Now We're All Barbie Girls
Barbie has been a staple in homes with young children for over half a century. Blonde hair, impossibly tiny waist, sparkling blue eyes. She was marketed as the up for anything, all-American girl. We grew up collecting her dressed up for dozens of different jobs, brushing her smooth, straight hair, and begging our parents for the Barbie Dream House. Even now, it's easy to idolize her petite (plastic) build, and that's exactly what so many did as children.
This week, Mattel announced that they would be releasing a more diverse line of Barbies. The aim of these new dolls is to include all body types, and make young girls feel more comfortable in their own skin. So my question is, what the hell took so long? It's 2016, and one of the largest toy manufacturers in the world is only now realizing that skinny and blonde are not the only type of women that exist.
To be fair, I feel a little twinge of guilt writing this because I am blonde and blue-eyed. Also because I was a huge fan of Barbie growing up. Although like most girls I know, I had a tendency to cut her hair and color her face with magic markers — just to make her look different than me. But I still love(d) her all the same.
I'm sure with this announcement came much scrutiny, as is typical for the time we're living in. I'm sure many white Americans see no issue in young children playing with a doll that's basically a perfect embodiment of the Aryan race. And truly, there isn't; the issue is the lack of diverse options. It's important for young children to be able to relate to the toys they're playing with, instead of growing older and wondering why they aren't naturally a size zero (not that those who are should be ashamed).
While it may seem trivial to change the looks of a young child's doll, it isn't. It's just one step forward in allowing these children to grow up loving themselves.
— TIME.com (@TIME) January 28, 2016
Note from the Editor-in-Chief:
Since this announcement, I've been reading a lot of people saying that Barbie did us a favor. That they aren't catching up, they are changing as the times are. But honestly, this isn't true at all.
Disney, and most children's networks for that matter, now have racially diverse shows, and even physically diverse characters. There are kids who are a double zero, but then also kids who are overweight. People will always argue that whatever is different from the "norm" is promoting something bad, but we obviously disagree.
If our television shows and our toys aren't promoting a realistic reflection of the world around our children, then what's the point of allowing them to watch and play? Children are more receptive than ever, and it's important that companies like Mattel, Disney, etc., make self acceptance a part of their brands.
It is 2016. No parent should have to explain to their dark skinned, wild-haired or white, curvy kid, why Barbie does not and will not look like them.
Truthfully, Barbie is way behind. Our hope is that a company like Mattel taking a step forward will only inspire other large influential companies to do the same. We hope this change will encourage these companies to accept diversity and promote a healthy picture of our children. Yes, it's our responsibility as parents, nannies, aunts, uncles, etc., to teach them they are enough. But it's hard to do that when they can't see anyone that looks like them in a toy shelf or on TV.
What are your thoughts on the changes Mattel is making? Tell us in a comment below!