Doll Parts: The “Barbie Executioner” Strikes Back

by Melanie Klein, Contributor

My mother never addressed beauty in a critical way. In fact, beauty was rarely openly discussed in my house, but was the lingering weight on the shoulders of all the women in my family. The only times beauty was discussed was when my mother told me I needed to lose weight or when my grandmother told me I needed to “suffer to be beautiful.”

My critique of beauty came far too late in life, after the damage had already been done. Hole’s Courtney Love slapped me upside the head the first time I heard her belt out the lyrics to Doll Parts with gut-wrenching emotion, in her torn baby-doll dress and smeared lipstick .

I am doll eyes/ Doll mouth, doll legs/ I am doll arms, big veins, dog bait/ Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, they really do/ Yeah, they really want you, they really want you, they really do/ I want to be the girl with the most cake

Love stirred the festering agitation in me and eventually I was led to feminism’s door. I’ve been a body-image warrior ever since.

But what if a critical dialogue about the  limited definitions of beauty began early? Let’s face it: these conversations are necessary. Gender socialization does not occur in a vacuum, and even in the most conscious homes unrealistic images of beauty bombard our young people. Few parents can effectively combat the onslaught of conflicting values and norms perpetuated outside the home.

Barbie looms large as a pivotal figure in the lives of young girls. She is the epitome of the mainstream beauty standard, making an impact across race and class: She’s young, thin and, for the most part, white (while Mattel has created “ethnic” Barbie dolls, they sell in lesser quantities and, in the case of Wal-Mart, are sold for less money).

For more than 50 years, Barbie has remained an emblem of idealized femininity and a key element of gender socialization. Barbie fan Danielle Scott, 16, said:

Playing with the hair, the brushes, switching outfits. It really just made girls be girls.All the characteristics of what to look forward to and what girls really could do.

In those 50 years, Barbie has not waned in popularity (gained a pound, developed a wrinkle or gray hair), even in the face of mounting criticism. Rajini Vaidyanathan wrote at the BBC:

Despite some of the negative headlines Barbie is still a hit with girls across America and the world. … More than one billion dolls have been sold since her inception, and according to the doll’s makers, Mattel, 90 percent of American girls aged between three and 10 own at least one.

While it is true that Barbie is more complex than the Bratz (the googly-eyed dolls with a “passion for fashion”) and has had at least 125 jobs over the last half-century (jobs that presumably allowed her to purchase her multiple homes, extensive wardrobe and pink Corvette), Barbie is not famous for her extensive resume. Even Toy Story 3′s “renegade” Barbie doesn’t redefine Barbie’s cultural presence. Bottom line, Barbie is not defined by her career or the chutzpah she eventually taps into to help free Woody and the gang in Pixar’s latest. She is a timeless beauty icon. Period.

Generations after Mattel executive (and “kinky swinger”) Jack Ryan created Barbie, she continues to reinforce the beauty myth that pervades all aspects of the dominant culture. But with her alien measurements, Caucasian features, ivory skin, blond hair and unnaturally thin body how can anyone possibly measure up? I had a vintage Barbie scale fixed at 110 pounds, which would inform my notion of a woman’s ideal weight for most of my adult life.

Evelyn Ticona-Vergaray reports in “Barbie’s 50 years of beauty and controversy” on UPIU:

Studies made by the Wellness Resource Center at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee confirmed that a human version with Barbie’s body proportions would only have room for an esophagus or a trachea in her neck, a tibia or a fibula in her legs, and that she would have to crawl to support her top-heavy frame.

Academics from the University of South Australia suggest that chances of finding a woman having Barbie’s body shape is one in 100,000. Moreover, researchers at Finland’s University Central Hospital say if Barbie were a real woman she would lack the 17 to 22 percent of body fat required for a woman to menstruate.

Most girls and women could never and will never look like Barbie although many try (and some try harder than others). So, as an ambassador of a twisted yet omnipresent beauty norm, it’s no wonder that Barbie is subject to “torture play.” Ticona-Vergaray also wrote:

Research found in the article “Early adolescents’ experiences with, and views of, ‘Barbie’” revealed a high rate of “torture play” and “anger play” associated with the Barbie doll. Girls admitted to blaming the image of Barbie for their self-consciousness and lack of self esteem due to the simple impossibility of living up to the standards of beauty presented by the plastic doll.

Most anger play is played out in private, with little dialogue or social commentary to accompany the cut hair, dismembered appendages and pins shoved through her cheeks. But recently, my friend Justine showed me pictures of the anger play perpetrated by her pint-sized 9-year-old daughter (lovingly nicknamed the “Barbie executioner”).  Together, mother and daughter turned this anger play into artistic self-expression and social commentary.

Justine, a self-identified feminist, knew there was trouble the first time her then-five-year-old daughter requested a Barbie after she saw one at a friend’s house. Justine, an outspoken, self-assured woman with a personal disdain for Barbie who also teaches a class to young girls called “Tapping the Body’s Wisdom,” was quick to discuss her feelings about Barbie’s “unrealistic portrayal of feminine beauty” as something not worth “aspiring to.”

Mother and daughter critically discussed images of beauty and how the image of Barbie made them feel. Her daughter acknowledged that  she did not look like Barbie. In fact, she acknowledged that no dolls looked like her and, in the end, she consciously acknowledged that she did not want to be that doll. Shortly thereafter, her daughter began to take apart her Barbies (and Bratz dolls) and would play with their heads and appendages alone. After her daughter racked up a pile of doll parts, Justine suggested saving the appendages for a future art project. Eventually, Justine provided her daughter with a canvas and her daughter pored through beauty magazines to find words to express her feelings.

The result?

The inception, process and end result inspired me. I was moved by her 9-year-old’s ability to take the “smallness” Barbie made her feel, a feeling that too often remains silent and is internalized, and articulate it loudly on canvas. We may have a limited measure of control over the images our daughters are exposed to, but we still can help them cultivate a critical consciousness, use their voice and develop a healthy body image.

Originally published at Ms Blog. Cross-posted with permission.

An earlier version appeared at Feminist Fatale as Doll Parts: Barbie, Beauty and Resistance.

Photos courtesy of Justine Amodeo.

70 thoughts on “Doll Parts: The “Barbie Executioner” Strikes Back

  1. I grew up the oldest with the 3 younger sisters. I remember my oldest sister used to tear the heads off the Barbies of our younger sisters. I never understood why. It makes sense now. It was her way of fighting back against the pressure to conform to society’s ‘norms’. Doesn’t surprise me at all that she’s a Chicana queer womanist (I believe that’s the term she used). Funny how if you pay attention, even kids will let you know that there is something wrong with they way we socialize them according to white patriarchal standards. Very interesting…

  2. I would say that I was a tomboy growing up. I did not like dolls that much. I, too, would tear off the heads of barbies. I am glad to know that I am not the only one. I always felt weird that I did this as a girl. After reading this article I was assured that I am not the only one who exhibited this behavior.
    I liked that Justine was able to talk to her daughter about barbie and everything it represented. Barbies do bring up the issue of body image. More parents should converse with their children on this topic, using barbie as the prime example.

  3. As a little girl I never showed interest in playing with dolls although I did own barbies. I did not play with the barbies but I was well aware that they were too pretty to look human. I am surprised by the amount of damage the barbie dolls have done on the self esteem of young girls. I never imagined destroying the barbies was because of jealousy or anger towards their beauty I thought it was simply because they are fun to break. I think this project of making a collage out of the barbie parts was a very good idea in terms of helping little girls identify body image issues and express themselves out loud instead of keeping it to themselves. It is the duty of mothers to talk to their daughters and explain to them that barbies are not real and real women do not look like that and come in different shapes and sizes.

