If there’s one toy that’s received a lot of criticism over the years, it’s certainly Barbie, and in our video we explore some of the arguments behind that viewpoint with 10 reasons why the Barbie doll is a bad role model for girls. From her unrealistic figure to the lack of diversity, there are plenty of controversial things about the Barbie doll.
It’s said that if Barbie were a real human, she’d have to walk on all fours because her proportions are all out. When you discover the human-size dimensions of a Barbie doll, you’ll be shocked at just how different she is to the average American woman. This unrealistic body image is the cause of a lot of the criticism about the doll, with claims that Barbie creates body dissatisfaction in young girls. In fact, an academic study found that young girls exposed to the Barbie doll are more likely to have some pretty negative thoughts about themselves in comparison to girls who have been exposed to a larger size doll or no doll at all. This leads to the argument that Barbie dolls can play a part in eating disorders.
Given the young age of the girls playing with Barbies, it also disturbs a lot of people that the doll is so sexualized. And this was only made worse when Barbie appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Many felt uncomfortable that a doll designed for children was placed in a context that’s usually reserved for men ogling scantily clad models.
It’s not just how Barbie looks that makes her a bad role model for girls, it’s also what she says. In a talking version of the doll, her comment that “math class is tough” was so controversial Mattel actually removed it from subsequent versions of the doll. It was also a controversial move for Mattel to strike a deal with Girl Scouts USA to bring Barbie into their realm. And once you see how Mexico Barbie was dressed, you’ll understand why so many found it offensively stereotypical and not a good way to present other cultures to children. Plenty also believe that Mattel’s attempts to make the Barbie doll more diverse, by offering more skin tones and body types, have actually only served to highlight just how limited the doll’s look is.