This weekend, I watched a story on the new Barbies.
Apparently, you can now get Barbie in sizes other than “bone thin and completely unrealistic.”
According to Mattel, Barbie will now come in four different sizes, seven different skin colors, 20+ different eye and hair colors and, presumably, an inordinately large number of coordinating outfits and shoes, some of which you will even be able to find after you open the package.
There’s Tall Barbie, Petite Barbie and Curvy Barbie to go along with “regular” Barbie – still super model on crack thin with annoyingly perky boobs.
The new dolls are a response to concerns that Barbie promotes an unrealistic body image to girls and add to body issues.
And it only took 60 years – go figure.
As near as I can tell, Curvy Barbie consists of thunder thighs and small boobs. I would put her at about a size 12. Granted, I’m about as fashion conscious as a linebacker for the Houston Oilers, so I wouldn’t take my word for that.
Petite Barbie is just shorter with the same sized boobs and Tall Barbie is just Barbie after a few hours on a Medieval rack.
But the thing that struck me was that after the piece on Barbie was over a Weight Watcher’s commercial came on….starring Oprah.
So, the goddess of the television, whom we’ve all watched struggle with her weight is now hawking Weight Watchers.
What does THAT say to girls about body image?
For most of the women I know, they related to Oprah because she wasn’t perfect. Oprah had curves. Oprah looked good despite her curves. Oprah succeeded in spite of her curves, not due to her lack of them. Oprah was, and still is, funny, savvy, smart and compassionate. No one looks at Oprah and says, “She would get so much farther in life if she’d just drop 10 pounds.”
Trust me, I’ve heard that in my life.
She was perfect because she WASN’T perfect.
And we all related to that.
But now, are we saying “not perfect” isn’t enough?
I know the commercial says we should want to find our “best” us, but damn… isn’t what they’re really saying is that the “you” that you are right now ISN’T your “best” you.
I wonder how that makes women who’ve identified with her for such a long time feel.
About the same time, a friend sent me the daily diet of California juice guru Amanda Chantal Bacon as published in Elle magazine.
Apparently, this female entrepreneur’s diet consists of mostly teas, peppered with the occasional zucchini ribbon, and a bevy of other ingredients of her own discovering like brain dust, vanilla mushroom protein, coryceps and activated cashews.
God knows, nothing is worse than eating those regular old, lazy, inert cashews.
Now, let’s not forget that this Bacon girl, whose name is only slightly ironic given her air-based diet, is the guru to the star whose mere existence makes the rest of us look pallid in comparison – Gwyneth Paltrow.
According to Goop, Paltrow’s … jeez, I don’t even know what the hell to call Goop… other than the only place I know where vapid blog posts about how you, you lowly earthly scum, can’t even boil an egg right, and need this web site to learn how to do it better than Martha Stewart, all while buying $5,000 juicers and $1,800 sweaters to go along with your $400 lip balm.
Anyway, apparently, Goop says G.P. went to Bacon in the throws of a “Brain Fog”, only to have Bacon sell her a full supply of $65 jars of Moon dust and some activated fermented sea vegetables to nibble on. Seems it not only cleared up her brain fog, but helped her extra sensory perception as well.
I swear, I really wish I were making this up.
So, Elle – a magazine whose media packet boasts that the majority of its readers are 18- to 49-year-old women who are, according to Robbie Meyers, editor-in-chief, “the first person to try something and she brings all of her friends along on her fantastic journey” – decides to publish a diet for a woman who believes in Cosmic provisions and preventing your body from having to actually chew anything as disgusting as, well, … food.
How does THIS help women’s body images?
How in the world is a fat doll supposed to help girls with their body image if everything around them says “Hey, it’s not enough to be thin, you need to live off air, and if you’re not skinny, you should be ashamed of yourself no matter how successful you are because it’s not your ‘best’ you”?
Why even worry about putting out a fat doll, at all?
Until everything else changes, nothing Curvy Barbie says to girls is going to make a bit of a difference – except to reinforce for girls who don’t fit into regular Barbie’s image that they’re somehow not as “good” as the original.
When I was a little girl, I had Barbie. I got the airplane for Christmas along with Barbie, Ken and Skipper. And Barbie’s horse. I distinctly remember Barbie pushing the serving cart around the plane while Skipper headed off on the horse to see what was going on with my Star Wars figures.
Barbie looked really pretty in her clothes, when I could get them on her. Although I have to admit she spent a lot of time sitting around looking pretty while I played with my science kit or my Dad’s microscope (with my hand-made slides of squooshed bugs, blood and the occasional booger).
She always smiled politely while Skipper and I battled Darth Vader, or occasionally joined Captain Apollo and Lt. Starbuck in some attempt to outwit and evade the Cylons.
And I’m pretty sure even Skipper wasn’t around the day my friend Claire and I decided that all of the floors in my mom’s house were lava and the ottomans were our only way to get from room to room. Traveling down the stairs and into the hallway to the guest room on that ottoman is an adventure I will never forget.
Yeah…. Sorry Mom.
But still, for YEARS, I struggled with who I was, based on who I was not. I didn’t even LIKE Barbie and I STILL compared myself to her. I had a picture of what I thought were the perfect Barbie-esque thighs hanging next to my full-length mirror in my closet from the time I was in junior high until I graduated high school. As a matter of fact, they are still there. As a swimmer and a curvy girl, I was never going to have that kind of thigh gap. But I still felt like that was what would make me popular/datable/attractive/successful/perfect.
I’m not Barbie. I’m not like the women I see on TV. Hell, I’m not even as skinny as “plus-sized” models!
And that’s okay.
It wasn’t okay for a long, long time. Truth be told, I still have trouble with it sometimes – breaking down in tears because I don’t look like what women who are not the butt of jokes and wisecracks are supposed look like.
I wonder what’s going to happen to those little girls who get curvy Barbie?
Are we still telling them at an early age “You’re just not measuring up, honey.”?
What are we telling girls if on the one hand we’re telling them “Here’s a doll that looks more like you,” and on the other telling them “You know, honey, being a successful multimedia mogul isn’t enough. You have to be thin too?” What are we telling them when we glorify a woman whose whose $700 a day diet has fewer calories than Gandhi lived on?
Why not just tell them it’s okay to be who they are and what they are?
Girls don’t need a doll to tell them they don’t look like other girls in school. Trust me, they know already.
And they don’t need idols telling them you can have everything, but it’s not enough if you’re not thin.
Girls need other women telling them to be who they want and be proud of who they are. And they need guys in their life telling them they like girls with curves too.
Copyright © Liz Carey 2016
Images remain the property of their respective owners.