learn about social problems. If you think the earth is flat and the world is perfect then good for you, but don’t come and shit on people who want to do better.
Parental input and guidance has the biggest influence on how children play with and perceive their toys. When my Mom knew I didn’t care for Betsy Wetsy she accepted my love for the Barbie doll my paternal Aunt gave me. How my Mom guided me was to get involved with my love for designing doll clothes. My maternal grandmother got involved, too. Barbie was an exotic mannequin for me and she never became more or less than what I wanted her to be. And that was influenced by conversations with my Mom.
Any toy can turn into an unhealthy influence if the child’s playtime is not supervised and if parents do not observe and respond to what type of response the toy is bringing out in their child.
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Besides Barbie being my favorite doll, I also enjoyed Mrs. Beasley. I don’t feel like I have to look like Barbie, (though I would love to) and I don’t feel the need go walk around in a blue and white polka-dotted apron all day long, either. I did however wear octogon glasses one year in 5 the grade. I guess Mrs. Beasley messed me up big time.
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Sorry mam but I disagree with you . I’m 13 and i’ve a large collection of Barbies , and great thing is ,I never wanted to be skinny , blonde and white-skinned . I want to be like Barbie ,who is the most successful doll with 100 + careers . Has anyone ever heard Barbie saying ” Come on girls be skinny , be white ,hate blacks and look sexy like me !” ??? Some people are blindly following these . And nowadays , boys are collecting and loving Barbies too. That’s a girl’s mindset how she thinks . Everyone has a different opinion , mind and thinking . Well , I’m glad my parents still buy me Barbies without any hesitations . And girls love to play with Barbie , they don’t care how her body prportions are . And I think only dirty – Minded people can think that Barbie is Over-sexual .
Sorry if I hurted you.
I am also 13, and Barbies were my favorite as a kid. My sister and I made adventures with our dolls, and not some “I wish I was skinny” crap, no it was hardcore super adventure stuff, where we were super heroes, or fairies, or even princesses, or just people. They made me happy when I was able to make my own world better than this world now. I didn’t care how she looked because I didn’t notice. Barbies also gave me friends to play with, because I wasn’t the most popular kid and I’m still not. I don’t have body issues because of Barbie dolls, I feel self conscious sometimes because there is so much pressure on middle school-even high school girls. So no, Barbie didn’t do any thing to affect my growth.
I don’t agree with any of this to be perfectly honest. Barbie did start out as a doll, yes, but then there were movies about her that I watched from a very young age. I purchased every movie and watched them countless times, got dolls everytime I went out, but I was never focused on barbies body! I think that’s dumb thinking, when I was playing with Barbie as a young girl my thoughts NEVER included “why doesn’t my waist look like hers?” I didn’t even know what my waist was!
The story about Boogie I kind of understand. But to be perfectly honest that’s probably her young mind thinking that a whiter doll is prettier than a darker doll, it has nothing to do with Barbie itself. With her brother again, her skin is light his is dark. She might like her skin better cause to her it might be prettier. That’s a simple fact.
Young girls don’t have huge thoughts like “why doesn’t my hair look like hers?” When I was young the only body related thought I had was toward Ariel, the Disney princess, jealous that her hair was a beautiful red and mine wasn’t. But I quickly got over that thought, as soon as I got a Barbie doll that looked like her.
Barbie is more than some dumb blonde doll. There was a website, movies, a TV show now, the dolls, Barbie has been around so long! Have you ever heard a child say “why don’t I look like Barbie?”
I’m still in my younger years and I’m lucky not effected by the Barbie. Even though I have many I am I and Barbie is Barbie. I don’t have to look or feel like Barbie to be beautiful. I won’t stop buying babies but I know I will always look beautiful. Thank you Rebecca for helping me feel this way.
