Barbie Doll Diversity: Why Representation Matters
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Barbie Doll Diversity: Why Representation Matters

Multimillion-dollar toy manufacturing company Mattel has just revealed three new body types for Barbies. Sure, it may just be a doll, but why is this so important?

1549
Barbie Doll Diversity: Why Representation Matters
www.usatoday.com

Just when we thought we couldn't take another article about the tragic bombing of a city across the planet or a group of men trying to take away our birth control, a glimmer of light appeared in the form of a hopeful headline: "Barbie Adds Curvy and Tall to Body Shapes." The piece in the New York Times written by Rachel Abrams describes Mattel's revolutionary change to the types of Barbie dolls they produce. Dolls will be sold with various skin tones, eye colors, and hairstyles.

Even more significant is the change they'll be making to the dolls' body shapes, since the company has always received criticism for perpetuating unrealistic body types. Now, in addition to the traditional Barbie that lacked variation, the dolls will be sold with an option of body types: petite, tall, and curvy. This sounds incredible, and so many people are celebrating the new changes, but what is it about this new diverse selection of Barbie dolls that's so amazing? Why does this matter?

Because now Barbie dolls hold a great power: representation. This can be tricky for a lot of us to appreciate, but being represented through popular toys and mass media, it can be life-changing. When I was a little girl, I was represented everywhere I looked. I was a modern-day Shirley Temple: white, thin, and blonde. I watched Disney's "Cinderella" and saw myself as a princess, I saw girls that looked just like me on magazine covers and cereal boxes, and my Barbie dolls reflected how I hoped to look one day.

It wasn't just a matter of recognizing my curls and pale complexion; it was recognizing the countless possibilities of the person I could become when I was older. Psychologically, this sense of future self is a critical idea for a child to develop. It gives them motivation, hope, and a sense of worth, all of which children start to develop as young as two or three.

But all the while as I dreamt the days away, thinking of how I could be a doctor or a singer one day, just like Barbie, millions of little girls had a different experience. For a child who was non-white, overweight, or just different-looking from the Barbie dolls on the shelves of Toys R Us, they didn't see themselves when they played.

This may seem silly because of course these children still enjoyed their toys, movies, and magazines, but this lack of representation sets up an unconscious divide in society. One which celebrates whiteness, blonde hair, and slim figures as superior. If a child never sees someone like them in the media or on their toys being depicted as beautiful or smart or talented, then how're they supposed to develop a healthy sense of self?

Of course we've made great strides as a society, Disney and many branches of media are starting to embrace body positivity and normalize people of color. We have to remember that being a diverse society is what's normal. Walk two blocks down a sidewalk in midtown Manhattan, and everyone you see is not going to be white, skinny, and blonde. So why should we represent our society as such through toys, movies, and magazines?

The very simple act of a child seeing a superhero or a princess or a scientist on the TV and thinking, "They look like me!" will make a world of a difference to a child's sense of self. Mattel is taking a step in the right direction, and it's important for us as a people to celebrate this new representation, and comprehend its importance.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

I just recently got engaged and planning a wedding during a pandemic is actually kind of a nightmare.

A lot of venues are taken for 2021 because of corona brides and grooms who have had to reschedule their weddings and the same goes for other vendors and literally everything else.

Keep Reading... Show less

While promoting her most recent movie, "Work It," Sabrina Carpenter has divulged some of her favorite beauty products to interviewers.

Keep Reading... Show less

When I say we can't stop thinking about the relationship advice Miley Cyrus dropped on "Call Her Daddy" today, I mean it literally.

Her truth bombs hit me (and most who listened) like a wrecking ball and coupled with the release of her new song "Midnight Sky," we're going to need some time to process the greatness. In case you haven't listened yet (what are you waiting for?), here are 10 relationship tips Miley shared that we should all live by for the rest of time.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Founders Of Color: Rec Room's Dre Taylor On What Blackness Can Look Like And Not Working For Free

"It mattered to me that when we were depicting racial diversity for Rec Room, we showed the broad spectrum of what Blackness can look like."

Rec Room

The world of sustainable fashion is inundated with marketing gimmicks, false advertising, and large corporations cutting corners — Rec Room is the pure antithesis of that.

Keep Reading... Show less
FOX

"New Girl" is one of the best sitcoms of all time. Honestly, it is so much fun to watch, so much fun to relate to, just all around a great show.

Not only is a great show, it has so many different great settings, obviously including the loft. If you live by Nick Miller quotes and desperately tried to learn how to play "True American," you need to buy these things because you are a true "New Girl" fan.

Keep Reading... Show less

You know those items you've been pinning to your Home board on Pinterest for [insert amount of time]? Well, it's officially the moment to turn that wishlist into a married life reality, and it's going to be SO fun.

But, before you get to shopping and adding things to your upgraded bridal wishlist (sorry, Pinterest, it was lovely while it lasted), you'll first want to decide where you want to open your registry (or registries, if you want options). Here are 17 of the best websites and stores to consider saying "I do" to for your wedding registry, to have and to hold for as long as people are buying you wedding gifts.

Keep Reading... Show less

If you've ever been in the dating game, or currently are, chances are you've had a date gone wrong. These are often times super embarrassing, but they are always funny to look back on.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 At-Home Therapy Tips You Need, No Matter What Your Therapy Routine Is

Whether you're in a Zoom session or live-chatting, make sure your home therapy space is good to go.

No matter what stigmas you held about therapy before this year, I'm sure 2020 has affirmed that we could ALL use a nice long therapy session. Between wildfires that took over an entire continent, a global health crisis, and what's sure to be one giant circus of an election in the United States, we need help and we need it now.

The fact of the matter is, therapy has been a helpful, valid resource long before the world decided to become one giant dumpster fire. Having a safe space to discuss what's going on in your life, worries you have, and struggles you're facing has become a very normal thing for individuals' mental health.

Keep Reading... Show less

Dunkin' just announced that they'll be releasing their fall menu earlier than ever — set to debut on August 19 — and that it'll include new menu options this season, including a new signature pumpkin spice latte. Let me just say, Starbucks has some fall-menu competition now.

Keep Reading... Show less

When it comes to wedding planning, each and every detail is customized to the style of the couple. From venue and decorations to food and beverages, nothing gets overlooked — whether your wedding is big, small, or virtual.

The same thing goes for invites, which are getting more and more beautiful every wedding season. If you're looking to customize your wedding invitations, the options are endless... you can add pictures if you wish, opt for fancy artwork, or keep it simple with just text).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments