Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Barbie and Body Image

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Dolls should come in all shapes and sizes.  L to R:  Traditional Indian Hindi doll, Filipino "Imelda" doll, Ghanaian beauty in traditional attire

Dolls should come in all shapes and sizes. L to R: Traditional Indian Hindi doll, Filipino “Imelda” doll, Ghanaian beauty in traditional attire

As Mark now has a granddaughter, we are starting to think about the kind of toys that we might consider buying for the little one as she grows older.  Neither of us are fans of “gender specific” toys generally; and Barbie is a classic one that is strongly related to the whole “pink-ribboned, blonde, blue eyed” experience that we don’t really buy into.  Not that there’s anything wrong with playing with dolls!  (or with blonde hair and blues eyes, for that matter!)  No doubt child psychologists have done the appropriate studies that demonstrate the numerous capacity building activities that imaginative play can bring.  And it may well be that Mark’s granddaughter one day plays with, and enjoys – dolls.   But we will likely NOT be the ones giving her the traditional version.   Our choices come from a variety of places, some of which we thought we’d share here:

1.  The “default” Barbie is unrealistic, and probably doesn’t help young girls in their quest to be “beautiful”.  ALL young girls are beautiful, in all their amazing shapes and sizes, colours, and interests.   In this well written article, one of the concerns raised is that girls as young as five are expressing a desire to be thinner!   What is that all about??!   Not something we want to be encouraging, so no, thanks Mattel, we won’t be buying one of your Barbies anytime soon.

2.  There’s a whole world out there:  Only about 2 percent of the world has blonde hair and blue eyes.  There are a LOT more darker haired, darker skinned people, and there always will be!   We like the idea of having a doll that is more natural looking, and in today’s population, if that doll was to more closely mimic world wide trends, it would certainly have dark hair, dark eyes, and not traslucent skin!   We LOVE the doll that is the highest seller in Nigeria, for example – called the Queen of Africa.  Check it out here. Now THAT’s our kind of doll!   What we like about it mainly, is that it is reflective of the women in that region.  Fabulous.   But also great to have such dolls in places like Australia, where young kids can see that dolls (and people), come in all colours!

3.  What’s wrong with Normal? We don’t really buy into a doll that has a body shape that, statistically speaking, fewer than 1 in 100,000 adult women would have.  But one initiative that we DO like is the new “Normal Barbie”.  We think she looks great, and has average women’s proportions.  She is called the Lammily doll, and she just seems to make more sense.  Call us crazy.

4.  Or for something a little bit different: Finally, we personally don’t have any issues with ANY children playing with dolls.   Girls, boys, whatever.  It’s PLAY.  Imaginative play.  Which is a good thing.  Which is why we also don’t have any issues with this Transgender doll.  We seriously don’t think kids give a brass wazoo about whether their doll has “girl bits”, or “boy bits”.  The idea seems to cause the parents way more grief than the children!   So just on principle, we kinda like it!

Would love to hear about your thoughts on this issue!   (Oh, and for the record – yes – I played with Barbie when I was younger.  And no, I don’t feel overly psychologically damaged from doing so!  But it is nice that times have moved on, and we now have choices.  Choices are a good thing).


Written by Mar(k)

January 23, 2015 at 7:58 pm

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