This past week Huffington Post contributor Dominique Mosbergen published the headline, “Barbie Designer Defends Dolls Strange Proportions, Dismisses Body Image Concern” on Twitter. I was very curious to finally hear what Mattel had to say to the many criticism’s of Barbie’s body and image, so I immediately bit and clicked on the link … and was very disappointed. Mosbergen gave Mattel lead Barbie Designer Kim Culmone, exactly one paragraph to explain Mattel’s stance on the matter while devoting the rest of the full-page piece to elaborate on just how strange Barbie’s proportions really are. She provided links and pictures to prove her point. Mosbergen also provided a link to the original interview with Culmone; however, the intent of the piece was self-evident: Barbie is a bad role model for young girls. I Googled “Barbie is” and the first result was “a bad role model.” I had to search a little further to find anything good about Barbie. When I finally did find positive things it cemented my stance on Barbie. I think Barbie is great and here’s why:
Barbie is Possibility: Barbie represents possibility to me both now and when I was young. Never once did I think of Barbie as someone that was to be actualized in a literal sense. Never once did I think I would find myself cruising down Jasper Ave in one of my elaborate, pink, sparkly ball gowns looking for the next high fashion party to attend. Never once did I think of her as some image that was impossible to obtain. Instead I found myself dreaming about possibility every time I picked her up. Barbie represents a woman who lives her life her way with no boundaries – and I love that.
Barbie is a Career Woman: Barbie has held many positions in her life, and many of them broke gender barriers. She has been an Astronaut, Nascar Driver, Pilot, President. Most, with the exception of President, have been actualized for women – maybe it’s because Barbie did it first! Barbie opens up the idea that a girl can become anything she wants to be.
Barbie is talented, and interested in Health and Fitness: And what’s wrong with that. Shouldn’t little girls be exposed and opened to the idea that talent, health, and fitness are both attainable and desirable traits in a woman. Instead of focusing on the negative “I’ll never be exactly like her” mind-set, shouldn’t we be telling little girls that they should be celebrating their accomplishments, and making an effort to attain the best possible life and level of fitness for themselves?
Barbie is educated and involved in the political process: She is a scholar of both the Humanities (educator, caregiver, child care worker) and the Sciences (Doctor, Dentist, Vet), and is involved in the political process (UN Worker, President). Barbie does what she wants and lets no one hold her back, and this is awesome! Let’s stop complaining about what girls don’t have and focus on what we can have through Barbie.
Barbie is self-sufficient: This is perhaps the best lesson little girls can learn from Barbie if we take our blinders off and see Barbie for who she really is. Barbie is a valuable member of society, self-sufficient, equally important, and capable – all without a man. All that Barbie has accomplished over the years has been done by her own determination and hard work. She holds the title to the pink palace, pink convertible, and wide array of pink accessories we find her in. She has earned them for herself and we need to stress this to all of the little girls who pick up Barbie in awe and wonder.
As a woman’s right advocate, I think that we should be empowering little girls with positive stories and messages about possibility rather than focusing on comparison, unattainability, and impossibility. Barbie’s image should be turned around to represent accomplishment and we should be okay with all that Barbie has attained. Instead of being jealous and totally ignoring Barbie’s accomplishments, let’s celebrate her and hold her up proudly as an image worthy of our respect.
Let me know what you think. Do you agree that Barbie’s image can be turned into good for girls, or do you think Barbie is just a reminder of impossible standards?