Barbie is one of the most popular toys on the market today, achieving a profit of more than $1.5 billion in 1999, according to the Mattel Website. Average American girls between the ages of 3 and 11 own ten Barbie dolls, which are available in more than 150 countries worldwide. Debates constantly exist as to whether or not Barbie is an asset to today’s youth. Essentially the notion of playing with Barbie is beneficial, but the actual image she portrays is not. Playing Barbie allows girls to create a whole world of fantasy, separate from their real life environment. It can be an escape to a place they have never been to before, or somewhere they go everyday. Barbie opens up young girls minds, increasing their creativity. Nowadays with all the roles Barbie plays and is marketed as, she has the ability to inspire today’s young girls to do or be anything they set their minds to do.
When Barbie was created in the 1950s, women endured a stereotype of domesticity. Men were the ones who worked outside of the home, while the women often seen as the child rearers. Barbie gave girls a whole new outlook on life. Girls could really be more dominant. They could change their image and even work outside the home. Barbie gives girls a chance to create their own style. With the thousands of clothing pieces the doll has available for her uniquely sized figure, girls can put together hundreds of dazzling outfits using their own sense of style. Additionally, girls can play with their hairstyles and professions. I mutilated my dolls into my style of the moment. I cut their hair, redesigned their clothes and, of course, lost all those little plastic high heels they are supposed to prance around the Barbie mansion in, which I also had – you know the huge pink one? Although Barbie does offer young girls the opportunity to gain creativity and inspiration, she is nowhere close to presenting a real life image. Barbie’s measurements are not representative of the most women.
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As children play with Barbie, they can easily become entranced with Barbie’s image and learn to see Barbie as a body image role model. Girls should pride themselves on inner beauty and Barbie does not offer this component to life. Barbie does not tell girls that it is okay to be beautiful without having a size 25 waist. Another key factor in Barbie’s controversy is that until the past year or two ago, there was no other Barbie besides a white, blond haired bombshell, type image available to consumers. Society is not composed of solely white, blond haired similar looking women. Do five-year-old children living in a white suburb and playing Barbie know that? Undoubtedly not. Black Barbie is a fine addition to the Barbie cast of characters, but that is not enough. Barbie needs to come in all sizes and shapes, so that girls can get a real sense of reality and the different types of beautiful women in the world, not just one specific kind.
With the ability to see so many types, girls can then use their creativity and imaginations to help them discover themselves and the world around them, which is the essential factor in having a toy available to children that is truly an educational asset to their lives