How many of you played with Barbie as a little girl? How many of you Barbie girls are plus size? Average size? Below average? Have there been studies on how Barbie playing affects our body image? How many of you blame playing with Barbie as the catalyst to your poor self-image, weight issues, eating disorders?
I don’t know the answers to those questions for anyone else but I do know the answers for myself and personally I think Barbie is getting a bad rap! Does anyone say that boys playing with GI Joe dolls or Ken (Barbie’s ever-present boyfriend) feel bad about their bodies because they don’t have the six-pack stomach and muscles of those play characters? What about playing with baby dolls; is that bad for girls too maybe making them think that they’ll only be able to be mommies caring for their babies? Or how about the princess dolls; will little girls playing with them see themselves as princesses waiting to be rescued by their handsome prince?
To me these things are simply toys; toys that in my childhood fostered imaginative play; toys that forged bonds between my sister and my friends; a type of play that made you creative, making worlds that exist in our heads not on TV or video games. Playing with Barbie in the summer brought my sister and I outdoors with Barbie vacationing in her camper, swimming in her pool. Unlike today’s kids who spend the majority of their time indoors playing things that have already been created for them, no imagination required.
With Barbie I could be anything; a doctor, an astronaut, a teacher, a veterinarian or a mother. I could be a fashion designer, a model, a makeup artist, a hairstylist. The list of possibilities was endless. Barbie gave me memories of time spent with my sister that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Likewise it gave me memories of playing with my daughter that I will always hold close to my heart.
Did playing with Barbie make me fat? Did she make me feel bad about myself? Do I, now as an adult, want to be like Barbie? The answer to all of these questions is no. I know the difference between reality and play. In fact I think playing with Barbie made me realize all the wonderful things I could be; things that without Barbie I may not have even known existed for a girl in this world.
I am a Barbie girl and Barbie, I don’t blame you for my weight issues or fledging body image. I blame a society who thinks the worth of a person is based on their size not their intellect, their heart or their soul. I think if Barbie had a voice she’d agree. I am learning to love myself and for that I will thank Barbie who was the first to teach me girls can be anything they want to be and are worth something simply for their contributions to the world not for their looks.
So for all you plus size Barbie girls out there, don’t hide in shame! Be Pretty, Plus and Proud!
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