I think the computer engineer book was trying to reinforce cooperation in the workplace. If it had been “I need Jennifer and Steve to help me code” it wouldn’t have been so controversial. I’m a great graphics artist, but can’t code for crap. It’s ok to recognize other people’s talents.
As far as the age thing, I like my 5yo having an adult doll to play with too. Playing with a baby doll practicing for motherhood is a little narrow minded given that it is no longer 1950. It’s nice from that standpoint to have other options to play act with.
At least Barbie looks somewhat human what about he man and supper man all my gijoe comics show tough muscular men and nobody says anything that much
i think barbie is the best dool ever… do you think that?
Yes, in all her incarnations. Yes!!!
This has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever read. Barbie is the white blonde doll. The other dolls are not barbie but her friends. That’s the whole point. And there’s a hell of a lot more things damaging body image than a doll
I Think it’s what we make of it. The Barbie doll figure is humanly unrealistic. So are many other dolls and playthings that also don’t look like real people. This is the point of playing pretend. engaging their brains, social thinking, recreating the environment that they experience on a day to day basis. it is so very important for small children and even young children to learn how to play pretend. it’s an important skill that helps them in their day-to-day life and the more our children are engaged with TV shows, iPads, and video games the more speech and occupational therapists are seeing the need to teach young children how to pretend in their play. The skill is essential in speech and OT therapy.
when my 5 year old first got Barbies it was a small box from a consignment store that contained a variety of Barbies with different skin tones and hair. Her favorite is the black one while she herself is a white girl with light brown hair.
I once said to her, “You know, girls bellies don’t really look like that.” She said, “I know that. She’s just pretend, Mom. ”
Yup. She is.
Yes ! I totally agree , when I was young I was just fascinated when i looked at Barbie , so stupid people even don’t realize what a child actually thinks when he/she plays with Barbies . My parents never actually taught me that Barbie doesn’t looks like a real person because they think that it’s just a toy and I never try to look like her
Even on Barbie’s youtube channel , i saw a comment on a video saying
“She has everthing and i like her , I want to be like Barbie !”
And mattel’s Reply
“All it takes is a big heart like me(Barbie)”
Now what do you say ?
I want to tell the haters they should check out amazon , toyrus and ttpm and see different races and varities of dolls .
Even the new fashionistas line were based on different races of dolls and I loved them so much !
You just need to watch “Who is Barbie” on YouTube ❤
PACE (Positive Attitude Changes Everything!)
You make so much sense.
Children develop their skills in imaginative play first. As they grow they learn to reason, analyze and criticize. They will be able to discern the pros and cons of Barbie when they are older. Give them a variety of toys and guide their imaginative play for the few years of early childhood. I agree with you all the way.
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Is this article serious? It’s just a doll. I know numerous people who played with Barbie when they were young and they are perfectly fine. Everyone know Barbie isn’t realistic. I can’t wait to buy my daughter her first Barbie! She is only 1 so it will have to wait a couple years.
As a parent i allow my daughters to play with monster high dolls and barbie dolls. My 5yr old is in kindergarten and is about 7″ taller than the other kids and weighs more than them obviously. She has never ever once said a word about the dolls waistlines or unrealistic proportions and do you know why that is? Because she is a kid and they don’t give a crap about that stuff when looking at toys!. This whole ideology on barbie and other dolls be unhealthy came from adults looking for a scapegoat to their own insecurities based on other issues in life. Furthermore, Monster High dolls encourage far more diversity than any other doll company, from skin colors, to differences in issues. The second protagonist of the show and number 1 best friend of the loosely used term “main character” is an African-american werewolf, as well as the, again loosely used, main characters boyfriend is the brother of said werewolf and African-American. Seems like Mattel went above and beyond what was asked of them wouldn’t you say? Adding to this another main character has scars all over her face that make her look like a burn victim and my daughters absolutely love her and she is in their top 3 of favorites. Mattel took Monster High and with its launch they righted almost every wrong they ever made. All of the monster High movies show girls that the GIRL is the hero no matter if she is pink, white, brown blue, burnt, crippled can’t speak, has an accent or anything else that makes them unique. So again i say its not harming children, its the adults who are by saying these things openly on the media. I will continue to allow my girls to play with their dolls and have their adventures with them because imagination is the greatest thing in the world.