  4. I remember when I was a child, I was obsessed with the Barbie doll. I had at least 50 of them, all different outfits and hairstyles. I remember thinking how beautiful she was and how I wanted to look like her when I got older. I wanted to have the exact same life as Barbie. The perfect boyfriend, Ken, the perfect friends, Teresa and Chelsea, and the perfect house and career. I remember thinking that this is what my life was going to be like. This is probably why I liked Barbie so much. It gave me a sense of my future life and that i could construct it with a plastic version of myself. As i grew older, I obviously knew this could not be true. I did not look anything like Barbie, nor had the boyfriend or friends. I never resented Barbie because I appreciated her for the fun times she gave me as a child, but knew i could not achieve any of the desirable things she possessed which upset me a bit. I wanted to look like Barbie. I wanted to have her silky blonde hair. I wish i had a mother or a class to take such as the one mentioned in this article that told me Barbies proportions are impossible to obtain and her hair and boyfriend and friends are all a picture of a utopian world that many rarely achieve. As of right now, i do not regret playing with my Babies, but for all I know, there may be hidden resentment towards the plastic doll that I have not come to terms with yet.

  5. Looking back as a child who played with Barbie I always looked at her as a child not as a figure I want to become. I think a lot her feelings had to come from her childhood memories of being told that she needs to lose weight and you have to suffer to be beautiful. I was perfectly fine of how I looked because my parents never put that pressure on me to be thin and I was never told that in order to be beautiful I have to go through pain. I am strong believer that if you are brought up in a superficial environment like many people have than you are a victim of society and how they portray the “perfect” woman. Time will only tell when a song about the Bratz doll will emerge.

  6. Never really fond of Barbies growing I remember taking the Barbie apart after only having it for a couple days because people would tend to give them as gift since my parents knew I did not like playing with Barbies. Now I know my doings were as a result of not being able to connect with an object which had no similarities to me as an individual, I enjoyed playing soccer ,riding bikes, and skating rather than being confined in a small space alone playing with an object which I was not to fond of. Barbie is a mythical object that tends to give girls this false assumptions of image and beauty which is very unrealistic and unachievable. 

  7. I am not surprised that many young girls take their anger out on Barbie dolls for the unrealistic standards they set. Children are shown these images of thinness and beauty at such a young age that it becomes a major priority for them to achieve these standards while growing up. Its also not very surprising that even after all the pressure that toy companies have been getting, they still decide to sell the same products with barely any compromise. The only way to really send a message to these toy companies is by taking strikes against them and rejecting to buy their products. Moreover, as long as people continue buying these products, the companies will continue producing them. As a young boy, I never played with barbies, but I would play with action figures that had very similar roles. The “action” figures that I would play with were just that, “Action” packed pieces of plastic in superhuman forms that fueled me with adrenaline and fast paced commotion. Furthermore, all the toys I played with were of muscular men, with bulging muscles, either crushing things or building cities. I believe that these are the big companies’ attempt at feeding society with images of how we should behave as well as what we should expect. In other words, advertisers and the media are illustrating gender roles to individuals at very young ages through children toys and games. I would expect, and hope, for a backlash from people who want change. I know what role I must take in making a change, which is avoiding these types of products when I go shopping for my nieces and nephews.

  8. Barbie is the epitome of society’s normative beauty which is the notion of being thin, tall, blonde, colored eyed, and white. Barbie continues to reinforce the beauty myth that pervades all aspects of the dominant culture, but how can anyone measure up. When I was young I had multiple Barbies, I personally never liked Barbie just because I felt that she didn’t resembled me, therefore I always felt inclined to Teresa which had darker hair. Although there have been colored dolls, none have gained the popularity as Barbie. Many favor Barbie because in a way they aspire to be like her because of society’s approval and like Bell hooks mentioned in her book Communion, everyone wants to be loved and it is not until someone loves us that we feel worthy. But holding Barbie as a role model can be harmful, because if Barbie was to be a real women she would be very disproportionate, causing her to have serious health problems. Being 5’2, having brown eyes and colored eyes and at 120 pounds I could never aspire to look like Barbie, unless I went various surgeries or massive alterations, but even then it is an unrealistic aspiration. Yong girls should be reassured through the media and family that Barbie is just a doll, and that her beauty is altered, rather these young girls should be taught to embrace their diverse identity. I was never really fond of Barbie during my childhood, but I began to have body issues around my middle school years because I began puberty at an early age, and developed breasts way before any of my friends. As a result I always felt uncomfortable and tried to hide them through loose shirts, it wasn’t until high school that I accepted my body image. To this day I try not to let media nor anyone’s expectations define how I see my body, but unfortunately we are impacted through media in an every day basis, and sadly little girls are the most vulnerable targets, especially with Barbie holding an unrealistic sense of BEAUTY!

  9. Although I understand the feelings discussed in the article, I can’t help but feel like these feelings felt by all young girls are a bit outstretched. As a child I frequently played with Barbies and never did I look to these dolls with envy and wish to be a blonde, skinny, or a big busted woman. Barbies were simply characters in the imaginative game that I played with my friends or by myself. Playing with these Barbies did however show me how much I really did enjoy putting together outfits or fixing different hairstyles. This is something that I do not see as a bad thing, however I can see how many young girls, especially today, would turn to the idea that putting together glamorous outfits and believe that it is their place to enjoy doing these things and not other things such as playing sports or excelling in school. The end of the article where the young girl takes apart the doll’s bodies struck me as a little strange. Even though Barbies can pose as bad icons for young girls to look up to, taking part in “torture play” seems to be a little extreme. Although it is a mother’s job to instill an understanding of beauty in her child, this kind of play seems as though it may only lead to resentment of other girls who do enjoy playing with these dolls and who grow up to play the part of the traditional “Barbie”.

  10. I think it is ok to acknowledge that dolls are not the image of what we are expected to look like. We have also understand that Barbie is just a doll to play with not to destroy, if the little girl did not like the dolls she just did not have to ask her mom to buy them for her. I never thought about being like Barbie I just enjoyed dressing her up and playing with my sisters. At the same time I do agree that dolls can make some one feel annoyed for measuring up to them. We have to just tell the young girls that plastic is not real and they do not have to look like them period.

  11. It’s definitely a relief to me to hear from other women who had Barbies as children but don’t feel like they were supposed to live up to any sort of expectation that they set. I never asked myself why I didn’t look like Barbie, or remember ever wanting to look like her—I just wanted to stop losing her damned shoes. (I did wonder why she didn’t have a vagina, though.) For me, it was more about having an avatar for adulthood and the freedoms that would come with it—being able to choose your own clothes, go where you wanted to go and do what you wanted to do; having your own house and furniture and never having to send your friends home. I remember knowing that Barbie was unlike me because she had blonde hair and, in the 80s at least, her facial features were far more cartoonish and her clothes were kind of unrealistic things that no one would actually wear or consider fashionable unless they were six. (I gave away my old Barbie clothes to Goodwill years ago—a package full of neon-orange tights, fluffy pink ball gowns, and day-glo green jackets.) So, to me, Barbie was a toy—she wasn’t meant to be real. Who dressed like that? Who had that many clothes and shoes??

    That being said, I look at some of the Barbies now—especially the “Black Label” or “Collector Basics” Barbies—that look incredibly true to life, and I worry a little. They aren’t happy, cow-eyed things anymore—they have smaller eyes, and more realistic makeup and clothes. Instead of big pink ball gowns, they have tiny black wiggle dresses. I remember looking at those dolls and thinking “Holy s***!—these dolls look like the girls I see trying to get into nightclubs.” She looked less like a toy of cartoonish proportions and more like an actual woman with unrealistic proportions. Essentially, I’m seeing Barbies become less of a canvas and more of a photograph- something to be looked or aspired to at rather than interacted with. It makes me sad that now Barbies may be pushing an idealized media image of women rather than girls using Barbies as a means of creative play.

