In the year 1992, it was found that the average American girl owned 7 Barbie dolls. However, with all this popularity, this so-called icon of America has caused a lot of grief for the manufacturer, Mattel. In a book entitled, Forever Barbie, author M. G. Lord talks about the "collective subconcious of America" that has been "taken for granted." The biggest problem that people have with Barbie is that she is misproportioned. If Barbie was human-sized, she would stand at 5 foot 6 inches tall, weigh 110 pounds, have a 39 inch bust, an 18-inch waist, and 33-inch hips. Critics believe it is this outlandish scale of the human body that is detrimental to young girls' views of themselves.
Now that Barbie is no longer a dumb blonde or some unsuccessful airhead (because of her multi-faceted career choices), I still don't understand why everyone picks on Barbie. It just doesn't make sense to say that Barbie is causing little girls to question their self-image just because she is not realistically proportioned. Raggedy Ann dolls don't make girls want to be a redhead, just like Strawberry Shortcake doesn't make them want to smell like fruit. (Maybe the critics should look at those Bratz dolls...?)
I would think that playing with Barbie dolls would be a positive influence because they'd make girls want to own nice things, thus attempting to be more successful. After all, you have to make money to have nice things like a Barbie Dreamhouse and matching Sporty Corvette.
How can people say that a healthy self-image comes from playing with a toy, when the rest of the environment of the young girl should be held accountable. What about commercials that advertise cars and pasta but show beautiful, buxom women?
When I was younger and playing with Barbies, I just thought it was fun. I was not coveting her forever tippy-toed feet or her pencil-thin waist. I just liked to dress her up and comb her hair, and pretend that she was going out with friends or on a date. Barbie was not a figure I vicariously lived through, but a doll that did things I'd one day like to do. Besides, I had my own idol to look up to as I matured: my mother. With a beautiful, intelligent, independent, and successful woman living and breathing and interacting with me daily, when it came to looking up to someone, what did I need some plastic doll for?
Inventor of the Week (profile) - inventor biography, doll history
Detrius Projects - Forever Barbie, proportions
January Magazine - Forever Barbie, M.G. Lord
Barbie's Website (Mattel)
[Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc. This webpage in no way affiliated with or represents the opinion of Mattel, Inc. or its affiliates.]