However, just to flag that – when I pointed out
inside post – millions of views alone just isn’t proof of ROI
through the marketing station.
This document is honestly no way to inform parents on weither or not to buy a Barbie.
1) Just because your kids has issues with it doesn’t mean you tell everyone it’s terrible
2) I grew up with Bratz and Barbies and I grew up fine. I actually love my African American skin and favor every race.
3) If your child is racist towards people because of dolls don’t stay there and blog about it actually do something you never know when she grows up because that one unfaithful day she may run around trying to make Black people go extinct
4) It’s just a doll.
5) It’s just a doll.
And 6) ITS A DOLL ITS A CARTOONIC DOLL WAT YOU WANT IT TO BE ANATOMICALLY CORRECT!?
I am 15 and I’ve played with Barbie till I was 11 and I never had a single self esteem issue the whole of my life. It’s just a doll, get over it. And Barbie really encourages children (not just girls) to be anything they like. And if you see some of the Barbie movies like Princess and the Pauper and Life in a Dreamboat you’d realize Mattel doesn’t encourage girls to be just superficial. Rather the brand aims at preaching kindnesses and goodwill to young girls.
But other children have problems with their body figure, it can lead to problems like Anorexia, Depression, Anxiety ect. It is a doll that millions of kids play with. She has one body, no matter how many skin colors and races they put into her she will always have one body. Blonde hair, blue eyes, Small waist, Tall figure, medium bust. But they try to teach children they can be anything as long as they look like that.
If you base your self worth on a doll, then you seriously need professional help. I played with Barbies and Sindy’s and I never once wanted to look like her. I did want the pretty pink dresses, but I knew she was a doll. When I started secondary school, I still played with dolls and wanted to keep playing the games that we had played at primary school, however, my first week of secondary school stopped all that. And it wasn’t Barbie, it was the other girl’s in the playground, treating me as strange for still having an imagination or wanting to play netball. The attitude from them was, why do you want to play games when you can stand in small groups and take Mick out of others. Any bad messages I have ever gotten about self image has been from other women, not from Barbie. Because despite what the feminists claim, the biggest critic of women is women.
Barbie is a great role-model. She helps encourage girls to go after their dreams and that they can be anything they want to be! Barbie has been everything from a burger-flipper, doctor and president and everything in between! She gifts girls the confidence they need to succeed!
Very good tips,Thank you very much…I Love this.
This article is awesome, and I agree with everything in it. As for everyone who thinks Barbie has nothing to do with body image, how many of you were given toy stethoscopes or kitchen equipment or hardhats so you could use your imagination and have a sense of what it’s like to be a grownup? Toys are meant to leave an impression. Barbies totally tell little girls (and Kens tell little boys) what they are supposed to look like when they grow up. You can’t just say that no one gets affected by a doll.
That’s right! I guess some people can’t wrap their heads around the system that we live in. They even defend and idolize a flipping doll.
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There are definitely diversity problems with Barbie. Probably because the executives at Mattel tend to be white so they push the blond Barbies continually saying they are the ones that sell, Even staying away from the diversity of Barbie the doll is just no longer safe. Some sort of gunky glue like substance is used to hold the hair in the head and this stuff actually leaks out of the dolls head. Imagine your young child, since Barbie is in fact marketed to toddlers now eating the substance that Mattel swears isn’t toxic so no problem if your child eats it. Totally irresponsible for them to allow this gunk in the dolls head.
awesome article and great tips. thank you very much
very wonderful baby doll thanks a lot.all the best.
