The Irrational Beauty Standards of Barbie

TW: Weight, Diet Culture

Children love dolls. Whether it’s the 18’’ American Girl Doll or the infamous Barbie doll, young girls and boys growing up play with these dolls constantly. However, the toxicity of Barbie isn’t really brought up that much to attention. This article is not meant to say that playing with dolls is wrong; it’s just to point out the flaws of the doll community, including diet culture, racism, sexism, and more.

Barbie was first invented in 1959 by the company Mattel. It was an 11-inch doll that resembled an adult woman. From there, the Barbie company grew. Slowly, they introduced more dolls, such as Ken, Skipper, and Stacy. The Barbie doll also showed young girls that they could be whoever they wanted to be. Barbie was an astronaut, a doctor, a computer engineer, and so much more. Mattel introduced several different types of dolls, as well, such as their Around the World dolls, representing dolls from different cultures, and the doll that was in a wheelchair. It seems like Barbie is perfect, right? One major issue is overlooked. Some of the other minor issues will also be covered.

In 1963, the Baby-Sitter Barbie was introduced, showing that women can babysit other kids. However, this Barbie doll came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight. Losing weight can be healthy for some people, however, it should be overseen by a dietician. This one-page book that Barbie read-only had one piece of incredibly unhealthy advice: Don’t Eat. This book caused a ton of backlash on the Barbie community. Not only this, but a few years later, another Barbie came out in 1965 called the Sleepover Barbie. Normal girls’ sleepovers are wacky and wild and fun. Barbie’s sleepovers consist of diet books and scales. This scale was set to 110 pounds, permanently. Barbie is influencing diet culture with unhealthy recommendations. Plus, 110 pounds is extremely underweight for Barbie’s body type and height. 

Other inappropriate dolls have been created, such as the Totally Tattoo Doll, the Talking Barbie, and the Barbie Video Girl Doll. The Totally Tattoo Doll seemed like a creative way for kids to play with their dolls, however, it’s when Barbie was discovered with a tattoo of Ken right above her butt is when things become inappropriate. The Talking Barbie really set the stereotype about women when this doll came out. It was created so that young girls would have their Barbie dolls to talk to. Some of the most popular phrases that came out of this doll included, “Could we ever have enough clothes?” and “Math Class is tough.” This rationalized the stereotype that women were obsessed with shopping and couldn’t achieve anything when it came to STEM activities. Finally, the Barbie Video Girl Doll was immediately removed from Mattel after the fear that it would be used to shoot child p*rnography. Another doll that was created to spread wheelchair awareness, Becky, seemed like a great idea to bring back up the Barbie company. However, it was discovered that the wheelchair Barbie wouldn’t fit in the elevator in Barbie’s dreamhouse. 

There is also this syndrome entitled Barbie syndrome – it’s similar to some eating disorders. It is the idea of striving for the “Barbie Body”, one that is impossible to strive for and causes more harm than good. Spreading awareness over this issue and this article can help with pushing Mattel and other toy companies to include various types of bodies, religions, health conditions, races, and more.

Barbie has come a long way and has screwed up several times along the way. Thankfully, it seems as though Mattel is trying to fix their brand to be more inclusive to everybody. Creating new dolls such as the curvy doll, the tall doll, and the petite doll, along with many more skin colors and hairstyles. This has helped spread more normality along dolls in terms of body proportions, but the terms that Mattel has used have still been facing backlash. 

Nobody knows what the future is for Barbie, but it will surely be an interesting one. Thank you for reading this article. Remember, all bodies are beautiful and you are perfect just the way that you are.

I love you guys – <3 Carissa