  12. This article is definitely a revelation about Barbie’s role in gender socialization. I must profess when I reminisce about my childhood, Barbie is present in many of my memories. I owned multiple Barbies, including Teresa (her brunette counterpart), and played with them on a daily basis. I do not recollect any sense of resentment towards her, but rather an admiration. My mother has always placed an emphasis on my beauty and I have grown up feeling the pressure. I was always perfectly groomed and attired in the latest fashion apparel. Barbie was what I aspired to be as a grew into a woman. Unfortunately, I was not blessed with a large chest, blonde hair, or height. Barbie is actually anatomically disproportionate, and a real women with her proportions would face a whole host of health problems. I have battled with self-esteem and body image issues my entire life even though my physical features are often praised by others. Compliments from others are ineffectual and they carry no weight in terms of my own beliefs about myself. I do not wholly attribute my self-consciousness to Barbie as many other girls do, but I do believe that she may have contributed to my own ideals of beauty.

    I sincerely admire the strength and courage of the mother-daughter duo discussed in this article. Instead of fixating on the reality that she will never look like Barbie, the “Barbie Executioner” channeled her internalized feelings into something cathartic and healing. Expressing your innermost emotions is a cleansing process, and can pave the way for the development of a healthy self-image. Mothers are not allocated the power to control the images that their daughters are exposed to on an everyday basis, but they are endowed with the ability to openly discuss how these images affect their daughters; honest conversing can spearhead this issue head-on and curtail some of the negative consequences advertisement may cause. If I become a mother in the future, I will make it a priority to establish a healthy self-image in my daughter early on, so she will be less susceptible to the powerful messages the media sends to young girls.

  13. I think the use of Barbie dolls and even legos, tell the youth, especially girls, two messages on what they should strive for and what is expected of them. The article said that the dolls/barbies came in different job titles and appearances that identified them with certain jobs and occupations. These doll figures and even girl lego figures limit the use of the female gender in the work place. We see that they are dressed up as beautiful women, nurses, secretaries, librarians, mothers, teachers, etc. which tells these young girls that society accepts these female figures in those ways only. We hardly see dolls or legos for girls that are doctors, farmers, mechanics, police officers, CEOs, solders, firemen, etc. So those toy companies support the social gender discrimination and segregation and make it difficult for these girls to enter these fields. The second issue is that the Barbie represents the false female, it shows women as being a perfect figure that has ZERO flaws. This false image is internalized into the youth of females and tells them you must be tall, long hair, skinny, with perfect proportion breast & buttocks, and that this is the best way to look, and if you don’t look like this then you are ugly. My little sister played with dolls growing up and she didn’t accept this false image as normal. She cut the hair, made her own cloths, and dressed the dolls up to what she thought was pretty. I think my mother talked to her and explained to her the issues of dolls and told her to not think she was different just because those plastic figures represented a grown woman. I think proper discussion with the younger generation about toys and human figure dolls is necessary when allowing them to play with them, so there wont be confusion, curiosity, and they will understand the are pretty/perfect in their own special way.

  14. I admit that I had many barbie dolls and I loved playing with them! However, I cannot remember wanting to look like her or any other type of doll. I looked at Barbie’s as a toy – a tool I used to roleplay as a child, expressing my creativity. It had nothing to do with how she looked or the “ideal” body image she represented. Barbie has been a cultural icon for so many years. I understand that for many girls, they look at her and think that Barbie is a representation of how girls are supposed to look. I do not think it is fair to say that every girl who played with Barbie’s had the same response as a child. To me, playing with Barbie’s and other dolls stimulated my imagination and I was able to make my Barbie doll whoever I wanted her to be. It was a creative outlet I used to express myself and I never “look up” to the doll as a role model of how I would look – or want to aspire to look like one day.

  15. Barbies definitely play a big role in gender socialization. For my 2nd birthday party I had a HUGE PINK cake with 4 barbies sitting on it. When all these little girls are playing with barbies starting such a young age, obviously the world will be filled with young women with eating disorders and low self esteem. I have noticed that even the young women who know that it is not physically possible to look like Barbie, still try to attain Barbie’s look. Until I took my Women’s Studies class, for the past 19 years, to me the ideal image of beauty and perfection was the barbie doll. When I was 11 years old I locked myself in the bathroom and bleached my hair, just so I look more like Barbie. Being around such objects and images are dangerous for the youth.

    Also, I checked out the Doll Parts video, it was awesome.

  16. Barbie definitely raises the bar for perfection in young women. The maker of barbie decided to make a perfect body, face, and color according to society. It has influenced more and more young girls to grow up that way and to be ultra thin with some hips and plainly put, perfect. The only thing that little girls never understood was that Barbie never ate either. So girls thought growing up they would eat and have this great model frame like barbie but they forgot that we are were created in different, unique ways. It is what young girls pride themselves on growing up with skinny dolls, not fat dolls. So they grow up thinking this is how I have to be too! Well its not but society only gives us one option and that is to buy skinny dolls. Even when i grew up and went to day care’s I never saw one fat doll; they were all skinny. This will have an extreme impact on young girls and provoke them to try and be as skinny as possible. Hopefully this changes so that young girls will not be influenced to look like barbie all the time.

  17. I absolutely love the culmination to this article. I personally remember sitting around in a circle with my cousins one day when I was little and each of us had a barbie in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other. By the time we were done with my barbies, I knew that I would never have to deal with another “role model” like her again. One thing I noticed while reading this article is that people are blaming barbie for all of their problems. I actually disagree with this because although I had a barbie, I do not blame her features for any body issues I have, I think that this is just the easiest answer to the biggest problem, which is the media. I was pretending that barbie was my toy baby, not who I wanted to be in life. There were so many disparities between us two that here was no point to even try and emulate her figure or skin color. Ultimately, it is mainly the fault of mass media’s portrayal of females as young, skinny, and white which is ruining us, barbie is just the byproduct of that.

  18. Barbie has been a cultural icon for so many years. I admit that I had many of them and loved playing with them! I remember at one point my sister and I had actually told my mother we did not want the traditional Barbie, but we wanted her friend. I believe her name was Theresa but I cannot quite remember; the brown haired Hispanic looking one. We wanted a Barbie we could more relate to. My sister and I had even wrapped toilet paper around our Barbie’s stomachs to make them look more voluptuous! Fortunately I can’t remember ever wanting to look like a Barbie. I have more problems with the Bratz dolls and other brands; they are marketed as much more provocative and while some Barbies do encourage careers and socializing outside and in other venues, the Bratz dolls seem more geared toward shopping and buying the boy counterparts.

  19. Reading this article made me realize why I buy these dolls, and Barbie’s for my daughter, when all I’m teaching her is that’s the body image women should have. I myself go through body and weight issues everyday of my life, and I am constantly weighing myself hoping I didn’t gain any weight after lunch and dinner. I cant believe that 9 year old girl, was so smart and strong, and came up with just playing with the heads rather than the full Barbie. I can honestly say the young generation today is very smart, and my daughter only at age 4 surprises me the things she says. For example one day last week, I weighed myself as she walked in, and saw me, and she turns to me and tells me, “Mommy you look good, why do you keep weighing yourself, you are beautiful”. I told myself, not to let her see myself struggle with my weight, and body because I don’t want her growing up thinking looking like Barbie is the norm, which in reality it really isn’t. I am 2 months pregnant now, and its so surprising how my daughter can tell my belly is growing, and now she tell me its ok mommy, your belly looks like mine now. I am 25 years old, but I cannot help myself, but to be concerned about my body. I grew up playing with Barbie’s, hoping to look like them one day. I am happy that there are people out there that also think the Barbie and Brats image is not the norm, and we will stop this, and will not let our children go through what we did.

