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Barbie tackles women’s body issues

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

Before iPads and television there were teddies, dolls and toys. The classic Barbie has become popular again and whether it’s a needed economic boom for Mattel’s business or a genuine sign of female body confidence, Barbie is in fashion again.

When I think of Barbie I think about the unrealistic beauty standards and the effect on young girls. I also think of the inspiration. Arguably the plastic icon is a positive role model who celebrates femininity and the new Barbie is breaking down society’s’ stereotypes of what an ideal woman should look like.

The classic doll has gone through an image overhaul and her changing face is improving beauty standards by updating them and giving the right message from a young age. Barbie has literally been re-shaped and the toy company Mattel has revealed a new range, including three body types – petite, tall and curvy – as well as seven different skin tones and 24 hair-styles. The notorious thigh gap has disappeared, replaced with solid limbs and a proportional waist.

From tall Barbie’s red afro and tiny Barbie’s luscious brown locks, she is now more diverse and fashionable, because let’s face it, who wants to look the same anyway? The fresh, free spirit is giving young girls confidence and inspiring them to believe they can do anything.

Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice-president and Barbie’s global general manager, said: “We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them … We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty.”

Since the 1950s when Barbie was first launched in the States, she has built a multimillion-dollar empire. Over a billion of the dolls have been sold worldwide in more than 150 countries so it only makes sense that the blond bombshell should be more culturally diverse.

Mattel claimed the new creation appealed to ‘millennial moms’ this suggests that society is sick of the outdated beauty standards and that difference not conformity should be celebrated.

Girls need to realise from a young age that beauty standards promoted in the media are unrealistic and that pressure caused on the teenage generation today needs to end. By creating the range of multicultural and realistic dolls the new Barbie will break down social pressures from an early age of how an ideal woman should look, creating a happier and healthier generation of young people.

A Nigerian medical scientist customised her Barbie creating ‘Hijarbie’, a hijab-wearing Muslim Barbie. The demand for more multi-cultural Barbies is on the rise and the famous plastic face has a new purpose. Young girls everywhere will be encouraged to express individuality and cultural differences.

The question is, when do we get a curvy Ken? It is all well and good disintegrating female body issues but male stereotypes and standards are just as unrealistic as women’s and also need to be tackled.

-- Izzy King is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds


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