I was a little combative Friday morning. I didn’t mean to be, but Thursday night I tossed and turned most of the night. Suffice to say that when my kids woke me up? I wasn’t feeling too hot.
So while I slowly woke up,a cup (or two) of coffee in hand, I browsed Facebook. And then I saw this:
You better believe it got my mettle up. Now I’ve seen this picture for while now, especially on Tumblr, but now it’s been popping up on my friends’ Face book walls too. I like the ad, I think it has every right to exist. Frankly, I couldn’t understand what Barbie Inc. had against it. I mean isn’t making this ad go away telling everyone that what the ad is implying is true?
Isn’t the company that made the ad go away saying,”Yes, we personally put an image out there that is both unrealistic and harmful to the psyches of young girls, but we don’t want you to think about that?”
It seemed like it just couldn’t be true so I researched it a little.
It turned out that Barbie Inc. didn’t in fact stop this ad campaign from running. They didn’t ban the ads, they issued The Body Shop a cease and desist order. Dreamtime Drinne talks about this brilliantly on her blog so I’m not going to go over why it’s a little unfair that the recirculation of this ad is basically lying and pissing women off. I won’t go into how I don’t like being sent into a rage over something that isn’t even technically true, especially when I’m too tired to think clearly.
I still think there is a bigger issue here though. Why don’t Ruby type dolls exist in the Barbie universe in the first place?
My daughters have Barbies. We bought our oldest her first Barbie when she was still a toddler and insisted that was the toy she wanted the most. Her playing with the thing consisted of gumming the feet, patting it’s head and rocking it like a baby. I don’t think she was thinking of body image at the time.
But it did bother me that when it came time for to pick a new toy and she still wanted a Barbie, that she gravitated towards the blond Barbies only. I obviously don’t have blond hair,fine whatever…but neither does she.
And even that was okay,I guess. I myself favored red hair growing up, I may have even willed mine to turn red too. Thankfully it didn’t. My complexion and red hair would not have made good combo.
So even when I was unsuccessfully trying push the Theresa dolls, and growing a little tired of seeing an ever increasing half dressed,blond brigade lying all over the house, body image didn’t jump out at me. I was mostly irritated that dolls in different races didn’t factor into our mix.
I think about it more now though. Especially now that I am trying to be more mindful of my eating and wondering why most of my life has been spent either very overweight, verging on anorexia or in a constant up and down state of yo-yo dieting.
I don’t blame Barbie, but I know that when I was young she symbolized everything a girl should want to be. She was kind of boring to me, but I understood that the fact that she was boring to me made me strange. Who among the girls I grew up with didn’t want the penthouse, the corvette, millions of shiny clothes and the perfect boyfriend? It was implied that people who looked like her got to have this lifestyle. (I mean even the pregnant Barbie doll was slim all over except for her round baby carrying tummy!) It’s not realistic. And even though it’s a toy for fantasy play she is representing a human, right? Barbie isn’t an alien from another planet, she’s one of us. Or one of us, but “better”.
I think the company handled this situation the wrong way. What if instead of trying to fight the Body Shop campaign Barbie Inc. had say, taken the opportunity to add a new doll to their line? A doll that didn’t have a “perfect” figure? What if they tried to make at least one of their dolls more representative of regular people for richer imaginative play?
Why does thin have to be the only way we should accept ourselves and others? The thought that any of us have the right to look down on someone based on their weight or their looks is wrong. A company that won’t even think on ways to change this mindset, which they may have had a hand in shaping,even if just a little bit, should rethink their stance.
I’d like to teach my daughters to see the beauty in people of all sizes. I’d like that to not be an uphill battle.