Friday, May 24, 2013

Dolls-Good or bad image role models?

Shopping with my daughters today, I felt absolutely sickened by the appearance of a particular doll my 4 year old pointed out. I thought Barbie sent the wrong message, but look at the above picture for just a moment. She looks to be dressed in a French maid's costume, highly malnourished and possibly leaning against a stripper pole. Is this a doll for adults or children??

There isn't a perfect design solution to these dolls, as someone or some group will always find fault, but she could certainly stand a few extra inches around the middle, less "sexy" attire and better positioning in the package. 

In 1997, when Barbie was redesigned, she went from having a tiny waist, big hips, long legs, small feet and large/cone shaped breasts to having a slightly larger waist, big head, big lips, big feet and loads of makeup. So, I ask you, was this an improvement? 

According to Wikipedia,"Barbie's vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (chest), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). At 5'9" tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia." Children are bombarded with so many poor role models through television, magazines, social media and even their dolls. They grow up idolizing figures that have come from  incredibly strict regimes of diet and exercise, or drug abuse and malnourishment. Kids need healthy body images to aspire to. 

I have so much respect for people like Gwen Stefani who make it very clear that she works incredibly hard to be so fit. She doesn't look that incredible without working hard for it. At least girls know, when they look at her, that she wasn't born with that figure. Barbie should be redesigned to look more like Gwen-healthy, fit and funky! Now that is a doll I could support buying!

When I was little, my Mom caught me making faces in the rear view mirror in our car. When she asked me what I was doing, I told her I was "practicing my smile." She smiled back at me and said, "But you already have a beautiful smile, Jacqueline, and it's what is inside that matters most." I thought very carefully about what Mom had told me and after a few minutes said, "Does that mean bones are more important than skin?" Children are so innocent. We have an absolute responsibility to them to teach them right from wrong and provide them with positive images and role models. They believe what we teach them and show them. They aren't born racist, judgemental or critical. They aren't born with a sense of fashion or body image. We, as a society, teach them what to aspire to and what to believe in.

Toy companies are getting worse rather than better, in terms of providing positive images for our children. Dolls are more scandalous and GI Joe is somehow even more violent. As long as we continue to buy these toys for our kids, companies will continue to make and sell them. Why don't more people care about what our kids are being exposed to? I know I'm not alone in this.

I have two main rules when buying toys for my kids. 1-No guns and 2-Dolls must be appropriately dressed. I don't think that's asking too much.

Where do you stand on all of this? I would love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. Barbie's body disgusts me. I think the media and toy makers influence children at a young age that their body image does matter, when in reality it doesn't. I find the clothes on the doll in the photo trashy looking. I wish marketers would think twice about what image they are teaching young girls. They should be teaching girls to respect their body and be happy with who they are. People come in all different shapes and sizes. Thank you for sharing.