Words and Ideas: Yes, let’s stop talking about Barbie’s body

Abbie Stuart

Recently, Mattel, the company that produces the popular doll, announced that Barbie is going to start coming in three new body types–petite, curvy, and tall–as well as her traditional body.

There has been a push for Barbie to be more inclusive of other body types for years and other toy makers have already created more realistic dolls, based off the average American young woman’s body type, for children to play with.

I am happy Barbie is becoming more inclusive. Children, male and female, are easily influenced, and body image is a discussion that has been tricky to navigate as we struggle to balance the importance between being healthy and the fact that being healthy doesn’t look the same on everyone.

However, I don’t remember looking at my Barbie’s growing up and thinking I should look like that.

Where people form their ideas of body image may vary, but I feel comfortable saying that most of us did not get our idea of the perfect body solely from Barbie. True, she’s thin and tall, which are traits that are usually considered attractive, but they are exaggerated, a point that didn’t escape the notice of my sisters and me growing up.

To me, Barbie is more about what a woman can do. Barbie has had careers ranging from doctors to mothers while telling women that all of these careers are okay for them to pursue. Somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost the ambitious aspect of Barbie and have become more concerned with the superficial part of Barbie.

Perhaps the times have simply changed and now it is necessary that Barbie comes in different body types. My fear is that Barbie’s body will never be diverse enough.

Barbie is only coming out in three new models: petite and thin, average and curvy, and tall and thin. None of those descriptions fit my body type, and I’m sure there are others who could agree.

Barbie needs to be allowed to simply be a toy. Mattel has done a great job recently of portraying young girls using Barbie to pretend they are experts in a number of fields, and this is what Barbie was intended for. She wasn’t supposed to be a role model for how young woman were supposed to look; she was supposed to be a role model for all that young women can do. I fully expect Curvy Barbie to do all of the things that Traditional Barbie has done because she can. If we are not to let size dictate who we are or what we do, then we should not let size dictate who Barbie is or what she does.