For years Barbie has been criticized for her shape and appearance. Recently, I have seen a more realistic “Barbie” that someone developed with human proportions. I do think the realistic version is adorable and makes a good “Skipper”, but she’s not Barbie. Barbie is an icon. She is also a doll. The idea that she skews body image and causes eating disorders in girls, in my opinion, is kind of BS. Cabbage Patch dolls didn’t cause girls to want to eat, get chubbier and live in a garden, did they?
Barbie is beautiful, but not because of her unrealistic body. It is her clothes and the IDEA that a girl could have any career she wanted and she didn’t need to be married or have a boyfriend to do it. Sure, over the years, she has had Ken, and even wedding dresses but to me she was always the quintessential single gal. I have always loved Barbie, albeit, the older versions. The newer revamped Barbie, as she has been to look more “realistic” actually makes her look freaky and not like the icon she is in the SilkStone versions. I like the vintage Barbies, I like the clothes that have been designed by the likes Donna Karan, Bob Mackie, Robert Best, along with all the other famous designers that I can not yet afford. It is a little way that I can have designer items for a modest price and display them.
Growing up, I had all the Barbie paraphernalia. It was my escape into another world. She and all her friends were my friends. I don’t recall ever wanting to look like my doll. Sure, I went through a stage where I wanted to be blond. But to have body proportions like her, no. Plus she always lost her shoes on her tiny little feet, and I love nice shoes and not lose one of them, like Cinderella every time I put them on. I cut her hair, died it colors, she had sex with Ken in the Big Yellow Barbie Motorhome. She was a Cowgirl, A Cheerleader, a Ballerina, an Airplane Pilot, a Veterinarian, a Doctor, and a World Traveler. She went camping, 4-wheeling, played Star Wars, and had a beautiful closet of clothes. She could do anything, there were no limits and I grew up with the same idea that I could be anything I wanted to be, and not because of what I looked like or didn’t look like.
Barbie still graces my walls, I have Barbies that were my mother’s. I have my own. I have beautiful artwork and photos framed on my walls. Still, I do not want to look like her. But I do want to do the things she allowed my mind to know that I could. And for that I think she gets a bad rap. Maybe I am an anomaly, but I think the airbrushed photos that grace magazine cover are much more detrimental to women and girls. I do look at magazines and wonder how my skin can look like that person’s. Or how she got her makeup to look like that, how to highlight my face that way, how to get my hair to be so full and perfect. But look like Barbie, no. She’s a doll. She isn’t a person. When we alter what real people look like consistently, and obscenely, again in my opinion, that is what causes body image issues! Smoothing skin, contouring or shaving off sometimes inches from legs, arms, waists, adding fake hair – that is unrealistic. That is where the backlash should be. Not on a doll that is over 50 years old.