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.
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. (cindyjackson.com)
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.
“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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