Barbie, Body Positivity, Babies, And More… What Do You Think?

The Barbie movie is supposed to be satirical and tackle some of the issues the thin doll did help create in the 90's, by focusing on one body type as ideal.

It’s tough to miss the conversation and hype around Barbie if you are a Social Media native like me. I haven’t watched it yet, but the movie promises to be inclusive, fun and from a feminist POV.

When I first saw Barbie in a shop at 8 years old

The infinite reels, memes and influencer fashion around Barbie core reminded me of when I was 8 years old in the 90’s and saw a Barbie doll in a shop. I showed the doll to my father who showed me the price of the doll and furthermore the various accessories like shoes, hand bag etc which came at additional cost. He asked me to ascertain if I thought that it was a fair price to pay for small pieces of plastic.

At 8 years old I understood what he was saying but the commercials had brain washed me, so I dragged my mother to the aisle and showed her the doll. She casually remarked that the doll was overhyped and was thin like me so why would I want this doll and that I had a different doll at home already?

And now I am a parent to a 10 yr old

I used to be a thin child growing up. So the lessons I retained about Barbie was a mixture of all this. I am in retrospect glad that my middle class parents didn’t buy this ridiculously expensive doll albeit with some light body shaming.

However in 2023 thin for a grown woman is ‘good’ but for a child is still not good as per Indian society. Recently I made fun of my 10 year old and called him bony, he turned back to me and rightly called me out on it. He told me that I shouldn’t be body shaming him and schooled me on it. I as a mother was very happy to see him grow up in a time where he has the vocabulary and the confidence to understand right from wrong and not internalize it.

Barbie, body positivity, and more

The 2023 Barbie movie is supposed to be satirical and tackle some of these issues which I do think the thin doll did help create in the 90’s by focusing on one body type and putting one certain body type as ideal. The doll did later diversify into various body types but the initial model and body type of Barbie is the most recognizable and sought after.

For its time the doll however was intentioned to showcase women in settings other than as home makers or caregivers and having different interests and occupations. The creator of the Barbie doll Ruth Handler famously is said to have invented the fashion doll category with a three-dimensional doll that girls could use to imagine their future selves.

Through the generations the benchmarks for the ideal body type has changed and parenting also has undergone many changes especially in certain strata of society. This is not to say that the current generation are better parents, I am sure there are loads of things which we as society or as parents emphasize or idealise on today that tomorrow’s generation will question us on!

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About the Author

Anju Jayaram

A traveler at heart and a writer by chance a vital part of a vibrant team called Women's Web. I Head Marketing at Women's and am always evolving new ways in read more...

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