Disclaimer: If you or someone you know has been adversely affected by exposure to Barbie dolls, please do not be offended by this post. I speak from my own limited experience.
I think Barbie gets a bad rap. I know, I know. She is a proportional impossibility, but of all the things in this world bombarding our little girls and causing them to concern themselves with body image at far too young of an age, I really, truly don't think Barbie is at fault any more than I think Cookie Monster is at fault for America's childhood obesity epidemic. How about we look at real people if we must blame someone besides ourselves? Runway models live on peanuts and water and then toss their cookies so they don't gain a single ounce. Hollywood. Let's blame them! That's an easy target.
How about looking closer to home? Pregnant women refer to themselves with terms like "fat" or "disgusting" in front of their young daughters and peers when we all know that a pregnant woman is gorgeous, the way God intended her to be, swelling with the natural beauty of carrying a precious life. This is divine privilege! It is not ugly!
Women, teenagers, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends who wouldn't even tip a scale slightly in the direction of overweight still nit-pick their bodies because they crave perfection or, in some cases, want someone to speak up and affirm that they are not fat every time they say, "I'm so fat." Is this where we can find blame?
Maybe we shouldn't blame anyone. In fact, the word "blame" has been overused just within this blog post, so let's all find another word or another tactic. Could it be that women are just hard on ourselves by nature? Could it be that the moment Eve chose to listen to the serpent, she predisposed all of womanhood to a life of self-critique?
I think yes.
I was never, ever bothered by Barbie's waist size. I played with my Barbies all the time. Loved them, right up until I realized it wasn't so cool anymore, and then I probably loved them. I was 12 and so sad when it was time to give her up.
When my little girl was old enough for her first Barbie doll, I was thrilled. They were easy gifts. If someone asked what to buy her, for a few years, we almost always suggested something to do with Barbie. Barbie is still a pretty good gift for my girl. Barbie is one of those childhood favorite things that I enjoy being able to share with her.
On top of this, have you ever watched a Barbie movie? They're fantastic. I love them. They are filled with great morals, godly character traits (so they wouldn't word it that way, but that is what they are), hard lessons learned, tough ethical situations, and girl affirmations that are an asset to any little girl. They include fairy tales and classic stories with modern twists, and they're almost always accompanied by great music, often classical. Barbie teaches little girls that the they are capable of doing great things. What's not to love?
I personally don't know of any grown woman who was bothered by Barbie's proportions, who ties their low self-esteem and body image issues to a doll they played with when they were 6. My opinion is that it is just plain silly. If you've had body image issues that you think were caused by Barbie, please leave me a comment. I truly, legitimately, want to hear your opinion if that is the case.
I want my girl to grow up and have a healthy, beautiful body and a positive body image. Of course I do, but what I want more is this: for my sweet girl to be so completely and totally in love and absorbed in Jesus that she defines herself only by His holy standard, and that she is completely and totally unaffected by anyone's waistline, real or fiction, because she knows who she is in Christ.
Now that's a goal worth parenting for.