  20. Growing up, my sister and I had a vast collection of Barbie Dolls. We didn’t just own white dolls and ken dolls, we also had black dolls and kens dolls. Reading through this, I can see why girls and women aspire to be like Barbie; they want to reach a level of beauty that is so widely endorsed. As I recall though, I never compared my self to my Barbie Dolls or wanted to look like them. My parents always told my sister and I that we are beautiful the way we are. As a little girl, I believed my mom, I felt beautiful. My sister on the other hand, did want to look like Barbie, and no matter what my mom said my sister always strived for perfection. Even though my sister was thin and tall (5 feet, 9 inches & 115 pounds), she always felt fat and suffered through eating disorders. This goes to show that no matter how much our parents told us we were beautiful, she never believed it and strived for perfection. We reacted to society’s ideals of beauty differently. I began to get body issues around my teen years in high school, but that is because I began to compare myself to classmates, and was more exposed to social media. Barbie does endorse an unattainable and unreasonable idea of beauty, but everyone takes it in differently.

  21. As I read through this article I found myself remembering back to when I was a little girl and how I looked and viewed barbies. I found myself not being able to remember wanting to be barbie, that may have been because when I still liked barbies was when I literally looked like a barbie. I remember one Christmas “Santa” bought me the life size barbie! I was so happy! It was exactly what I wanted and I got it I still remember to this day taking my life size barbie into the bathroom with me and undressing her so that I could put on her outfit. I came out of the bathroom in her clothes she in my P.J’s and I was barbie the rest of that Christmas. I guess when I stopped liking barbies is when I no longer saw myself looking like her. I think back now and am completely disgusted with it. I don’t like the fact that we as kids really strived to be just like barbie. Luckily I grew up with tough skin and could care less about being one of the those fake fony looking barbies. I love me for me and I really want more kids to be brought up with that thick skin. Parents should take to their kids and teach them media literacy and show them that these images are fake. One last thing I can not believe that the Mattel Barbie is cheaper than normal barbie. When I read that I had to pick my jaw up of the ground!

  22. When I was young I had Babries, many actually. I never thought I should look like Barbie, or that I wanted to for that matter. I grew up with two brothers and would rather play with Pogs or Ninja Turtles and took the opportunity to ditch my Babries any chance I got. I did however grow up hearing my mother and grandmother talk about my weight but they never called me ugly or gave me a standard that I needed to fit. My parents always fostered a more open environment. Yes my mom wanted to dress me up like a girl and put a little makeup on me here and there, but she let me be my tomboy self as well. I have always been comfortable with myself until recently actually. I can’t say Babrie or any other childhood toy has caused this. It comes more from media today and advertisements, and of course the fact that people don’t generally want to have “fat friends”. I do believe girls today are more pressed to be skinny and beautiful but to the standard that society hold over them, not their own standard of beauty. Feeling great about yourself is not enough in our world today.

  23. I had plenty of Babies when I was a little girl but its scary to think that Barbie may have contributed to my body image issues. As a little girl you wouldn’t think that Barbie would have such an impact on you as a young adult. Barbie was the perfect image of beauty. She was tall and thin. She had good looking man and drove a nice car. Who didn’t want to be her? Its funny because even that Im older when I see a beautiful, thin, blonde with big boobs, I call her barbie. Now I know that only a very small percentage of females actually look like Barbie but I’m still left wanting to look like her. It completely scares me to think of how much we soak in subconsciously. After reading this and knowing the affect Barbie has on little girls, I wouldn’t want my future daughter to play them.

  24. Oh Barbie, that lucky girl! As a child Barbie was the ultimate ideal doll. But not for me, for birthday parties as a gift I would get barbies. I always asked myself why Barbie I look nothing like her. I wanted a doll that was a smaller version of me where i can pretend she was my daughter when i would play house. But Barbie was not the ultimate catch for me. I have darker skin and would always ask my mom to buy me something I can relate to. At the time nobody would really like the dark versions of Barbie, therefore when they would see me with one they would stay away from it. I remember asking my mom, ” why don’t dark people get attention.” My mom would always tell me they do get attention is just that they get shy around dark people because dark people are the most unique beautiful girls. Therefore, growing up I learned to accept those of color and never judge them for what they look like. I am very thankful that my mother gave me those kinds of tips ….

  25. I have 2 sisters so we had a lot of Barbie’s. I remember my aunts would bring us a new Barbie every time we would see them. my parents would buy us the Barbie’s that came with the play set. I remember we would always fight for the newer one. We always had the white Barbie we never owned any Barbie that was darker skinned. Now that I look at it I find it sad because I am not white I am Mexican with fairly dark skin. I don’t know what made me think that the white Barbie was prettier. I remember being given the option of between the regular Barbie and the new Latina Barbie Teresa. Having the same name as me and the same skin color as me I still felt like Barbie was the one I needed. I see the same thing happening with my nieces. What do they receive every Christmas? Barbie’s! they are getting the same message I got as a child BARBIE IS THE IDEA OF PERFECTION! Leading girls to want that perfection she has.

  26. My sister, Andrea, is about three years younger than me, and loved to play with Barbies when she was little. I remember her and my mom dressing them up and playing with them during the afternoons. My sister had a HUGE collection of Barbies, all of which happened to be white. Although it’s hard to determine an exact cause, she struggled with body-image issues as she grew up, and still does. She is incredibly into fashion and is always dressing herself up in different things, much in the same way as she used to dress up her dolls. When you grow up, girls begin to realize that they don’t look like Barbie or the pictures they see of beautiful women in the magazines, and this causes significant self-esteem issues for many teenage girls and women.

  27. I have to say that as a child I had over 60 Barbie’s between my sister and I, they were all given to us every birthday and Christmas. Barbie is an element of gender socialization that is why our families would give all the girls Barbie’s and the boys would always get the cars and explosive and messy toys. As a child I did not realize the influence that the doll was having on me, but I do remember that out of all the sixty dolls seven of them were of color. I never liked the color ones I would always prefer the white original Barbie. Now that I look back it is sad to see the influence it had on me, In a way were I quickly learned that the original Barbie was the most beautiful compare to the ones that were of color. So it was that subconscious thinking that I am not beautiful not only because of my looks but of the color of my skin. I would much prefer the white doll over the color one. I remember that the doll of color that I had, had wavy, frizzy, unmanageable hair, where the original one had straight manageable hair. The effects that Barbie had on me were subconscious as well when I started to get older the media made it worse of what was acceptable and how we should look like.

  28. As a child I owned a few Barbie’s. I always thought they were so beautiful. I remembered my mom buying me an imitation Barbie doll and I never played with it because the image of the original Barbie was better looking and I preferred to play with that. It is sad to think that as a very young child I would not really pay much attention to a doll that was not Barbie. I had learned that Barbie was better somewhere in the media, because that was not something that I learned from my parents. I loved Barbie’s clothes it would always fir her body perfectly, and I would sit around combing her hair for hours. It’s unbelievable that a doll can be causing girls to be self-conscious, but I completely understand how it happens. Little girls look at these dolls as a symbol of beauty they play with them and sooner or later they expect to look just like Barbie. They want to be thin with beautiful facial structure and a flawless body just like Barbie. I am not 100% sure that Barbie affected my relationship with my body. I think the models on TV affected me the most because they were real people and I believe that if a person can look like that I could somehow find a way to look like that too.

