A Barbie Girl
Here’s the truth, as a child of the 90s. I loved Barbie. I had a large pink trunk in my room… It was filled with Barbies. I would spend entire summers with my cousin (who lived a few houses down) and my neighborhood girl friends… playing with Barbies. We had all the clothes, all the dolls, we had the houses, the furniture, the cars, the horses, everything you could possibly think of. Between all of us, we possibly had the entire Barbie line up. And we played with those dolls, hard. We even made movies with the dolls! Barbie was possibly the most used toy in my childhood. She was a huge part of my childhood. There’s no denying that.
A quick Google Search got me reminiscing with this post. Come on, that mermaid was badass!
And the Kelly with the toilet? Classic…
Reevaluating Barbie as a Mother
Time goes on and out of that group of friends, I am, so far, the only one with children. And I happen to have 2 daughters. Despite the wonderfully fond memories of playing with Barbie dolls, I had refused to purchase a single Barbie doll for them. I practically banned them from my home. The only ones sneaking into my toy bins were gifted, and even those were few.
You see, as the vail of innocence starts to lift. You begin to look at your childhood in new light. You look at your toys and pastimes from the perspective of an adult. When the time comes and you have your own children to raise and mold, you wonder what things are best not to be repeated.
The classic Barbie doll was not the ideal toy I wanted for my daughters. Not only has her face been recently plastered with excessive make up and ever skimpier out fits (a doll trend I will never understand). But the doll itself brought many questions.
Barbie had become unanimous with the “ideal figure” for women and the impossible beauty standards girls are being raised with. Barbie was tall, with extra long legs, has perky breast, a tiny waste, impossibly tiny feet which are shaped for only healed shoes, she even has perfect abs, completely with slight muscle definition.
That Time Barbie Looked Different
Needless to say that critical eyes saw only one thing. A doll that was shattering self esteem and fueling self questioning, doubt and shame for young girls. Not only that, but the lack in of ethnic diversity was also blatant. As a girl growing up in Puerto Rico, I can assure you, no one I knew looked remotely like the classic white, blue eyed, blond Barbie. I remember when a new line of Barbie, featuring a brunette and a black doll with an afro came out. I wanted the doll with the afro. I remember getting some odd looks at my request, sparking a deep introspection on racism when I later looked back upon those reactions. But regrdless, I was gifted the black doll, and I thought she was the most beautiful doll in my collection. I’m not entirely certain why I felt this way. After all I was tan, but not black, I had messy somewhat curly hair, but not an afro. So why the sense of joy and connection with this doll?
She was different. Even my young eyes could see it. She was nothing like all the other dolls I had seen before. She wasn’t an after thought type doll. She was well designed, with super cute clothes and accessories. She didn’t feel like “just Barbie’s friend” but a really cool individual in it of herself. After a frustrating search online, I finally found the doll…
Her name was Nichelle, and the was a Generation Girl.
Anyone Remember this?
Or maybe this?
It was 1999 and I was 11 years old… This would be the last time “doll play” would really be a thing and this doll was certainly one of the last “toys” I would as my parents for.
Come on… She’s amazing! Look at that face!!
A Little Sprinkled on Ethnic Diversity Isn’t Enough
But after I “grew up” and left all my toys behind, a deep sense of frustration with Barbie took hold. I resented them. The representation of the female body was simply too distorted for me to tolerate and the limited diversity in general was annoying at best. That frustration grew into rejection, and as my oldest daughter became more ready for Barbie dolls I found myself strongly avoiding them regardless.
Then this commercial came out…
Sure… It was a great sentiment. And I felt good watching it and seeing where the company was trying to go. But it wasn’t enough for me. It was still the same doll, pushing the same distorted female body. I shrugged it off as marketing and moved along.
Was Barbie in Mid Transformation?
One day… I was browsing the doll isle and one particular face caught my eye. I had never seen this Barbie Doll before… But this was in fact, Nikki, Barbie’s Official Black Friend. Her face mold had been updated in 2010. While the doll has obviously been in circulation for a while it wasn’t until recently that I have seen her popping up… And to my great surprise, I immediately grabbed her and payed for my first Barbie doll. Once again, I couldn’t resist the new (to me), unique, and authentic looking face mold.
So yes, yes I know, this doll is old news to pretty much everyone except me (2010? that’s… 6 years now.. WOW) But it did strike me as an effort to offer some variety in the face of Barbie and not just some “special collection” but its main line.
Barbie Finally Evolves
But nothing could bring me so much excitement as this week’s announcement of the NEW Barbies! Which are already available for purchase. I won’t lie. I saw this video and I could hardly believe it.
Here she is, the long awaited REALISTIC LOOKING Barbie. The classic doll line is finally expanding to include more than one body type and jumping on the body positive bandwagon. And while the cynics will point out that they “had no other option” I don’t see any other mayor companies selling Curvy dolls.
I would love to see the original Barbie doll adapted to more modern times, maybe re examine those proportions just a tag, huh? But in the mean time, I’m celebrating the new dolls.
So cheers, Barbie! You’ve earned a place in my shopping cart. And just in time as my oldest is about the turn 5, and she really does enjoy the 12inch doll size. Petite Barbie?! Oh yesssss…
Introducing the new Barbie Fashionistas Line! Now available in Curvy, Petite, Tall & Original. Order Yours Now Exclusively through Mattel!
Hope you enjoyed reading!