Thoughts on Barbie?

Updated on October 01, 2013
T.S. asks from Orinda, CA
16 answers

I came across a great essay about Barbie, and I was moved to share it here (I'll include the link in the SWH.) I am always a bit defensive when it comes to Barbie because of my own fond memories of playing with her, and her many friends and accessories :-) I think this woman's essay hits the nail on the head, at least for me (especially the part about Ken being irrelevant LOL!)
There's so much negativity surrounding her unrealistic looks/body, but to me it's no different than little boys (and many girls) who enjoy playing with superheroes and action figures who also have unrealistic bodies and abilities.
After all, a big part of imaginative play is fantasy, not reality, don't you think?
ETA: B your point about boobs and butt kind of makes MY point, Barbie is an adult doll, and has an adult body, just like action figures have well developed adult male bodies. It's girls and boys playing "grown up" something kids have been doing long before the invention of modern toys :-)

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answers from San Francisco on

Barbie was one of the things I changed my tough stance on after I had kids. And cheerleading. :) I was never into Barbie or any dolls as a kid -- I was a "tomboy." But my daughter was a girly girl, and she liked Barbie so I bought her Barbies. I learned to lighten up on many of my rigid credos. It's just a doll.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Barbie is a toy. She isn't a real person. She isn't a role model. She's a toy.

I never cared for playing with Barbie or any other dolls as a kid - I would much rather be up a tree, on a bicycle, swinging a bat.

The author of the article has a career she likes. That's great. When you can get paid to do what you love to do, even if other people think it's fluffy, that rocks.

I wouldn't give the credit for my success to a toy. But maybe that's just me.

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answers from Danville on

I am not sure how to respond to the article.

I am glad, I suppose, that the author feels validated by clothes...and that clothes boost confidence for her...

I guess, for ME...I was always wondering why 'ken' (and GI Joe for that matter) had no genitalia AT ALL!

That STILL perplexes

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Barbie is incredibly like the nude silhouette you sometimes see on 18 wheeler mud flaps.
Granted Mudflap Girl is a big part of SOMEONE'S fantasy but generally speaking I don't think big boobs and butt should be a major feature of toys for kids.
Action figures are more about what they can do (the abilities) and less about how they look (the fashion accessories).

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I loved Barbie when I was a kid. The sexuality/body image issues never even occurred to me, until I was grown up and people were throwing fits over it.

She is just a doll... She only has as much power as your imagination gives her.

Heck, when it was young, my grandma taught me to sew by helping me make Barbie clothes. I was raised Mormon, and modesty is a huge deal in that religion... Since she doesn't have many clothes that fit the bill, we just made our own. (Far cheaper than buying hem, too!)

Also, I used to cut the hair of some of them short to make boy dolls. (I got a LOT of hand me down Barbies, but had no Kens.) It didn't matter at all that Barbies boyfriend had boobies to me! Lol.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

When I was a kid I had no concept of what a woman's hip or breast size was supposed to be. I played with all the neighborhood girls every day every free minute. We'd trade clothes, get home made barbie clothes for Christmas and birthdays, we'd play with Skipper, Ken, and anyone else who we had.

I truly think it's adults who have the problems with Barbie. She's a wonderful toy for a girl and they don't have any idea what a mom might have against them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I played with Barbie. Kids love her. Unrealistic body? Meaning that a lot of little girls are already fat? I think it's good for them, to see a thin doll. This country has a huge obesity problem. The last thing we need are fat Barbie dolls, lol. Is that what critics want?

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I played with barbies a lot too, growing up. My immediate issue is with all the immodest clothes that barbie wears. That is why I probably won't buy one for my daughter unless I can find a modestly dressed one. As to barbie's body, I never really thought about it when I was growing up. I never thought that I needed to look like barbie, or even that anyone did or should look like barbie. It was just kind of a doll, I never made body comparisons to it. But, today's world is a lot more harsh than it was, even in the 80s. In the environment for girl's today, it might be another factor to make girls feel bad about themselves. I guess it depends what else they are exposed to. If they have a constant diet or MTV and Cosmo magazine, etc, Barbie probably won't help the situation. If they are kept sheltered from those things, as I believe young girls should be, and they have good friends that are body positive, then Barbie won't do any harm. So what are the other factor's in a girl's life is the important question, I think.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I have mixed feelings about Barbie. Read some of the blogs on the Pigtail Pals and Ballcap Buddies web site. I don't always agree with Melissa on everything she writes, but she has opened my eyes to a lot of things and changed my thinking about things. I don't think it is so much that Barbie is bad, but that our society has changed so much and so many of the old toys we grew up with are becoming more sexualized. Not just Barbie but also Strawberry Shortcake, Tinkerbell, My Little Pony, etc. And it's the same for a lot of "boys' toys" like the super heroes and Star Wars characters.

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answers from New York on

I loved that article!

I totally played with Barbie and friends for many years. I agree with those below who said as a kid I never really thought about her proportions. I just liked all the clothes and accessories (I had the camper van back in the 70s, but boy did I want the townhouse with the little elevator!).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I loved Barbie growing up and have no problem with girls playing with them.

BUT that said, she is nowhere near like an adult female in proportion.
Have you seen the artist rendition of a lifesize Barbie with the same proportions as the doll? Scarry and grotesque!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

heh, i'm with catwalk, the smooth groins always seemed a little weird!
i dunno. yes, she's right that all the squawking and puffing about barbie is a little over the top. it's not the end of the world if a toy isn't 'realistic.'
but barbie was SUCH an icon for so many generations. i don't think it's a bad thing that women finally stood up and said 'yo! y'all know we don't look like that, right????' the pressure to be a barbie was very, very prevalent not so very long ago, even if it was before most of the young mamas here were growing up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

What a great article! I love it. I agree with you - for me, Barbie gave me an avenue to imagine owning a great car, a beautiful home, having a fabulous career (heck, SEVERAL fabulous careers!), lots of well-dressed friends with similarly fabulous careers... for a girl who grew up in a lower-middle class home, that was great imaginative play. I certainly never felt the need to compare myself to Barbie physically (although I'm 6' tall and blond, with legs up to my chin, so...). Both of my girls have enjoyed playing Barbie with their friends. I feel a little sad that my youngest seems to be growing out of playing with dolls. :(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I loved Barbies as a child and my daughter (she is 6) loves Barbies. She also loves dolls in general. I think it's funny you bring up Ken being irrelevant because my daughter actually wants more Ken dolls. There's such a small selection of Ken dolls.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

"I was a huge tomboy growing up. Like, I had Barbies, but only because my Ninja Turtles needed b******s."

I saw that yesterday and thought it very funny and applicable.

I really did love Barbie. And I *DO* think she's a role model. She has the most well rounded resume out there! :-)



answers from Topeka on

My daughters have Barbies, Monster High (the anorexic zombies) and a few fairies mixed in as well (shorter and less, developed). The fact that they are allowed to play with these dolls does not make me a bad mom. They are DOLLS and the storylines and set-ups are really what is all about. We buy cheap men for them too (the $5 beach bum Kens do nicely). The play is more interesting with more characters. My daughters have no health/body issues and don't care about their scrawny bodies or misshapen proportions except to note that the clothes are not interchangeable.

This is simple. Dolls are fun and allow for a lot of creative play. You can be a feminist and still buy unrealistic-looking dolls for your son or daughter to play with. It is a time for unrealistic things; reality prevails in the end anyway :)

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