What’s the Deal with This So-called Normal Barbie?
I saw an article the other day about "normal" Barbie and part of me thinks hooray people are finally getting it. But, there is a much bigger (and louder) part of me that's a little pissed off and annoyed. I'm not sure if I see the point.
Now, I'm going to say what you think I am going to say and I'm not ashamed to say it. I played with Barbies for most of my childhood. I'm not scarred in any way. I never once, not one single time, thought that I wanted to look like Barbie. She was just a doll I played with. I didn't want to look like Cricket or Patty Play Pal or Strawberry Shortcake or Lemon Meringue either.
You know why? Because they are dolls. I just loved them. I loved to dress Barbie up (and later I burned off all her hair). I liked to color on Lemon Meringue's face and pretend she fell off the magnum at Cedar Point. She also smelled like Lemons and that was pretty awesome. Patty Play Pal talked to me and who doesn't want a doll to talk to them (in a non Chucky doll kind of way). Dolls were awesome. They were my allies. My childhood friends. Not something I felt I should compare myself to.
I started to feel bad about myself and my weight when I became aware of how much different my body was than other girls. Not doll girls, but real life girls. That's when the trouble started. And it was actually after I stopped playing with dolls.
I realized I was taller and chubbier than most of the other girls. It was also when boys didn't like me or want to pass me love notes in fifth period that I became self-conscious. Then I started to think maybe there was something wrong with me. Or maybe I should work harder to be like those other girls.
I continued to have major issues with my body until I understood reality. Everyone is different. The gals you see on TV and in magazines aren't real (and neither is Barbie). If you recall, I once wrote an article about that.
That was an important lesson to learn and something that I didn't learn until I was in college. Hell, it's something I still have to remind myself of from time to time. And, sure, I still have issues with the way I look (don't we all). But they're not anywhere near the kind of issues that I used to have.
However, the point is, no so-called average doll would have ever made me feel better. In fact, I kind of wonder if would have made it worse. I mean, if you’re not average how does having a doll who is really make it better? Doesn't "normal" Barbie create all the same issues as ultra-skinny Barbie? You know, because it's modeled after an actual human being and not something some toy maker just thought up. Doesn't that kind of tell you that this is what gals (should) look like?
Seriously. Can we all just think about this for a minute? A doll is being created with the measurements of the average female. So, uh, what do the non-average gals do?
And I am not just talking about those that are bigger, but what about those that are smaller? Aren't we actually just showing the problem in a different way? Or even just creating a new problem?
Now, don't get me wrong. I applaud the effort. I really do. I think it's great anytime people want to show women in a different light. Or whenever people are attempting to make things better for women or for men. Body image is a huge issue so if we can make some stride with that it's awesome.
And, honestly, I don't know what my solution would be. But I just think making Barbies who are average might solve a teeny tiny part of the problem for teeny tiny percentage of girls. For the rest, I think it makes a whole other set of problems.
The fact is, pressures to look a certain way come from everything and everywhere. Girls are going to get older and they are going to run into this issue long after they stop playing with Barbies. They're going to see models and women on TV. They're going to see their skinnier friends and siblings. That's all a part of life and we need to teach them what to do with that and how to understand that. We also need to teach them the difference between reality and fiction. And the difference between perception and reality.
We also need to be aware when we see that body issues are getting out of control. From some girls it's just normal adolescent things and a part of growing up. For others, it's a much bigger thing.
Awareness and understanding. I think those are key things here. Sure it's not the end all be all, but it's definitely important (and something I think would help).