I have one distinct memory of playing with Barbie’s, and after interviewing many people on the street I found out it’s not an uncommon one. My friend and I where only 11 years old, as we dressing up our Barbie’s we discussed to great lengths how we wished that we could create a machine that would magically take away all of our fat and make us look as Barbie did.
To our surprise when we grew up we discovered that the wish of many young girls had been granted and there actually was a machine that could remove your fat. ‘Magical’ liposuction as well as many eating disorders, and sever diets were made commonplace by those who wanted to look like those fashion dolls. For all of those who grew up with these ultra thin fashion dolls you know the ingrained exceptions that made you look a little bit more harshly at yourself in the mirror, and I for one am happy to pronounce that I didn’t fulfil my expectations of growing up to look like “Barbie.”
When you look around the doll section it is clear to see that dolls don’t look like anyone you know. The sea of painted faces hides a message for kids in their in their unachievable adult body shapes and ultra glamorous appearances. The message is that this is what a woman is.
The most popular fashion dolls on the market are marketed to young pre-pubescent children who are still developing there sense of self and are vulnerable to body ideals and pressure, which makes it even more inappropriate to portray these unnatural adult bodies through these dolls. Forgetting all of the make up and sexual connotations that come along with the dolls, the body shapes alone are enough to start young girls off on a dangerous path.
Unfortunately children often don’t know that many fashion dolls bodies are physically impossible to obtain, and certainly are not the average. Children trying to reach these representations of the norm are at a very early age set up for a loosing battle, a battle that the cosmetic industry does not hesitate to fuel and profit from.
In most polite conversation it is now considered arrogant to like yourself, or to not join in on the chorus of complaints about ones body. When did all this self-hatred start? Even at 11 I wasn’t entirely comfortable in my body. With all these bombarding cosmetic adds and highly stylized dolls, you have got to wonder what are all these unnatural portrayals of the female figure doing to girls?
During early childhood we are vulnerable to outside influences as our ideas on the world and how they fit into it are still being formed. Unfortunately when children are handed these dolls, which not only give them unrealistic body expectations but also represent only a fraction of the ethnic groups, their ideas about themselves and the world is being shaped. They are being told that this doll represents what you should be and you’re never going to be it.
We were only 11 years old when we thought we were too fat, and if there was ever any chance we could ever look like Barbie we weren’t going to look like it at that age. Yet these where the dolls we were given to play with, and at a young age you cannot help but think this is the image you’re meant to achieve.
As a little girl I sat with my friend, giggling about a magical machine that would help us obtain this seriously skewed body image, as if it was normal. If our children believe that these warped figures are accurate they are going to see themselves though a warped perspective. This is why we have created our Beetle Bottoms dolls, which follow on from the success of our Beetle Bottoms children’s books, to communicate a healthier body image to children.
Our dolls represent real, healthy children and all children, you can order yours here.
Together we can change the expectations of how everyone should look and install a passion for life in children, by showing them it is fantastic to be exactly who they are.