How to Get a Body Like Barbie

Culture

*TW: Eating disorders and anorexia. Please proceed with caution.*

Have you ever wondered how to get a body like Barbie? Of course you have! Look no further than this easy to follow step by step guide! Step number one:

  1. You can’t.

Barbie drove herself into our hearts with her bright pink sports car, and she had kids around the world begging their parents for the toy after just one commercial. Selling millions in movies, games, shows, merchandise, and more, it's no doubt that Barbie is one of the most prominent toys out there.

Though nothing about a child’s toy should be controversial, Barbie has managed to show us there’s nothing out there she can’t accomplish.

History of Barbie

On March 9, 1959, Barbra Millicent Roberts was introduced to the world by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel. Handler got the name from her daughter after she saw her playing with paper dolls.

She wanted to give her daughter, and many other little girls, a 3D playmate that inspires them to become anything they wanted. Though she was a big hit, nobody could’ve predicted the legacy Barbie was about to create.

The Negative Side

It’s nothing new to know the toy has attracted negative reviews from people over the years. The reasonings range from them claiming the doll promotes unrealistic body expectations, body image issues, self-esteem, and over-sexualization.

Promoting unrealistic body types is the most common complaint about the doll. Mattel denies this being their intent, insisting the doll’s proportions were meant to make dressing the doll easier. People argue this claim by saying the doll doesn’t have to have the same build in drawings or animations of her. The doll’s proportions have been shut down by professionals, saying Barbie wouldn’t be able to menstruate or hold her head up, and would be severely anorexic.

Body image issues and self-esteem is another claim. A 2006 study found that young girls exposed to the doll had a high chance of experiencing low self-esteem and body issues.

Some sites even promote eating disorders to look more like Barbie, but thankfully none have been able to make it mainstream and most get taken down.

Oversexualization concerns have also been raised. Some argue the doll dresses in too revealing clothing for a child’s toy, such as cheerleader Barbie. Others scrutinize where Ruth Handler got the design for Barbie from—Bild Lilli, an adult gag gift.

Testimonies:

“Personally as someone who identifies as genderfluid, I find that barbies give a really specific view on femininity. They taught me skinny/hourglass bodies are ideal, but also that anyone who is a girl should look like that.

In today's world, we can reevaluate what it means to pick a gender label, but when I was little, I was encouraged to play with dolls because “girls play with girl toys.” This showed me that to feel appreciated or accepted as a female, I had to want to be a Barbie…” -Clara

“As a girl who always stood out for her weight, barbie dolls have contributed a lot to my insecurities and have created a hegemonic belief that skinny equates to beautiful.

Seeing the same body type across barbie dolls made me feel like I wasn’t normal for having the body I thought I was blessed with. I also grew up watching barbie movies and she soon turned into my role model.

I became obsessed with the clothes she wore, the tall skinny legs, and her hair. After comparing girls in my class to barbie (sic), I noticed the girls obtained the (sic) qualities similar to the doll that I wish I had…

Because I was so young when I indirectly compared myself to other girls, I didn’t see anything wrong with it...Not only can barbie dolls have negative effects on girls, but teach boys to go for girls who look like barbie (sic)...” -Ela

Positive Side

When Barbie was made by Ruth Handler, she wanted to inspire young girls to dream big and break gender roles during the late ’50s. Though a lot of progress was made during this time, gender roles were still prominent.

Because of this, Handler set out in creating careers for Barbie that ranged from stereotypical jobs for women and ones that were dominantly taken by men. Three of these stand out to me.

  • Astronaut Barbie was first introduced in 1965, four years before Neil Armstrong would be the first man on the moon. Barbie broke barriers not only as a woman but for the human race as well. She showed there’s nothing girls can’t do when they reach for the stars.

  • MLB player Barbie was introduced in 1998. To this day there still hasn’t been a woman drafted into the MLB, but no doubt this next step is right around the corner—we’re looking at you, Melissa Mayeux!

  • United States of America President Barbie was introduced to the world in the year 2000. Just like MLB Barbie, she made history as the first woman in the career field. We’re still waiting for the United States’ first female president, but we know that it’ll happen soon, —2024 anybody?

Testimonies:

“I always liked playing with Barbies because it allowed me to be creative by designing her outfits and figuring out different ways to style her hair. I didn’t see her as an unhealthy look [on] what a woman should be. I saw her as someone who could do anything, which meant that I could too.” -Cassie

“I love Barbie because she gives girls possibilities of what young girls and women can do. Examples: teacher, doctor, lawyer, president. She also lets (sick) girls know the fun that they can have. Beach, basketball, volleyball, and just regular having (sic) fun with your friends.” -Melissa

Self Love

Through the good, the bad, and the ugly, Barbie has come a long way. Mattel has made progress in including all walks of life in the doll, no doubt helping to promote beauty in everyone.

Today, anybody can be Barbie! You can choose a doll from different cultural backgrounds, religions, body sizes, disabilities, and genders. All the while encouraging young children to continue working towards the unimaginable.

What are your views on this popular toy? What are some of your ambitions? Sound off in the comments and let us know your opinion!

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Ashleigh LA Salle

Ashleigh LA Salle is a 16 year old mixed girl living in the Deep South of Georgia. She enjoys social distancing, reading in her room alone with the world’s fattest cat, and writing about distant lands that sound more interesting than the one she’s in now. But, until she can get there, she’s happy with covering the wacky world around her.


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