Much is being made about Doll Number 10 from the Barbie Basics™ Collection. The news media is having a field day; some mothers are “outraged” and want the dolls pulled from store shelves. The cause of all this hoopla is Barbie’s apparent breast augmentation that is quite prominently displayed in a low-cut little black dress designed by Bill Greening. The doll, which sells for $19.95 on Barbie Collector.com, and in various retail outlets including Target, is aimed towards the adult collector. (It says so on the website. Check it out for yourself.)
Barbie has been both lauded and maligned as a role model for young girls. On the one hand, she’s a college graduate who’s had a myriad of great jobs including veterinarian, astronaut, gymnast and teacher. On the other hand, she’s, well, she’s a materialistic, superficial, flighty slut. Although she’s married Ken at least a dozen times - and I know people who have the wedding gowns to prove it - she dresses provocatively, doesn’t wear a bra and flaunts her impossible assets every chance she gets. And now, Barbie Doll Number 10 from the Barbie Basics Collection shows up sporting a low cut dress and a bad boob job.
Since Barbie emerged on the scene as a teenage fashion model way back in the late 1950s, there have been those who wouldn’t allow their little girls to play with her. (Thank goodness my mom was not one of them.) “She’s going to give girls an unrealistic sense of women’s bodies and make them feel insecure and lacking,” is the argument.
I disagree. I have not met one little girl who’s wanted to grow up to look like Barbie. (Well, there is that crazy woman who’s had something like 200 cosmetic surgery procedures to look like Barbie. She doesn’t. She just looks like a crazy woman.)
I played with Barbie as a little girl. And for those of you who know me, it may or may not surprise you that my Barbie was a Playboy model and a neurosurgeon. She was one busy lady! My daughters played with Barbie as little girls. They also played with Talking Big Bird. But, as I recall, they never felt bad about the fact that they didn’t have yellow feathers, orange feet and a long beak - anymore than they (or I) bemoaned our very human and less than Barbie-proportioned bodies.
Barbie is a doll. No more, no less. Can girls’ lack of self-confidence be blamed on her? I think that’s a tough argument to make. I daresay that when little girls are handed a Barbie for the first time, they know she’s nothing more than plastic, in the same way they know a baby doll is not a real baby.
As long as there is Barbie - and I hope that’s forever - there will be those who think she’s a dangerous influence on our young girls. Barbie is not the cause of low-self esteem among young girls. To find out what is, look in the mirror. How many times have you complained about your imperfect body, aging skin, fat rear end? How many times have you complained aloud - in front of your daughter? How many times have you told your daughter that she’s smart and beautiful - and in that order? “Beauty fades; smart is forever. You’re both,” are the words my girls heard on a daily basis.
The solution to the problem is simple: If you don’t want your daughter playing with Barbie, don’t buy one for her. But don’t cop out and blame girls’ lack of self-esteem on a molded piece of plastic. Instead of getting riled about Barbie and her boobs, celebrate your daughter’s unique wonderfulness and remind her every day of how special she is. That way, when she does bring home an even bigger-breasted-than-normal-Barbie, she’ll recognize it for what it is - a toy doll that’s lots of fun to dress.