Body Image and Barbie: Bye Bye, Barbie

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Dear Barbie,

Today I’m officially saying goodbye.  I haven’t actually played with you in decades, but nevertheless I feel I need to write you a formal goodbye letter.  I know you’re wondering why I decided to take such a drastic measure.  I hope this letter explains my concerns. I used to love and admire you, but in the past several years I’ve realized our relationship isn’t healthy.

My main concern is that you’re completely unrealistic in your dimensions. Media Awareness Network says, “Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition.” BARBIE™ IN A MERMAID TALE 2 MERLIAH™ Doll - Shop.Mattel.com

 

Barbie, I imagine you’re familiar with the problem of eating disorders in every advanced nation.  Americans, for example, see over 250,000 ads by the time they’re 17.  Most of them show ultra thin models, which tell girls and women, “To be thin is beautiful, and beauty is almost everything.”

The majority of American girls have played with Barbies fairly often , and this reinforces that thinness is next to godliness.  Yet your unrealistic body type pushes the envelope further, making girls feel less beautiful if they don’t have large chests.  This grieves my heart.  Frankly, Barbie, it makes me angry.  I know you’ve made some improvements over the years, and I’m thankful for your efforts.  For example, your wider waistline is a bit more realistic than the original.  Also I congratulate you on your addition of Barbies of color.  In fact, this architect Barbie helps girls to believe they can chase and pursue their passions.  I believe if we don’t pursue our passions, we wilt and die from the inside out.  So the architect Barbie offers them a great taste of hope.

BARBIE® I CAN BE...™ Architect Doll - Shop.Mattel.comThose are great steps in the right directions.  Even so, Barbie, you’ve had almost 52 years to get it right.  Enough is enough.

So I’m writing to say goodbye, and I’m going to encourage people to stop buying you.  I hope Mattel or another manufacturer designs and sells a doll that is similar, yet has realistic proportions.  I hope you’ll consider resigning if you continue to resist necessary changes.  I wish you the best.

Sincerely,

Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC

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“Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”  I Samuel 16:7

 

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