One thing you missed in this, though: Barbie’s motto is “Be who you want to be”. She went to the moon, even though no female has ever walked on the moon. She was a doctor back when that was frowned upon. She’s a NASCAR driver, even though few girls are part of the sport. She may not have the most motivational figure, but she teaches girls that you can be successful and have heels to match. Plus, it encourages imagination, something most kids nowadays are lacking.
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I agree with Raven’s earlier comment,it’s not playing with Barbies that puts pressure on you,it’s other,bitchy girls at school who can make you feel bad about yourself.I also don’t really like the Bratz dolls because I think they look tarty and too “Streetwise”.My daughter was into trains and cars when she was 2-4 years old,then she found one of my old Barbies from the 90’s in a box and started playing with her-and the doll was BLACK-I think it was Christie and she loved her.I am white and my husband is black.My daughter then wanted lots of Barbies,blonde,brunette,red hair-whatever,she just loves dolls!She’s not into Bratz or Monster High dolls.I played with Sindy and Pippa dolls and had 1 Barbie when i was a child and I have never worried about her body size-she’s just a Doll.
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I realize this was from 2014, but After reading this article, I simply could not move on without commenting. It is this type of “under the microscope” criticism that has sparked today’s revolt against political correctness and given birth to occurrences such as the widespread support of Donald Trump. Anyone who has had enough firsthand experience nurturing young girls can tell you that Barbie is no threat, and can be a wonderful springboard for creativity. If your child is demoralized by the disproportionate body of a Barbie doll, the toy selection is clearly not the weak link of the parenting chain. First, I would like to address the body issue. Toys (for the most part) are NOT anatomically correct. One suggested alternative, Bratz, is even worse in regards to body image (and more that I will touch on later). At least when she is clothed, Barbie does not appear to be anorexic. The same cannot be said about the Bratz dolls. Even more offsetting was the comparison with the doll that was adjusted to fit a younger girl’s proportions. If you examine one, it is clear that Barbie does not have a real butt to speak of. There is a divot in the bottom of the torso, but in reality, all she has is a point where the legs connect to the torso. On the other hand, the second doll has a definite, larger butt. I had mentioned before that toys (the ones intended for children at least…) are not anatomically correct. It seems that by introducing such a doll, the manufacturer is creating more problems than it thinks it’s solving. Children aren’t influenced in large part due to the fact that they can clearly see the doll is not an actual representation of the female form. A naturally thick butt is more influential (and sexual) than an obviously impossible waistline. My final critique will take us back to the subject of Bratz dolls. Even if you feel that Matel is incencere with regards to their support of female empowerment, at least they do support it. Conversely, the Bratz dolls reinforce the some of the worst qualities found in modern society. Anyone that wishes to argue this fact need simply look at the first thing that signifies at Bratz doll… It’s NAME. Bratz dolls put emphasis on a materialistic outlook. They may have some redeeming qualities, but that would place them at par (though worse in my opinion) with the dreaded Barbie doll. The fact that the author even mentioned them as an alternative makes me inclined to believe that either research was not put into the Bratz dolls or worse that this whole article was created in order to sew feelings of distrust for one company and uplift another (though I am not actually accusing the writer of this… unless it’s true). I realize that I have ranted on this topic long enough, and that it is very likely that no one will even read this delayed comment, but I have said my piece. If you read this, and got to the end, YOU ARE AMAZING!!!
I agree with you 100%.
