Spoiler alert, this is not a beauty review. Well perhaps it is of a sort but not a product review specifically. Skimming headlines over the last couple of days I could not help but notice that Barbie was everywhere and taking a closer look, boy had she changed. For the greater part of a decade the only time you heard about Barbie was when she was being vilified for the way that she looked but no longer, now that she is a little more ‘average.’ How ironic, we changed the way that she looked to make her more appealing to the masses. Your appearance will be a determining factor of how society, the opposite sex and yourself will perceive your value. Your acceptance and rejection will be predicated on how tall or short you are, how thin or buxom, cheekbones or dimples, blonde or brunette, the list is endless. At the end of the day you will still not be everyone’s cup of tea and frankly, this is the healthier message to send. Rather than teaching young women that their confidence should be influenced by their ability to identify with a plastic doll, instill in them a self-sustaining confidence that comes from within and therefore cannot be influenced by society’s norms.
I grew up with Barbie, I loved my Barbie – at no point in my childhood did Barbie make me feel bad about myself or how I looked. But I also never thought of her as a role-model, she was a fantasy, she lived in a ‘Dream House,’ I would never look like her and it did not matter. I could never be an astronaut, a nurse, a flight attendant and a school teacher all in one day but Barbie could because it was just pretend. Are young women unable to distinguish fantasy from reality anymore? I think not. Adult women who should know the difference are projecting their problems with Barbie onto them. Here is my hang up, this inanimate doll is more influential than the dozens of living, breathing women plastered on billboards, cast in movies and photographed in magazines who are perpetuating society’s unrealistic beauty standards? If we really wanted to change society, wouldn’t we ask our leading ladies to be more average? Shouldn’t we want to see Angels with cellulite and a few stretch marks? Shouldn’t ads that have been retouched be printed with a disclaimer? How far has society fallen when we demonize a doll that is a reflection of our very own definition of beauty? If anyone sees this as a win, I question their grasp on reality. Perhaps when we start commending Beyoncé for looking average in a leotard will I think differently. And by the way, what is so wrong with being stunningly gorgeous? What message are we sending? You are gorgeous, try and be a little more average. It is no longer just acceptable to be average but somehow unacceptable to be beautiful.
Shame on Mattel for caving and only further perpetuating the ideal that your self-worth is based on your appearance. This entire is campaign is tragic and misguided.