  29. Barbie has become an iconic doll for many girls around the world. As a young girl I can remember having several of these dolls. When you’re a young girl you do look up to these dolls and want to be like them. If our dolls body looks a certain way it makes young girl wants to have bodies like her favorite Barbie. When you think of Barbie you think of thin, white, blonde, and beautiful. Of course there has been other ethnic type of Barbie but the most iconic one is the White Barbie. Even though, many just see Barbie as just a doll she does have influence on young girls. Parents can say how can a doll influence their daughter’s perception of their body image, but she can in many ways. If girls see that there are no flaws on their dolls then they develop that the in order to be beautiful you must have this perfect body. I have never seen a Barbie doll with a thick body and that does not have pin straight hair. In order for young girl to not have these images of perfection there should be a more diverse image of Barbie. Even though the typical Barbie is the most sold by creating diversity at least show young girls a sense of the real world.

  30. I as a little girl owned several Barbie dolls because they were so fun to play with. I actually never put it together that Mattel tried to make her look perfect (tall, skinny, big breasts, big butt, blue eyes, blonde hair) I just thought it was a generic look of people. As a kid, I just wanted to play and use my imagination and I didn’t care about how they looked (detailedly). I think the company is trying to make children understand how a woman should look like, what is accepted and whats not (fat, dark) I’m not sure if this can be changed because the marketing industry is very powerful and some people agree that kids should play with their specific gender toys: boys play with action figures while girls play clean and cook in the house. I don’t think a child should be specified to which gender toys they have to play with, they are young and just want to play.

  31. Yes, like almost everyone else on here, I owned a significant amount of barbie and bratz dolls when I was younger. In fact, my older sister gave me twenty of her barbie dolls so they were my favorite toy as a child. I even used to be bribed with bratz dolls for practicing guitar every day, so this was a significant part of my childhood. I never used to compare myself to barbie and bratz dolls. They were dolls and I was a person. Maybe at some point I assumed that one day as an adult I would look like them, but they really had no effect on my childhood image of a woman’s body.
    Still to this day I don’t think these dolls affected me at all. My obsession with body image came when I started watching disney channel and reading my mom’s tabloid magazines. Seeing real people who were skinny and tan and pretty with lots of boyfriends. I don’t blame dolls for young girl’s body image, I think it goes much, much deeper than that.

  32. It is very sad to think that Barbie is inspiring many young girls, but inspiring them to be conscious about their body, in thinking that skinny (like Barbie) is better. The problem is that this impedes women from loving themselves, loving their body for what it is and not for what it “should be” (ideas from Bell Hooks).

  33. I played with Barbie dolls as a child and I just remember loving to dress them up, brush their hair, and make pretend scenarios such as mall time or weddings with them. I don’t remember ever looking at Barbie and thinking, “why don’t I look like her?” It kind of hurts me when I hear that many little girls now don’t have Barbie dolls because I remember how much I loved playing with them. If Barbies are causing young girls to have a negative perception of themselves then I would have to agree that they probably shouldn’t play with them. Most of my negative body image concepts came from children in school teasing me about my weight. I think back now and look at pictures of how I looked at the age when children made fun of me. Yes I must admit I have never been a super thin person but I also was not very over weight. I now wonder what made those children act so cruel towards me. It is possible that these children had their own negative body image concepts from things such as the media or perhaps even Barbie. Overall, I really feel that it is a wonderful idea for parents to talk to their children and help them realize that the images they see on TV are not reality and they can feel comfortable about their own bodies.

  34. Barbie is by far the epitome of dolls in a little girl’s world and her portrayal of an unrealistic woman is so unfortunate. Little girls, myself included, grow up loving and idolizing these dolls. Striving to be something, that is quite impossible to achieve. I really enjoyed reading about this 9-year-old’s perspective on Barbie. Her expression on that canvas is definitely a noteworthy expression of the effect these dolls have on young girls. I think it’s great that her mother is very conscious and pushes her daughter to see the real meaning behind Barbie dolls while, at the same time not persuading her to agree with her perspective but rather allowing her to reach her own conclusions about the dolls. And as we can see the Barbie executioner’s conclusion is striking and rich in commentary. The canvas serves as her outlet for creative expression, still using the dolls, but using them through her perception of them and making them into something she wants them to be rather than the other way around. What an intelligent little cookie.

  35. As a child I always loved playing Barbie’s, I had a pink car, and a big doll house that I loved. My parents would always encourage me to play with Barbie’s, I had so many to pick and choose to play with. I never realized until know reading this article how more in depth this situation could be. Maybe that’s why I judge myself on how I look and it could be many other factors all around me that has affected me on how I look. It was funny on how UPIU described the Barbie body proportion that it would only have room for an esophagus or a trachea in her neck. Barbie’s has always been around for many years, and girls are always been encouraged to play with them as well. What was surprising on how they had limited quantities on ethic Barbie’s and sold them for less money. I never knew that, now that’s so interesting.

  36. Growing up I only played with Barbie. Between my sister and I we probably owned around 50 Barbie’s. We owned the exact same doll with different outfits and different careers. We loved Barbie! Now I dislike Barbie for what she has done to myself and many other girls. I cannot achieve to look any where close to Barbie. Growing up I wanted to look and be just like Barbie. She was perfect why would I not want to be like her? It took me while to grasp the idea that I will never look or be like Barbie no one will. I must admit that I was recently excited to know that my five year old cousin finally liked to play with Barbie’s. I should be upset at myself for loving the idea, but I was not. Barbie is so unrealistic and enforces that impossible ideal real women cannot achieve. Women only began altering their bodies to look like real life Barbie dolls. Barbie has the ideal hair, physique, and is a career woman that woman in real life want to be. A doll represents what culture tells women they should be.

  37. I remember when Doll Parts was released. I had to be around twelve or thirteen and loved the tone, beat, and liked the lyrics, but didn’t really know the deeper meaning of what Courtney Love meant by Doll Parts. I just knew that I dug the hard rock sound and her careless attitude that she portrayed. Now that I look back and try to remember the exact lyrics, yes, I do recall her wanting to be the girl with the most cake. I obviously wasn’t mature enough to understand what she really meant. Then again, do we ever when we are young? As for Barbie, I loved her and adored her pearly white teeth. I had the Barbie three-story mansion with the pull string elevator, but I didn’t get the corvette. I don’t recall thinking about why I didn’t look like Barbie. I just enjoyed playing with her, Skipper, and Ken with the other kids on my block. Fortunately I didn’t fall into the bogus world of trying to resemble Barbie. But, I do have a five-year old who thought for an instant that Barbie resembles a real woman. Children at that age don’t fully mature or comprehend the idea of what is fake as in imagination and what is real. Thank you for the blog. It opened my eyes and mind up about letting my daughter know that Barbie and any other doll character is phony and was made from someone’s drawing book.

  38. I found reading this post amazing! I have an 11 year- old sister who interestingly has never liked Barbie dolls. But on the other hand, I grew up obsessed with Barbie and the clothing made especially for her. I do remember comparing myself to Barbie and noticing she has blonde hair and I have dark brown hair; she has blue eyes and I have brown eyes. There still is not a Latina Barbie doll and glad there is not because she would most likely not look close to a Latina’s body type. I recall not even wanting to let anyone but me touch the Barbie dolls in my room because I believed they were so pretty that someone could ‘mess’ them up. Thinking back, I should have allowed my friends and cousins to take her apart and make something more creative and useful with the parts, as Justine’s daughter did. I had an entire collection of Barbie dolls, from a Barbie with a ball gown to a Barbie with a bikini at the beach. But the reality is that I would never and will never ever look like Barbie because I would not be healthy and would need to “crawl” as the Wellness Resource Center at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee mentions. But, Barbie can definitely bring several girls and women to feel down about their own bodies; leading some towards unhealthy and life- threatening habits with eating or plastic surgery. So why can’t we all just make a project out of the Barbie dolls like Justine’s daughter did?