i read it all & agree with everything you said 👍
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I am 62 years old and I had the first Barbie doll with the ponytail. I also had Ken and Midge and then Barbie with the bubble hairstyle. I remember vividly all the hours I spent playing with Barbie and Ken. I loved it !! I also had the Barbie car and house and lots of Barbie clothes. I treasured all of it. I don’t remember ever wanting to look like Barbie. I always found her clothes to be what I most enjoyed. I think there’s a big overreaction to Barbie. Barbie IS a white doll. She isn’t black and she isn’t fat or curvy. And the doll shouldn’t have to be either of those things. There are lots of other dolls out there. We all can’t be tall, thin, beautiful and blonde. We all can’t look like Heidi Klum. Who by the way has biracial children. It’s up to parents to foster a healthy body image, not Mattel ! And it’s time to stop treating our children like delicate snowflakes. Parents do their children a great disservice by doing this. You can’t fix everything in the world for children. Instead of dictating what type of dolls should be made I would strongly suggest directing parental energies towards a healthy lifestyle with respect to good healthy food and regular exercise. That’s the best thing you can do for your daughters. How many of you women who are whining about Barbie allow your daughters to eat fast food and consume a lot of sugar ?? Parents are the final word on whether their children are lean and healthy or fat and unhealthy. I’ve raised three daughters, who all played with blonde, thin Barbie and committing to a healthy lifestyle is far more valuable than playing with a “curvy” doll. And my daughters all are raising their children to eat healthy and exercise. Do your job as a parent
I am of your generation, Donna and agree with you all the way. If you notice Dr. Haines has not replied to many comments. She is outnumbered and has no intelligent response to offer.
“Barbie was naturally balanced out by so many other options for girls that have since disappeared from the market or are now labeled ‘boy toys.’”
Seriously? There have been LESS gender neutral toys when Barbie came out pretty much everything but things like outdoor toys (bikes, scooters, trampolines etc.) and the electronics of the day was labelled a boy toy or a girl toy. If you look through the toys of the 20’s through the 90’s on http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/ you’ll see that most of them were meant for or marketed to one gender. If anything, there seems to be more of a gender neutral toys craze than ever. Sure Teddy Ruxpin, Furby’s and Tamagotchi’s were for both genders and marketed as such, but so are their modern equivalents. Parents seemed much more opposed to letting their son’s play with dolls when I was a child vs. now. I played with “boy” toys and didn’t give a hoot, and maybe now in 20andfreaking17, we just need to encourage children to play with what they wish to play with, whether it’s a girl toy or a boy toy.
1: as a kid, I never went “I wish my body looked like barbie,” because I didn’t care, I just played with my toy.
2: Barbie is not portrayed as dumb she is an astronaut, a teacher, a fire fighter and every other job imaginable. Math class IS tough.
3: Barbie doesn’t have race problems???? Also barbie is based of of a real life white girl so??? It’s just a. Toy wdyc
4: little girls do not care what barbie looks like, I just played with them. Sometimes I would stomp on them with toy dinosaurs, and wrap them up in toilet paper to be a mummy.
5: how is that a bad thing???
This article is only an adults perspective on Barbie dolls. Take yourself back in time in your mind and remember when you were 8 playing with barbie, brats, etc. My brother had these shirtless muscular GIO figures. No one cared what dolls bodies looked like, no little girl is thinking about that yet.
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Today I read this article after purchasing a Barbie, and I am wishing it was the other way around.
My daughter requested a specific doll and after seeing the price difference between the black and white doll, it made me question the value we are giving to black girls.
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I’ve noticed that Barbie clothes in 2017 seem quite frumpy compared with 10 yrs ago. I wonder if this is giving into political correctness too much.
It’s not just about the desiring the unrealistic barbie body, the barbie movies and advertisement promotes frivolousness and limits perfection to looking good, being sugarcoated and overtly girly.It sets unrealistic standards..it’s not adults who understand the reality who play the dolls..it is the young generation who plays and they lack reason..and can easily get swayed.
I think people who conceptualise barbie and its movies should grow up and think outside everything pink, sweet and princess and promote wholesome entertainment broadening their vision.
