Mattel Inc. has decided to make Barbie “more youthful and more contemporary.” Her last face lift was in 1977, yet it barely changed Barbie’s figure dimensions. The new Barbie will be less busty, have a larger waist and slimmer hips.
Make her hips slimmer? Barbie needs a bigger butt. And while they’re at it, they should give her some upper arm fat, too, so she no longer looks like a concentration camp victim. And those thighs…puhleeze! They’re nearly as bad as her tendonitis problem (from wearing too many high heels).
With all these physical disabilities, Barbie is still extremely popular. Mattel makes about 44% of its total revenues from Barbie sales, which amount to about $2 billion worldwide. Why is she so popular?
Dolls are traditionally made (by adults) to be crude representations of the human form and are usually sexless figures–with long hair and dresses to denote a female doll or short hair and pants to denote a male doll. A realistic looking adult doll would be too sensual for children, and too disturbing for puritanical parents. Barbie is, of course, a pre-adolescent girl with a cinched waist and impossibly huge breasts (her only adult feature, which may be why it’s so grossly exaggerated). In short, she’s a non-threatening doll for parents to give their daughters.
The problem, of course, is that Barbie gives girls the illusion that she’s an accurate model of an adult woman’s body. Little girls use Barbie to act out the more powerful roles that women have in society (as opposed to little girls), regardless of the fact that women’s roles are still limited. The argument should focus on allowing Barbie to be a little girl (physically) and allowing little girls more power over their lives; however, most progressive women still argue that Barbie should be made a “more realistic” looking adult. This is a too simple solution that will never solve anything.
More women need to break out of their traditional roles in our patriarchal society. Girls need more responsibility and more choices in life. Until then, Barbie will remain their primary role model … with her pouty lips, silicone breasts, and anorexic legs.