  39. Growing up, Barbie was not my favorite. I enjoyed the guy stuff more. Around age 8 or 9 is when I started liking Barbie because I was forced to by my parents. Christmas time was when I got my first doll and I started to slowly like her. As much as I enjoyed playing with my brothers toys, I became a fan of Barbie. I ended up getting the dollhouse, and the accessories that went along with it. I knew I did not look like Barbie much, but I loved watching the commercials that had of her. Then, on Disney Channel, I remember the movie “Life Size” came out with Lindsay Lohan and Tyra Banks. I loved it. But I was confused because Barbie was light skinned with blonde hair, and Tyra Banks who played the role of Barbie was dark skin with dark hair. Even at a young age I was socialized by the media to believe things as they were advertised. Barbie should be light skinned and here we have a movie about a real life barbie who is beautiful, skinny, tall, long hair, with all the right accessories (house, car, clothing) but she is of a minority ethnicity. From a young age on media can play a big role in our lives. Whether we choose to accept it or not we are prone to believing into things we sometimes do not want to believe or accept. As we get older we just learn to choose to accept what we want to accept even thou at times that does seem difficult to because of all the pressure media sets for us.

  40. It’s true, Barbie is an icon. She is an icon for little girls, and they completely aspire to look just like her. Barbie was a huge part of my childhood! I had baskets and baskets full of Barbies. I can remember always getting the blonde Barbies as gifts but I didn’t like those ones too much because I didn’t think they looked anything like me, so I would ask my mom to purchase me the “olive skinned” versions instead. Even though I started to collect the “darker” Barbies, it was still a love hate relationship because they were just so perfect looking. I remember times where I would look at my dolls then look at myself in the mirror and not understand why I didn’t have big almond shaped eyes, long silky hair and other Barbie traits. I know some parents may not see Barbie as a big deal and they just say, “oh it’s just a doll”, but these dolls are what little girls use as a reference. The size and shape of Barbie is so unrealistic, but little girls do not realize that. They think that they should have giant boobs and a stick sized waist as they grow older, just like Barbie. I agree with the idea that before you let your daughters play with Barbies, you should have a sit down conversation to them about how Barbie isn’t supposed to be realistic or comparable to real humans. My parents didn’t have that conversation with me and so I thought it was natural to want to look like Barbie. There is nothing natural about wanting to look like Barbie, we are taught as little girls that we should want to look like Barbie. All in all, I think we should stop teaching little girls that women should look like this doll or at least parents should educate their child with what reality is and how Barbie is just fake and not supposed to be realistic, just how the mom in this article did. I think that it is awesome that the daughter was able to actually show in art how Barbie made her feel and realize that Barbie isn’t a good role model to look up to. -D.O.

  41. I remember growing up, I played with Barbies, and however, I remember them not being a big part of my life. Mainly because my parents believed that it was more important to have clothing and food, than toys; which I agree with them. The times I would play Barbies was usually when I was with my friends. I clearly remember one of them having the whole set of accessories and house stuff. She had the living room, bedroom, kitchen and I remember that everyone thought she was cool because she had all Barbie accessories. I remember that playing Barbie’s likes our role models and we wanted to be like them when I grew up. For instance, Barbie was popular and everyone liked her. Also, there was the Barbie that got married and etc. It was just a way that society was teaching gender roles. Even though I did not play Barbies very often, I think that it still influenced my life.

  42. When I was a little girl I was very hard on myself. Barbie did not make that any better. I recall an occasion when I asked my mother why I don’t look like barbie. Her hair is so silky and long, she has long thin legs and an “incredibly” thin body. I wanted to look just like that, I would think that that is the way a woman should look. I did not learn anything from just sitting in my room and playing with barbie. If anything, my insecurities grew stronger. Barbie has this “perfect” life and her appearance is flawless. Now that I am older I think that barbie is a horrible example for women out there. In addition, I don’t see why girls are obligated to play with barbie when they are kids and do “girl” things such as brushing her hair, do her makeup etc. It just tells us how girls are exposed to gender socializing in their early years already. They think that what is expected from them is to be pretty, do makeup and have very long and nice hair. It is so sad that girls are exposed to that in such an early age. No wonder many girls are so insecure. While boys play with cars, action figures, creative stuff girls are told to play with barbie. Why do boys get to be creative and play with more creative toys whereas girls get to just play with barbie and her makeup. That tells us how sick our world is and how women are not supposed to do anything else but worry about what they look like and constantly diet to look “perfect”. I wish they could just make barbie a little curvier; put some weight on her and make her look like the rest of the women out there.

  43. As the only girl in my family, I remember for my birthday and christmas I would always receive a Barbie or any Barbie Accessories. I remember I liked playing “House” and wanted to grow up and do all the “amazing” things Barbie could do. As I read this article, I realized that deep down I didn’t really like playing Barbie, this is what my parents and other family members made me play because I was a girl and what girl doesn’t like Barbies? Tell this day I complain to my mom why she never put me into a sport when I was younger like my brothers. For them, my “fun” was staying in my room playing with dolls. I think Barbies are good for a young girls imagination. And If oneday I were to have a daughter, I might let her play with dolls but I’ll let her know that these dolls are only for imagination; they’re not real. I would want her to play sports (since I didn’t have the chance) and not get into the “Barbie Fantasy world.”

  44. Barbie has been a cultural icon for the past fifty years and remains one of the most popular dolls among young girls. I myself have had a Barbie when I was younger and enjoyed very much to dress her up and play with her hair. As a young child I was fascinated by the Barbie’s beauty and her endless options for clothing. I wanted more than anything to be like Barbie, a beautiful and stylish girl. Barbie’s features are biologically impossible to have, yet many young girls strive to obtain Barbie’s figure. Even though I believe that Barbie has tainted young girls’ views on beauty, I feel like the author’s artwork is unnecessary. Yet I do support her feelings against Barbie and the negative impact she has on young girls.

  45. Actually JJ, studies show that boys and men of this generation are rapidly developing body and self-image issues as a result of the muscular ideal that is being fed to them through cartoons, comic, and the media. ~Pia

  46. Gee, let’s blame a harmless doll and not take responsibility for ourself. If you can’t love yourself in the first place….DON’T BLAME A DOLL. Its funny that boys don’t have this problem with their dolls…aka action figures….and their muscular bodies. It seems some girls already had these “issues” before they ever had a doll. DON’T BLAME A DOLL FOR YOUR PROBLEMS.

  47. I remember playing with Barbies as a young girl. I had at least 20 of them. I enjoyed playing with them because I could make them do anything I wanted. They had jobs, went on vacations, and would go on epic journeys. That being said, I never tried to aspire my body image after Barbie and her freakishly tan and skinny size. In fact, as the years progressed, my friends and I made fun of the general body image of Barbie. We would joke about the fact that her feet were always pointed and that her naked body was certainly a strange sight (Seriously, huge rounded breasts and absolutely nothing to have in her bikini area?).
    I know many girls wanted to be Barbie, but because I had imagination and power over my dolls, I never saw the need to become the 5 foot 11, 90 pound, double-D cup sized, and blonde doll that I had come to enjoy.

  48. Barbie dolls to me represent how you become the “perfect woman” in order to succeed in life or anything. When little girls play with Barbie dolls they always say I want to be like that when I grow up. They will like to be skinny, light skin and have nice outfits to be famous and attract people. In today’s world billboards and magazines portray what “beauty” is and the media makes a big deal about beauty. The media always goes for the women who look great, but have no personality. The media doesn’t give women with a little extra weight and have a great personality a chance at all. I feel women should like themselves of who they are and not take advice from other people at all. Just be yourself!

