Nearly a month ago, Mattel announced a change in the beloved Barbie doll. She will now be available in a variety of body types. If you missed this exciting news, read all about it by clicking here.
I received this announcement with mixed feelings. While it's wonderful that the little doll will now look more realistic, I can't help but wonder if consumers and retail advisers bullied the company into pursuing the change. It's common knowledge that Barbie has been frequently blamed for low self-esteem among girls.
As a girl who played with Barbies and a young woman who struggled with low self-esteem, I must say "Balderdash!" to such allegations. As a teenager and woman in my early twenties, I battled body image issues. From my preteen years until . . . oh, I don't remember when, I was under the impression that I was "fat." I didn't develop an eating disorder thanks to my mother. She watched me like a hawk. She demanded to know what I ate for every meal when I was away from her; and since I couldn't lie to her, I always ate something.
If I occupied the facilities longer than she deemed necessary, she peeked inside to check on me. (The bathroom in my childhood home didn't lock. Although the rule was established that if the door was closed, the "jakes were occupied," it didn't keep me from mother's diligence.)
Did I despise the intrusion on my privacy? Naturally; I was a teenager. However, I was an intelligent enough teen to understand the love behind my mother's actions. Do I blame Barbie for my obsession with my body image? Absolutely not. I never once looked at my Barbies and questioned, "Why don't I look like this?" I do, however, remember reading about Ma's eighteen inch waist in the Little House in the Big Woods book, and making that my measurement goal (which, by the way, I never attained.) Do I blame the Little House books for my low self-esteem? Hardly.
So, what is to blame for the low self-esteem of myself (which I totally overcame many years ago) and countless others? I'm not a psychologist, and I definitely don't claim to know the answer. This, however, I can say assuredly: it's not Barbie.
In conclusion, kudos to Mattel for changing their dolls in an attempt to appeal to and protect all little girls. Shame on society for making them feel it was necessary.