Barbie: Inspiration or oppression?

deccan chronicle

Lifestyle, Health and Wellbeing

The article focuses on the issues that create a notion for Barbie being perfection goals.

Recently Barbie has launched a doll inspired by Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka bringing a new list of 20 inspiring women. (Photo: Pixabay)

Barbie celebrated its 60 years this month. ‘Barbie’ is every girl's dream toy which is manufactured by Mattel, Inc. She is considered as an influencer and an inspiration to the young girls who grew up playing them.

The original concept of Barbie was to empower women and exhibit the idea of a working woman and that a girl is not only a homemaker. However, an article by the ‘The Conversation’ has forced us to ponder on a crucial issue i.e. is Barbie really a subject of inspiration or oppression?

The article has shown a side which was never been addressed. The role of the doll focuses on the imagination of the Barbie being all grown up, with flawless beauty and hair goals, endless wardrobe and perfect body and love(Ken). This has affected the mental and physical health of young minds.

In a study in the 1930s, it was seen that young black children would choose to play with a white doll over black one.  The ‘white’ is considered prettier and creates a sense of racism. Similarly, Barbie’s unrealistic body notion (having perfect, slim, toned body) left a potential effect on the children.

A 2006 research conducted in UK shows girls of age group from five to seven had low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction issues who played with Barbie or read books with her images as compared to Emme dolls.

It is seen that Barbie’s original proportion made her Body Mass Index (BMI) so low that if she was human it would be unlikely to menstruate. With changing times and growing knowledge of body awareness and self-love, Barbie had seen a fall in their sale.

In 2016, Mattel then launched its new collection that celebrated all body types and sizes. There was a serious criticism on the name of the collection ‘curvy’ Barbie. This new version was with different skin tones, hair types and wider hips and thighs.

But Barbie is not only about the body. Barbie was about women empowerment and Barbie is now seen in more than 200 career options. Initially, it drew criticism over stereotyping women with the colour pink.

Later, Mattel launched a pilot with decent uniform and nice male steward. Recently Barbie has launched a doll inspired by Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka bringing a new list of 20 inspiring women.

But now when Barbie is 60, she may be set to create another notion in women’s mind an aesthetic ageing pressure. The conversation looks out for more diverse changes and wishes 60 years of happiness to the 20 year looking doll.