  49. This article made look at Barbie in different way. I have always thought of Barbie as an unachievable body and beauty image but never really thought about how it can affect a child. I have a five year cousin and what i find amazing is that like stated she likes the white barbie instead of the hispanic or African American despite the fact that she is hispanic and African American. It is quite amazing that a nine year old could understand that the barbie and brat dolls is an unattainable image and not allow i to suppress her but instead demonstrate art an diet out that anger and suppression. I think that all mothers should take the time to explain to their children that though barbie may be very popular she is make believe, fake not an image that they should want to attain but instead just play make believe and be happy with themselves.

  50. As a young girl gets to their teenage year they normally find something to look up to something or someone to influence on her appearance. Girls take in heavily of what the media give to us and Barbie definitely influences the girl’s right from, adolescence. This make them set unrealistic goals, both consciously and unconsciously. As soon as they figure they can’t attain this goal, it begins to affect them negatively and eventually gives them a big dent in their self-esteem. Although Barbie is not only to be blame for this our media, Models, and music video definitely have made their names in causing the problems. I say we avoid buying such thing for our little ones and teach them that it all that matters is taking care of themselves and what ever others think doesn’t matter except it healthy for them.

  51. Barbie played a huge role in my life for many years because I was the only child for a while. I never had anyone to play with so I had at least five different Barbies. I never acknowledged how much Barbie can actually impact a young child whether it is in a good or bad way. However, it impacted my life in a negative way because I am very self conscious about my appearance including my body image. I have always questioned why I had a darker skin color, unlike Barbie who had an ivory skin color. She always seemed so perfect and beautiful. It was not until I grew up and realized this image does not exist anywhere in society. No matter how hard a girl tries to have the perfect body it will never be as thin as Barbies. I appreciate that Justine has educated her daughter enough to make her realize earlier in life that this “perfect” image does not exist. It has inspired me to educate my younger sisters who may also face this issue that I dealt with for many years. I never thought about how my sisters might interpret Barbie, so this makes me want to do somewhat of the same project Justine and her daughter did. It is articles like this that give girls hope on body image issues.

  52. I am able to relate to your experience for the reason that beauty is not spoken in my household unless i am told that i need to lose weight. Media does have an impact in the way I see myself. Every time I watch TV, look at magazines or even pass through a build board, the messages they are portraying is that beauty means to be thin and light skin. As a young child, I remember playing with Barbie dolls and always trying to fit with the ideal beauty image. As i became older, I noticed that constantly I compared myself to other girls who were thin and light skin. As a teenager, I struggled with body image issues which made me very self-conscious and my self-esteem was very low. I was always embarrassed about my body that I would wear sweaters even during summer. As I became more educated about this issue, I learned how to embrace my body and to love myself for who I am.

  53. While I was reading this articel, about half way through I couldn’t help but wonder what would I tell my little girl if I ever had to introduce Barbie to her. I tried to think of all the alternative ways to tell her that barbie isn’t real. Then I continued reading and loved how well the situation was handled by Justine and her daughter. Cleary the connection between her and her daughter must have been strong to begin with in order for her daughter to know that her mother is basically trying to save her. Art is a clear way for us to express our emotions and how we can feel about things at time. The way barbie was physically destroyed was amazing. She is so unreal its ridiculous. When I was young I would fight with my little sister about how my barbie was prettier than hers. This isn’t just an issue and a threat to future women but to men as well. The way they percieve us was totally changed by a doll. A white skinny doll who’s not real. This then just makes me automatically see that barbie isn’t real and neither will a perfect woman be real. This barbie could’ve been the reason to so many issues in society today in regards to respect, marriage, divorce, and harrasment. A threat to evolution is what barbie is. I enjoyed reading this article very much. Thank you.

  54. This article was very insightful and very poignant to the fact that Barbie is most little girls first toy and it is the image that they see as ideal. Little girls do not realize that the doll is instilling unrealistic images of what a beautiful woman looks like. The fact that the measurements of the doll were translated to actual humans and found to be impossible shows that it can only damage a girls self image when comparing herself to Barbie. Barbie, like many other aspects of society, serves as another tool to make women feel less about themselves and perpetuate an image that only does damage.

  55. Many girls look up to the “image of Barbie”. It has been around for more than 20 years, and it still makes new dolls every year. Girls look up to Barbie because she is portrayed as the perfect person. By the way the doll looks, what jobs she has, and how skinny she is.

  56. I really enjoyed reading this article because it reminded me of what I considered beautiful growing up. Barbie has become the face of the mainstream beauty standard. I remember I always felt that I had to resemble my barbie dolls to feel pretty. It is definitely true, few parents can effectively combat “the onslaught of conflicting values and norms perpetuated outside the home.” Unfortunately my parents were not part of those few. At one point my mom even went as far as buying me a blonde wig so I could resemble Barbie. It is amazing what conversations regarding beauty can do to children.

  57. As a kid I wanted nothing more than to have a few Barbies. Problem is, I was a boy and according to my parents boys weren’t allowed to have Barbies. I wanted them to join my action figures. I never understood why I didn’t have any female figures in my imaginary toy world. I did get a chance to add Barbies to my toy world when I spent a playdate with a female friend. I brought all my toys and was excited for there to finally be females in my toy universe.

    Of course there was a major problem: Barbie wasn’t allowed to be involved in the games I wanted to play. The girl refused to get her dirty or do anything even slightly aggressive. Apparently Barbie is only allowed to change outfits and drive poorly made American sports cars.

    I guess the point of this is that Barbie is more than just a toy for kids. She is a hero. Someone to look up to. She really is the only role model in pop culture for a lot of girls. I wish that she had changed with the times. Her proportions are impossible to achieve in real life and ruin the way boys and girls view women. Her perky demeanor and lack of true substance damage the very essence of sex relations.

    This post really makes me wish that there were more options for kids when it came to their toys. I can’t help but wonder if Barbie could have used some time hanging out with GI Joe, and vice versa.

  58. Very insightful post about how the Barbie Doll affect kids view on beauty and the internal struggle it presents them with later on in life. Before reading this article I was fairly informed on the subject of barbie dolls and their influence on children, mainly little girls, but after reading this article I have learned much more. It is terrible knowing how many people buy and have bought these dolls for their kids, not knowing its long term affects on their view of the image of beauty. If only they knew to begin with that the way the Barbie Doll looks, if she were a real women, is extremely exaggerated and stretched from what is even possible to live while looking like she does.

    -Michael Ryan

  59. Most females do model themselves after this ‘perfect’ and ideal lifestyle the Barbie has: being well groomed, being beautiful, and thin. Thee ‘white’ Barbie is actually advertised and put more on shelfs then any of the other ones sold. I can honestly say, I do not know one girl who has not owned a Barbie doll in their life time; Heck! I think I even gave a few away for Christmas last year! I feel like Barbie resembles plastic, plastic resembles fakeness (like the “Mean Girls” film). This isn’t something that anyone should strive to be, but reality is, people do! I can agree that the dolls do get tortured for their unwritten guidelines on ‘how to be beautiful’, I once had a friend who used to pull the heads off or cut the barbies hair to make them look ugly, she was also about 9 years old when she did it to her dolls. This article was a great read!