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Hi I’m 12 years old and I love dolls barbie, monster high, ever after high, brats, and descendants. I have no problem with the dolls body type or my own I think you and many other people are overreacting if a child has a problem with his or her body type it’s not just because of the doll. And being African American and having many other different races friends such as Indian, jamaican,Hispanic,Caucasian,and Mexican I can safely say that there are many different races of barbie dolls children that cannot see that all the dolls are equal are retarded and racist and know exactly what their doing we kids are not clueless We know things. Also yes most of the pictures are of Barbie the main character of the Barbie doll franchise. The doll was named and locked after the creators own daughter. And if you didn’t know all of barbies friends and family have names. Also if you were the main character of your own doll line wouldn’t moat of the advertising be about you. I am 12 years old and know more than you about how words can hurt others feelings you adults are the ones who should think before you speak. And last time I checked your post could be considered Ciber bullying to some people. I hope you have read this and thought about your actions against others. Thank you
I didn’t continue reading this article as I realized it was published in 2015. It’s now 2017 and Barbie has come a long way. Since 2015, Mattel has been releasing Barbie dolls with different body shapes, skin tones, and height as well as different races. So that makes your claims illogical, unreasonable and biased in the present time. I’m not saying this in defense of Barbie. I find it unfair when some people put the blame on the innocent fashion doll for body image and weight issues among girls and women. Many women tend to have these issues not because of Barbie, but they have been bombarded by the images of how women should look like and what society dictates as beautiful. My little sister used to play Barbie when she was still a kid, but the doll has never been an influence on what she thinks how she should look like. Over the years, she has gained weight and she doesn’t give a damn what people say or think about her body because she is so secure about herself. So the body image and weight issues still depend on the kind of thinking a woman has. If she’s plain stupid, she’s a potential victim!
A kid is not plain stupid. A kid is learning! And it took the company 50 years to make changes and that doesn’t sound good to me. So I will choose a different doll when I can.
Not all girls are interested in Barbie or any dolls. My niece is only two and seems to like animals and her brothers toys more than girls things. She’d rather run around outside in T-shirts and leggings than dresses. That could change, but right now it doesn’t seem likely.
Honestly, I don’t think any of the reasons above are reasons we should shy away from buying Barbie’s for our young girls. Educate your kids and help build their self-esteem with your words and actions as a PARENT. Period. I can honestly say that not a single insecurity I had as a child stemmed from my playing with Barbies, and I had them all as a young black girl…they stemmed from mean kids at school whose parents did not raise them to value and embrace differences. It is nice to see Barbies with dark skin and curly hair these days. I think it is nice to have a doll that looks like you, but again, having a mixture is perfectly fine.
Beautifully said because you have the confidence from within. That is beautiful, too.
I played with barbie dolls when I was young, and thought nothing of the body shape they had until I hit puberty (ahh, the horror and humiliation!). Why don’t I look like that? Took me until I was right into my thirties before I realised….Hello? Not a realistic body shape! And looking like that won’t make me happier.
I’m not sure I’d want my now two year old niece playing with barbies. She doesn’t seem that interested (except in the shoes. She loves shoes). Rabbits, though, are her favourite animal. Since she has two older brothers, I don’t see her being a “girly girl”. She’s very
active, loves music and doesn’t know who- or what- Barbie is.
Usually no one plays with Barbie dolls
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This article was so helpful! I am doing a project about how men, women, and children perceive the Barbie doll, and this literally saved my life. This article was shocking though. I never really played with Barbie dolls, but its unbelievable about how unsupportive they are about females, especially since they have all that crap about ’empowering’ stuff. The robotics book just proves what kind of world we’re living in.
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Okay so no old teen plays with Barbies and no little kid thinks of the shape of her body and I don’t find on thin wrong to give a kid a Barbie they think nothing of it and most kids don’t really remember the books when I was little, I didn’t care what Barbie looked like I only cared that I put my favorite dress on her. But who really cares that much about what barbie looks like she is just a doll, she is also a character who is skinny it’s like changing a person for being skinny ,in a way, I just don’t get the point to change what Barbie looks like if no one cared before
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Damn, really? I just wanted to make my barbies fuck and kill each other.
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