All About Representation: Barbie Takes A Big Leap Forward

When I was younger, I was super into Barbie. I had Barbie dolls, Barbie bags, Barbie clothes, and even a life-sized Barbie doll that I kept in my room and would dress up like a princess (we were best friends). I loved the image and style of Barbie, and her body never really crossed my mind — that is, until my mom gave me one of her old Barbies from the late 1960s. If you thought early 2000s Barbie was small, you have got to look up the olden-days plastic doll. She was tiny. Like, really, really tiny. I could pinch her waist and have only centimeters between my fingers. It was a strange change for me, because I had always seen the Barbie I had as the most beautiful, perfect girl. A smaller, thinner Barbie made me wonder if maybe there were better body types out there. Then, I wondered if maybe I wasn’t thin enough if I was only as thin as 2000s Barbie. This wasn’t what Barbies were for. I wasn’t supposed to be panicking over body image; I was supposed to be playing with a doll that represented my ideal role model. Barbie went to the moon, was a vet, and was even a fantastic big sister. What more could you want from her?

The answer is: representation. Barbie was a cool toy for the young kids of the 1990s and 2000s, but as our generation began to age, we began to see a problem. The people my age are the ones who are unapologetically themselves. They’re fat, thin, tall, short — they’re living life however they want to and aren’t taking criticism when it’s not invited. When we looked back on all the toys we played with as children, we saw problems. For example, baby dolls forced us girls to assume we had to grow up to be housewives, whereas boys got the grill sets and the tool belts that gave them a purpose other than the family. Barbie, though, was probably the most controversial thing that any of us kids ever played with. She was the perfect height, thin, had great curves, and could do anything she wanted. She was the ideal dream woman, and we all tried to live up to her image in our actual lives. Except we couldn’t, because she was Barbie.

And that’s why it’s such a shock to see Barbie finally getting with the times. We’re so used to society telling us that the Barbie doll was the example of the perfect woman that we’re unable to see all the new body types as perfect as well. Tall, petite, and curvy girls are perfect, sure, we all know that, but society tells us otherwise. Society tells us to be thin, the right height, white, have long blonde hair, and always wear makeup. So when the postergirl of society changes, it’s a miracle. New body types mean new representation, and new representation means new appreciation. When a little girl gets her hands on a tall Barbie now, it means she won’t see tall girls as a break from the norm, but she’ll see them as beautiful. Instead of assuming a plus size girl is fat and ugly, she’ll see that full figured are just as beautiful and fantastic as the thin one society deems “perfect.” It’s not that thin blonde girls aren’t beautiful — because they are — it’s just that they’ve gotten so much representation for so long. The new Barbies bring representation of all body types to a world that has long needed it, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Just like the new curvy, petite, and tall Barbie dolls.

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