Barbie Victimized By Feminist Projections

plus sized barbie

Love the purple laptop.

Not that Mattel is falling for it, but twice this year, doll designers have floated “more realistic” Barbies.

realisticbarbie05The first surfaced during the summer and featured “average” measurements rather than the classically ridiculously unrealistic icon of the toy world.  The idea behind Ms. Average was to give little girls a more realistic role model rather than a doll that half-way resembles a real one.

Average Barbie is cute, but doesn’t quite score the kind of points in the glamour department that little girls look for when acting out their fantasies.  (Like it or love it, that’s what toys are all about.  It’s called fostering creativity.)

The second Barbie innovation, which was unveiled just in time to upset stomachs at Christmas, is called “Plus Size xbarbie-plus-size-pic.jpg.pagespeed.ic.tB7hG1_JMZBarbie.”  Aside from the incredibly exaggerated triple chin and impossibly skinny ankles supporting that kind of weight, she’s not THAT bad…but sort of defeats the purpose of playing out fantasies, which is what we do as children.  Barbie is ALL THAT, or at least she’s supposed to be since the majority of us out here have absolutely no chance of ever owning a Malibu dream house, or a dune buggy to go with it.

Plus, many of us are no longer blondes.

At any rate, in no time at all a firestorm of controversy erupted with a key argument from the peanut gallery, I mean the Huffington Post:

when posted last week by Plus-Size-Modeling.com, the depiction of a Barbie with a double-chin and curvier limbs sparked debate. Over 35,000 people have “liked” it, but many have taken issue with the doll’s so-called extreme size. “No one is naturally fat for gods sake, that’s sending the message to girls that it’s ok to look like this and be unhealthy…”

No discussion on the crappy food supply or the inverted food pyramid or talk about the amount of time we spend parked in front of computers….

Oh, yeah, that’s a fantasy little girls want to play out.  Honey Boo-Boo in a party dress.

Sending messages…is that ACTUALLY what adults think happens with toys, and make believe characters?  Didn’t we learn the lesson that kids are perfectly able to separate fantasy from reality with Sesame Street in 1969?  And do these people NOT realize that kids look up to actual adults – usually parents – as role models and try to ape them?

Apparently not, if feminists are to be believed.  Every little aspect of our lives, especially for delicate little hothouse flowers known as girls, seems to have some sort of message attached.  In America, where we are bombarded with body image messaging from cradle to grave, classic Barbie, according to the critics, gives girls an impossible one to live up to.

Well, yeah, when you quit growing at age 12 somewhere around five feet and have no chance at reaching 5’7”, the illusion is pretty much shattered.  Not getting into the curves as some of us can give Barbie a run for her money in that department.

Where was I…Oh, yeah, fantasy and reality – and how adults make a mess out of mixing up the two.

When we get down to it, most of what this whole exercise is – both the average and plus-size versions of Barbie – is adult projection.  A comment on a piece from the summer pretty much nailed it:

I think adults too often transfer their way of thinking and their experiences onto kids, but kids just don’t have the same mentality as adults do, nor do they have so many years of society influencing their ideas about body image and self image. I think for most kids, Barbie is just a toy.

On a side note, I read that the reason why Barbie’s proportions are so out of whack originally came down to her clothing. The seams of the clothes added a lot of bulk, especially at the waist, so the waist was narrowed to accommodate this.

What do you know – a practical reason for the Barbie proportions.  Actually makes a lot of sense for those of us who know how to sew.

In the end, it would be rather surprising if Mattel took up either designer on mass production.  The original Barbie sells just fine, even now in such an enlightened age.  They are not going to mess with success.

What is not surprising, though, is how the adults are trying to take all the fun out of childhood.  No fairy tales or fantasy, just reality.  The question is who’s reality.  Projecting one person’s reality onto someone else’s fantasy is just rude.

Sad…and I never had Barbies.  (Did have plenty of real life make up, hair rollers, and a dress up box to play in, though.)

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Categories: Culture, Feminists

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Looks like bloated, beached whale Barbie to me. My girls never really liked Barbies very much but they sure liked Polly Pockets. They did, however, manage to get ahold of some of those Bratz dolls. Now those i actually hated. The simple fact is that toys are not about reality, but fantasy. And to insist that they somehow must reflect ‘reality’ is just kind of depressing.

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