Hello Curvy Barbie! #ibbiwoman

Hello Curvy Barbie!

And your sisters Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, Barbie and Barbie. Welcome to the ever-expanding family of Barbie’s.

Mattel, maker of Barbie Dolls since 1959, has announced the introduction (available now on the internet, in stores in March) three new ‘Barbie dolls’: Curvy Barbie, Petite Barbie and Tall Barbie. Each new addition to the Barbie family is called Barbie so it’s like the original Barbie is being cloned in a variety of incarnations to represent diversity, ethnic and otherwise. But we all still first think of Barbie as blonde, blue eyed, skinny and busty.

Like most stories there are two sides: Purists claim Barbie’s size was basically irrelevant to the child playing with the toy as her imagination put her into any fantasy the child concocted, simply a toy representing whoever the child wanted her to be (Melanie Notkin, NY Post, 1/29/16); Diversity Dogmatists believe the child playing with a Barbie should be able to pick the image that best relates to her specifically (Nicole Lyn Pesce, NY Daily News 1/29/16). So play, like most things in our current life, becomes not only a matter of choice but also a matter of perspective and political correctness.

Okay, that’s the world we live in but it is a bit unrealistic to think that expanding the options among the various Barbie’s is going to resolve any diversity issues. And when the front page of The New York Post headlines “Meet New Fat Barbie” and the internet is ablaze with a variety of “Fat Barbie” references, we need to either step off the edge of a flat world or let our feet touch ground.

New Diverse Barbie Dolls

The fact is Barbie has graduated from her original size 0 to a beefed up size 10. Excuse me? Did I read that right? The curvy woman hovers more around 16/18/20 and statistically is a size 14.  So how does a ‘beefed’ up size 10 get to be called curvy?  By giving Barbie a bigger bootie and a slightly larger tummy are we really letting little girls know good body image and body acceptance are more important than trying to empower a toy.  Isn’t Barbie just a doll on which we try to project our own adult anxieties?   Isn’t Mattel branding Barbie as something empowering just a great marketing plan?  On their own do little girls really think about body image or do they think about it (positively or negatively) as a response to adult concerns?

Bottom line: it’s a toy folks, just a toy. Let’s try not to take imagination and creativity out of play and focus instead of on the issues which as adults should be more pressing.  As an i.b.b.i. woman, bold, beautiful and irresistible, you are in a position to represent positive body image, self confidence and be the role model for all those little girls who really only want to play with their dolls in a make believe world of their own creation.

Oh, if you really want to explore the Barbie problem, I suggest you read the cover story ‘Now can we stop talking about my body?’ in Time Magzine,2/8/16.

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