I am a Barbie girl, who has indeed lived in a Barbie world for a good portion of my life. Let me tell you about my experiences in this plastic (and sometimes battery powered) world.
Barbie was never just a slim body and pretty face to me. Sure, I wanted her to look cute in her mini-dresses and grab all the boys’ attention. But that wasn’t all I wanted for her. I wanted her to have a lot of money. I wanted her to work in an office building, drive a nice convertible, and have tons of parties that she didn’t have to clean up after. I wanted her to have good relationship with her mother without having to visit her more than once a week. When I got a little older, I even wanted her to have an “experimental night” with my Britney Spears doll who I pretended was just another ordinary gal because my mom could only afford to buy me a limited amount of dolls, so of course I had to get the limited edition Baby One More Time doll. I wanted Barbie to do it all and look good doing it (no pun intended).
Barbie had so many jobs. She was an astronaut, a doctor, a veterinarian, a chef, a teacher, a rock star, a gymnast, a mother, a princess, and so much more. I mean, she may have been all these things because of her white privilege, but still. We had to start somewhere, and I’m also not educated enough to talk about the lack of diversity with dolls and action figures in the 90s-00s. A lot of things were lacking diversity back then so let’s not narrow it down to Barbie dolls at this time.
I never stared at my Barbie doll and wished I was tall, skinny, and blonde. It might have been because for most of my life I was tall and skinny (but not blonde, until recently), but it was mainly because I just didn’t look at her that way. I saw her for her goals, achievements, and independence. Which is why whenever people talk about how Barbie isn’t a good toy for little girls, I get angry.
The girl did it all and had it all- which is what I really wanted. I wanted to have a job, a car, and a big house. I wanted the Ken in my life to be in the background of my life, not the breadwinner I had to get money from so I could go shopping. I wanted to be talented, educated, and rich like Barbie. Why didn’t people focus on that? I’ve come across so many articles and videos where people completely bash Barbie dolls, focusing on of her weight, figure, and skin tone… and all of it was completely understandable. I’m not taking Barbie’s side when it comes to body representation. But in a time where the media seems to only focus on a woman’s body, aren’t we all offenders if we’re ignoring what Barbie’s done
for the world and paying more attention to her unrealistic measurements?
Look, I understand I have an unpopular opinion on this. I know there are studies that show Barbie’s body affects how little girls grow up with body image issues and all that. It’s not incorrect and I’m not saying it never happened. Maybe I’m one of a million girls who didn’t cry themselves to sleep because they didn’t have a flat stomach or almost D-cup sized boobs like Barbie, but I know that doesn’t change the fact that other young girls did.
All I’m saying is that Barbie has made mistakes in her life, dating Blaine being in the top five. But maybe she herself had succumbed to the pressure of the media wanting her to have a “perfect” appearance. Maybe she’s struggling with body issues and hasn’t been able to get the right help because every Barbie therapist in town is also skinny and tall. Maybe she’s just going through her own shit and needs help from her friends (us) right now, but all we’re doing is shaming her.
In times like this, we need to be there for her. We look like total hypocrites if we shame her on her body when she landed on the moon before Neil Armstrong did. We need to let her know her bust size doesn’t matter more than her medical career. We need to tell her that it’s okay if she’s short. If she has dark skin. If her waist isn’t small and her thighs touch and chafe a little. She needs to know she’s allowed to have flaws, because she’s only human!