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When you mention the word Barbie, what comes to mind? Is it long, flowing blonde hair rippling across slender shoulders? Is it big blue eyes and large lips on a flawless face?
What about a small waist and unrealistic body type?
If this is the image that floats into your mind at the name of one of the most popular dolls, you are certainly not alone. Many other people think of this too, but what if I told you that this is not something children think of when they think of their toy doll?
Sure, they see her beauty but this idea that she is something that a girl can never be is often an adult point of view and not something that kids that play with Barbies will even think about.
Barbie should not be banned. She is a toy used for imagination and pretending by little children and is meant for playtime and fun.
Barbies can become anything that a child could dream of and although her sizes are not realistic (obviously) kids still love playing with her.
That was the purpose of creating her.
When Ruth Handler made the first Barbie she wanted little girls to have a doll with which they could be anything they wanted to be. So why is this a bad thing?
Back to the adult perception of Barbie, parents are extremely concerned that by giving their children Barbies they will try to make themselves fit that mold… even though it’s literally impossible.
Of course parents don’t want to let their kids play with a toy that might make them feel bad about the way they or their friends look… but do kids actually think that way?
As the parent of two girls I would say that it really isn’t in my personal experience.
Both of my daughters have looked at their Barbies as a way to imagine she is anything she wants to be. They can pretend she is a princess in a fancy ball gown or a doctor in medical scrubs.
Never once have either of my daughters looked at Barbie’s waist and compared it to their own and asked why they don’t have a waist that small… just like my son has never wondered why his action figures with bulging muscles look nothing like him or his dad.
The argument for banning Barbies is one that comes from her unattainable image of a skinny body and perfect lifestyle. Some children may not be fully mature enough to understand that she is not real but most children know this.
It all comes down to if the child is older than they can start to want to be like something they aren’t, but I’m really not so sure Barbie is the culprit.
Why Barbie Dolls Should Not Be Banned
From the original blonde doll, Barbie is now available in many nationalities and skin colors. If she wants, a girl can choose whichever Barbie is most like her.
Barbie shows diversity and offers a blank slate for girls to imagine whoever they want
her to be. They can imagine an adult life with her and playing with toys is good for young children’s creativity.
Think about it, is a Barbie doll the most unrealistic thing your child sees in the world they live in? What about movies?
They can certainly give someone a false sense of reality.
Celebrities, models, etc. are all real people who try to show your children what they should look like or who they should be. Children look to those older than them for how to act or look and in my opinion this can be far more dangerous to their self-image than a plastic doll ever could be.
Barbie dolls are not harmful to children, So why should they be banned? They are just a plastic plaything used for imagining and little kids love to play with them.
Barbie doesn’t make kids think they aren’t beautiful but rather our insecurity often does just that when we as parents talk about how ugly, fat, etc. that we are.
Is Barbie A Good Or Bad Role Model?
If Barbie is looked to as a role model, is she a good one or a bad one? Her appearance is far-fetched along with her ideal lifestyles.
Yet, she demonstrates good qualities every girl should have.
Barbie exhibits characteristics that are healthy for young girls to try to attain. They shouldn’t look at her as what they want to be but as what they could be if they put their mind to it.
That may have sounded a bit confusing so let me explain.
Do Barbie dolls come with a personality? No. Do they come in only one garment of clothes that cannot be changed for any reason? Still, no.
They come entirely blank ready for a child to make them who they are. They can be changed into an entirely different doll at the command of the child playing with it.
This is how young children can also view their future life. As something they can decide for themselves with whatever personality they have.
Barbie isn’t just a dream doll but she is feminine and beautiful. She shows strength and bravery when it’s needed most. Kindness and selflessness are among her greatest qualities.
Barbie can be a toy used to enhance a little girl’s imagination. She can pretend she is shopping with her friends or a famous singer. She also can be brave and kind.
Is Barbie Bad For Body Image?
Although it is improbable that little girls will look at a Barbie doll and want its figure, let’s look into how they may be bad for body image.
She has the perfect face, the perfect shape and that’s what makes her beautiful. This should not be what little kids are thinking however.
Beauty is found inside and not because of how one looks. But this is how our culture views being pretty sometimes.
According to some, Barbie is bad for how girls view their own bodies. She is an unrealistic example of how girls should be, but this is only if she is looked at as an example.
Most of the time she is viewed from a child’s standpoint as a toy to imagine and play with and not as a body standard that they should try to meet.
Like I said before though, Barbies are not the only thing that displays this false reality.
Pretty much everywhere (movies, magazines, etc.) pushes that you have to be skinny, popular or have a pretty face when this just isn’t so. Everyone has their own unique gifts that make them special no matter how they look.
Our world is constantly telling us we have to look a certain way or act a certain way when really we should all just be ourselves.
Of course there are plenty of people that would disagree with what I have said above and feel like Barbie should be banned because they feel like far too often girls look to her for cues not only of jobs they could have but also for how they should be shaped.
An article from Your Local Guardian states that,“As much as Mattel would like to stress that Barbie stands for an image of independence and showing girls they can do whatever they set their minds to, at the end of the day the only image that stays in people’s minds is of Barbie in a scantily clad outfit living a glamorous life doing a fabulous job, all with the perfect dream house and perfect Ken doll.”
An experiment took place giving a group of girls aged 6-8 a traditional Barbie doll and another group of the same ages four non- Barbie dolls of various body types. They said those who played with the super thin dolls had more dissatisfaction with their bodies than those who played with the other dolls and concluded that a Barbie might encourage girls to want the same body as Barbie.
In order to try to fix this problem with their dolls, Mattel now makes beautiful Barbie dolls of every shape and size so you can choose whatever Barbie doll you’d like with a more realistic body type.
However the article and experiment mentioned above are far from conclusive since those same girls were exposed to media and people that will also often talk about being different from other people as being bad.
As a parent I personally have decided that Barbies are fine for my daughters to play with and I don’t feel like they should be banned. However if you as a parent don’t want to expose your children to these dolls that is certainly a valid opinion and one that I would never argue with you about.
Ultimately you have to decide what you feel is best for your children to play with and not play with.
Barbie’s flashy smile and feminine figure is what makes her the iconic doll she is. The wonderful thing about her is that a child can be creative and make her whoever she wants her to be.
If your child cannot differentiate between toys and real life, then it is probably best if they don’t play with a Barbie.
Most children however just like to pretend with their toys, not be them. Today, Barbie is made in so many diverse ways it is not reasonable to say that she should be banned because of how she looks.