Poor Barbie. Girl just can’t catch a break. On again, off again with Ken, hopping around from job to job, and now, public scrutiny over whether she’s a good role model to young girls. She should just get in that sassy pink convertible and leave all the haters behind, except there’s one thing holding her back…she’s an inanimate object!
Another day, another meaningless battle against America’s sweetheart. The latest, an argument that Barbie is detrimental to a young girl’s body image. Some women, (and maybe men, but I doubt they’re on this crusade) fear that Barbie’s 3 inch waist, dainty appendages, and perky chest will set the standard for beauty. Barbie = beautiful, so Thin = beautiful. Therefore, I need to look like her in order to have any real inherent value.
I was a girl once, (hard to believe) so I can tell you first hand, I NEVER thought these things. I was thinking, ‘I wanna cut Barbie’s hair!’ ‘Wow, I’m so good at cutting hair!’ ‘Cool, I can bend her arm back really far!’ I didn’t look up to Barbie or try to emulate her. I played with her, because she was a plastic toy. Children don’t associate the meaning of things or relevance of objects to life until adults clue them in. Body image is gathered from personal experience and perception. Because “normal” is subjective not objective, children don’t put a label on what is good or bad, normal or abnormal until someone (usually an adult) plants the seed.
So Barbie is being criticized for being herself. (Or rather Mattel is being bashed for the scale to which they size their dolls.) But the pillage against Barbie has been similarly geared at models like the ones that grace the covers of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editions. Are these models setting an unrealistic standard for beauty? “They aren’t REAL women” are the fighting words that spew up the most. So long as they are living, breathing, and feel like a woman, that’s real in my book.
Which brings me to the issue of body shaming. Why on God’s good earth, as a woman, would you ever shame another woman about her looks? Fat shaming has been an issue for years, but now thin shaming is the new trend. If you can tell me to “eat a sandwich” why can’t I tell you to “switch to skim”? Because both are wrong and disgusting. If you want to make an argument for health, great! I applaud you for that! But unless you are their doctor, you should really keep their dietary concerns out of the equation.
I love when people defend their Barbie hate with the, If Barbie were scaled to human size, argument. If brought to life, Barbie’s thin neck would not be able to hold up her head, her tiny torso could not contain all vital organs, and she would be wheel-chair bound since she’s too top heavy to walk. So, if Barbie were a “real” woman she would be disabled. And anyone heading the charge on shaming a handicapped woman should be lynched. I know this is a ludicrous idea, but a ridiculous defense gets a ridiculous response.
Barbie is “#unapologetic because a woman should never have to apologize for the way she looks or the lifestyle choices she makes. They only thing there is to apologize for is how you treat another woman, and I must say, Barbie’s been quite a doll.
(This post was inspired by my recent appearance on Fox and Friends discussing the latest campaign between Mattel’s Barbie and S.I.’s 50th Anniversary Swim Cover. Read more about the #unapologetic campaign here).