Rose DesRochers – World Outside my Window

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Rose DesRochers – World Outside my Window

Burn the Barbie

August 8th, 2010 by Rose DesRochers · 9 Comments

What message is Barbie sending?

My son wants to have a Barbie-Q. He wants to burn all the barbies. “Barbie is too skinny to be a role model. She isn’t ideal,” said my son.

The Pressure to be thin starts young

Girls compare themselves to Barbie from a young age, and it doesn’t stop as they grow into womanhood. For many, Barbie represents what a real woman should look like. Society defines Barbie’s body as perfect. But, Barbie is far from perfect. In truth Barbie represents a false sense of beauty.

If Barbie were a real woman, standing here before us know she’d measure 36-18-33, stand 5ft 9in and weigh 7st 12lb – 35lbs, underweight for a woman that height says Julie Bindel. (Julie Bingel is an English writer, feminist and co-founder of the group Justice For Women.)

But that doesn’t stop women from wanting to look like Barbie.

 What Message is Barbie Sending

One woman, Cindy Jackson was so influenced by Barbie that she spent $100,000 on plastic surgery in her ambition to become the ideal woman – a living barbie doll. (

In 1965, Mattel introduced “Slumber Party Barbie,” which came complete with a toy scale that read 110 pounds. In case little girls wanted to know how to reach that weight, Barbie came with a book titled “How to Lose Weight.”

Mattel has since revamped Barbie, but she is still too thin. According to 2006 research done by two British Universities, studies found that Barbie dolls contribute to insecurity and eating disorders later in life.

Barbie is not the only doll to promote unhealthy body image.

Bratz dolls

“The Bratz are highly sexualised and they promote an impossible anorexic body image to very young girls,” said Susan Linn, psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Girls as young as five have expressed fears of getting fat. Eighty percent of 10-year-old girls have dieted.

It doesn’t stop at barbie and bratz dolls though.

A study that analyzed Saturday morning toy commercials found that 50% of the commercials aimed at girls spoke about physical attractiveness.

Girls ages 11 to 17 wish to be thinner.

As a little girl matures and becomes a teen, she logs onto the “American Eagle Outfitters” website where she will see a model wearing super vintage wash skinny jeans. She will then be programmed a little more to believe that according to society standards physically attractive” and “sexually desirable” means that one must be a size 3 or below to look good, because advertisements emphasize thinness as a standard for female beauty.

The average fashion model is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 117 pounds.

The average Canadian woman is 5′ 3 and weighs 153 pounds while the average American woman is 5′ 3 and weighs 168 lbs.
This is overweight by society’s standards.

Ralph Lauren’s company retouched a models photo to the point that her body looked like a near-death Bratz doll. They pulled the ad and apologized. That same model, Filippa Hamilton was later fired for being over weight. She is 5’10”, 120 lbs., and a size 4.

The tacky Hooters restaurant chain fires waitresses that are too fat. One waitress fired was 5-foot, 8-inch, 132 pound. That is not overweight by any means.

What about young men?

Many males are becoming insecure about their physical appearance. My son included. He is five months shy of turning 17. My son is 5’10 and weighs 136 lbs.

Media would have young men believe that the ideal man is thin, yet muscular with a washboard stomach. He is physically strong and considered to be perfectly fit.

We frequently compare our bodies to those we see around us and
when we woman and men don’t fit the mold of the ideal man or woman, we purchase the products that advertisements are selling in the mere hope that we will look like what is perceived to be ideal.

What steps can be taken?

Media needs to introduce models of different shapes, sizes, and races to their advertisement.

Mattel needs to “revamp Barbie’s image” focusing on various weight classes.

By promoting real beauty, instead of an unrealistic image of what ideal is we will begin to see a change.

Thoughts? What steps do you feel can be taken, and by whom, to change how people perceive themselves?

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Rose wears many hats. She's a wife, mother, respite worker, proud shih-tzu owner, blogger, published poet, freelance writer, as well as the owner and administrator of Today's Writing Community and Blogger Talk Blogging Community. Feel free to contact her with any questions you may have.Rose DesRochers has 1019 post(s) at Rose DesRochers – World Outside My Window

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9 responses so far ↓

  • Mitch
    Wrote: Aug 8, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I think it’s the first time I ever heard of a boy saying he wanted to burn Barbie’s. I’ve known some guys who just did it without saying anything until after they’d done it, though.


    Rose DesRochers Reply:

    He and I had a discussion last Christmas. He said that he wouldn’t buy the little girl Iprovide respite to a barbie, because of the whole thing Barbie represents. Yesterday he had a discussion with a female friend who is a very pretty young woman. She’s smart and attractive, but wishes she was thin like Barbie.

    This resulted in ……… Burn the barbies, which I felt would make a great blog topic. Those three words.. Burn the barbie says so much.

    No other thoughts Mitch besides your interest in my son being a boy saying he wanted to burn barbies?

  • Mitch
    Wrote: Aug 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Not really. I’ve never had any thoughts about Barbie. I’m an only child, a male, and my dad was a military man who said that I couldn’t have a G.I. Joe or anything close except for those little green army men because “my son is not getting any dolls.” And that was that. lol


    Rose DesRochers Reply:

    Aww Mitch, but this post goes deeper than Barbie and G.I Joe, but thank you for commenting just the same. 🙂

  • LisaF
    Wrote: Aug 8, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    This is such a sticky subject. I 100% agree most pf our culture does nothing to promote a healthy body image for young girls. Despite this, I believe both my daughters (25 and 22) have developed a good sense of worth and self-esteem about themselves.

    Yes, I admit, they did have Barbies when they were young. They did collect them and we have cases of outfits and accessories to show for it. Both went through their preteen/teen years with the usual angst. The difference is both of them were involved in activities that bolstered self-confidence. Activities such as athletics and youth groups that promoted skills over appearance.

    Burn Barbie? I’m not sure I agree. Despite her proportions, it is possible to move past all the superficial expectations. Daughters (and sons) need parents and other adults to ground them and emphasize what true beauty really looks like. Unfortunately, high school is rarely conducive to this type of support.

    It took a while for my girls to understand this when they were teenagers. But now, they know how to be a confident, independent woman who can stand on her own merits.


    Rose DesRochers Reply:

    I don’t think we need to burn barbies either. Like I said, I think Mattel’s needs to “revamp Barbie’s image” focusing on various weight classes.

    Like you pointed out it is key that parents emphasize that people come in all shapes and sizes and barbie is only a toy not what real women look like.

  • Margaret
    Wrote: Aug 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Barbie isn’t just thin, she has freakish proportions. I’ve never admired her figure at all, but I know I’m not normal in that regard. Children do get all kinds of unhealthy messages about weight and body shape–from both perspectives. (too thin, too fat, not busty enough, muscular enough, etc…)


    Rose DesRochers Reply:

    “Barbie isn’t just thin, she has freakish proportions.” True Margaret! Very true! lol

    As a young girl I wanted to be like Wonder Woman. She was 122-130 lbs and 5’9.

  • Colleen
    Wrote: Aug 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    We have done a fairly decent job a encouraging our kids (we have 5) to have strong characters, while avoiding encouragement that would have them focus on the external. Additionally, we have avoided things like Barbie or GI Joe, and also avoided shows that stereotype kids as being perfect on the outside. So far so good. Our oldest two are in college and seem to have a good self image.