  60. During my childhood I really was not much of barbie fan due to the fact that I did not find any connection or interest to that blonde, colored eyed thin doll. It is not until my adolescent years that I figured out reasons why I never felt that connection. One of the main reasons was that being Hispanic we shared no physical similarities, I had brown eyes and black hair or maybe it was because I was more on the tomboy side. Personally I was just never fond of her, but agreeing with this article it is a pity that many girls look up to her as a beauty icon. Similar to Barbie, Dora the explorer might be bilingual and might portray Hispanic features, but reality is she is the epitome of a brainwashed Mexican. As well as her counterpart Diego who has an altered Spanish accent..
    Barbies and princess concepts are nothing more than merely false depictions that reinforce set frameworks for young girls to abide. They reinforce stereotypes that in order for one to be beautiful they have to be thin.Barbie therefore is meant to be a socialization agent that helps maintain subordination roles in place from a very young crucial time of a young girls lifetime. Barbie is depicted as just being pretty, having fun in her mansion, surrounded by other barbie dolls with her Kent doll. Young girls then taught that in order to get a husband all they need is to look pretty. I personally being a sociology major would never give a barbie doll as a present because Barbie serves as a subliminal component towards male dominance and patriarchy. Although there are other racial barbies in the market, they sell less because white, skinny and blondes are the trend and the only accepted beauty norm. It is not until society changes its view on acclaimed, “white and thin beauty” that barbie will be just any other doll rather than then role model for young girls insecurities.

  61. I wish I would have been allowed an outlet such as the one mentioned. I recall playing with Barbie as a young girl and wanting to be just like her…she had EVERYTHING! She was beautiful and thin. She had a nice car and mansion and she would switch occupcation every month. Sadly, my reality was far from hers. I did not have the “perfect” body so I starved myself for seven years. I was not born into a wealthy family so I have had to work hard in school and work in order to get to where I am now. Growing up with Barbie and other female dolls out there made me have low self-esteem and I was always aware of my flaws. As time has passed I have grown comfortable in my own skin and I no longer desire to be Barbie. I enjoy being me.

  62. I am not a mother, but I have played with barbie dolls before. I have brushed their hair and taken them in the bath with me to clean them. I didn’t realize that Barbie was not proportional to the rest of her body. I also didn’t realize that her massive upper body was so “heavy” that she would have to crawl on all fours if she was a real human. Just the other day I was buying toys for my brothers “Adopt a family” project, I had to buy toys for a young 7 year old girl. I was with my mom and we looked at Barbie and we started talking about this view of the ideal woman that this toys persuades young children to think. My mom said, “Have you noticed that Barbie’s boobs haven gotten smaller?” I honestly didn’t. My mom said we can not get this young girl a Barbie because my mother would not be okay with me playing with it now that she knows the background of Barbie. To me its crazy, that something that I played with every day when I was little, is now a sign of an unhealthy body and creates eating and body disorders. I use to have the Barbie convertible and the Barbie house and everything and anything I could get my parents to buy me. I had my own little Barbie world in my room. I wonder if my body image would be different now if I had grown up knowing that Barbie is not natural and that women don’t look like this. I am honestly surprised that the maker, Mattel, has not changed the direction that Barbie is directing kids towards about their body.

  63. I really liked what Justine did in talking to her daugheter about Barbie. Parents should take this as an example and speak to their daughters about body image and what is really important. Children need to be exposed by this information so they do not fall into the mainstream of thinking their body has to be a certain way. The home is where on learns what to value and who better than a child’s parents to teach them.

  64. Barbie has been the biggest mistake that has been created. It doesn’t benefit our young girls in any way, shape, or form, all it teaches them is to have a low self-esteem and it also contributes to them becoming anorexic or bolimic. That’s why it is important for society as a whole to help our young girls and explain that the “BARBIE IMAGE” does not exist.

  65. I was also moved by what the 9- year-old had done . I was the same way growing up I was never a fan of Barbies because they all looked the same and had the same accessories mini skirt and heels. I wasn’t into the girly details of her and when I was growing up they had very few if any that I remember that weren’t so girly and more tomboy. My older sister was obsessed with playing with them, she would spend hours changing their outfits and doing their hair. She rarely engaged in the whole idea of imaginary play with them. However, I would steal them and hide them or pull their heads off because I never wanted to be like Barbie because I looked nothing like her being dark skinned Hispanic, where my sister was very light skinned . I never knew why she was so into them. I just feel that I can relate to the young girls creativity with her Barbies because I had similar ideas about them growing up.

  66. As a young child I can remember spending countless hours playing with Barbie. She was everything I wanted to be when I was older. She was beautiful. She was thin. She had a nice car and a mansion and she could switch occupations whenever she wanted. But my reality was far from Barbie’s “ideal” life or the life of the “perfect girl” depicted through the media . I had an eating disorder for seven years and I had to work hard in school and at my job in order to get as far as I have and be able to afford the things I own. It took some time to realize that I will never look like Barbie or any other doll on the market and I will never have a “perfect” life but I can confidently say I’m fine with that. I am comfortable being me.

  67. This was a very inspiring article and it was very amazing to me that 90% girls will own a Barbie doll in their life. This will be one of the many soc socialize toll that many mothers will uses indirectly for their young girls. This is the image that we are giving our young girls in American society. Furthermore I found it to have a connection to the main stream society in about the jobs that women should have. I can remember as a little girl having my Barbie doll that was a “mommy” and it came with a baby doll and of course it was a girl baby. This is an example of what we were discussing in class about how girls always get baby dolls to socialize them that they will be mommies when they grow up. Thus another connection that I made was with the image that Barbie has nobody is ever that thin with those kind of proportions , in the real world Barbie would not even be a real women she would be a girl because she is not menstruating because she is too thin.

  68. When I was around Justine’s age, I probably already owned about 20 barbies in my life time: a variety of ethnicity’s, Disney princesses, fashionistas, teachers and so fourth [yet predominantly of ivory skin & blond hair]. I had no idea that the object i played w/ would someday interfere w/ self esteem… that I struggled w/ A LOT in middle school [NOT even high school]. My sister who’s only 5 years younger than me [I’m 19 now] owned a BRATZ doll years ago, and after finding that the whole ankle would have to come off if she wanted to change her shoes, she ended up leaving the doll w/o them. Its complete torture for little girls, and i hope that more people will begin to realize how a subliminal tactic of body imagery [such as the Barbie] can send the wrong message to many young ones. Props to Justine for making better use of the Barb’s!! Wonderful article 🙂

  69. I loved Barbie as a little girl, and as a grown up, I still love her, and have a few collector edition Barbies.

    While I understand the frustration that many feel about Barbie, there are some problems with the argument about “if Barbie was a real person.” For one thing, Barbie is not a real person. She is designed as a product, and in order to get certain visual proportions on a small scale, the actual shape is distorted. (Think about how Michaelangelo’s David’s head is HUGE because he was meant to perch on a ledge high above the viewer and the head was enlarged to compensate for visual perspective.)

    For another thing, Barbie is meant to stimulate your imagination. My Barbies were usually company presidents or private eyes, not rock stars or ballerinas. It didn’t matter if Mattel dressed her up as a rock star or a ballerina, I had the choice to name her something else (usually Michelle) and give her another purpose/job/dream.

    And Barbie, as a doll, is nowhere near as pernicious as the airbrushed models presented everywhere as “normal.” Barbie at least has hips, and a rounded face with flesh on it. If you found a human being that looked like Barbie, the fashion industry would call her FAT.

    Not to mention that Barbie IS waning as a marketable item. KGOY is a trend taught to marketers these days, and it stands for “Kids Getting Older, Younger.” I stopped playing with Barbies around age 13-14. Now, Barbie’s demographic tops out at 10. As a toy, she’s lost a LOT of market share to the Disney Princesses and Bratz dolls. To modern kids, Barbie is a throwback.

    I’m eagerly awaiting the anti-Bratz art projects of the next generation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.