Previously, I wrote on about Barbie's latest transformation. The new range includes three new body types, seven skin tones, and 24 new hairstyles, all of which are meant for Barbie to remain with the times, if you will. With celebrities and models posting untouched images of themselves on social media and the general public becoming more aware of how Photoshop and more are detrimental to everyone, especially the younger generation, it makes sense that Mattel is finally taking responsibility for their actions.
President and chief operating of Mattel, Richard Dickson, says:
"For more than 55 years, Barbie has been a global, cultural icon and a source of inspiration and imagination to millions of girls around the world. Barbie reflects the world see around them. Her ability to evolve and grow with the times, while staying true to her spirit, is central to why Barbie is the number one fashion doll in the world."
I grew up with Barbies. I combed each doll's hair, designing and dressing them up as I played with them throughout the duration of my childhood. I had a variety of both light- and dark-skinned Barbies, but I never owned an Asian one. When I did, they were the rip-off versions. Regardless, even those resembled their whiter counterparts, and I often wondered if there will be one that looked like me.
As I got older, I eventually put aside my cherished Barbies to focus on school and homework like many adolescents do. However, Barbie still made an impact on my life. I won't say that the dolls were the exact reason why I had numerous body issues, ranging from anorexia to a lifelong struggle with accepting myself as who I am (I'm getting better), but I feel like it did play a role. With Barbie's 36 inch chest, 18 inch waist, and a towering height of 5'9", she radiated perfection; she was secretly the girl I wanted to be. And I'm not alone.
According to a 2006 study held at the University of Sussex, girls ages five to eight were exposed to images of Barbie versus Emme -- a doll endorsed by the American Dietetic Association to promote positive body image. The results were unsurprisingly surprising: the girls who were exposed to Barbie reported lower body esteem and a greater desire to be thin. The study concluded: "Early exposure to dolls epitomizing an unrealistically thin body ideal may damage girls' body image, which would contribute to an increased risk of disordered eating and weight cycling."
In July 2015, it was reported that children in the UK were largely dissatisfied with their bodies and that nearly 40% of 14-year-old females admitted to dieting.
I've had my fair share of girls as young as four tell me that they hate their bodies, and that, to me, is one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever heard a child say; no child should ever have to feel that way, especially at that age. It's safe to say that Barbie does, indeed, impact children across the globe. Personally, I'm happy that Mattel is taking a step in a better direction; the world is full of a variety of people, and that should be celebrated.