January 31, 2016


Photograph: Mattel/EPA

If you do not know by now that Mattel the makers of Barbie released a ton of new dolls this week than you have been living under a rock or just paying attention to Kanye's rants on Twitter instead. Since the release there has been quite a range of media reactions with a variety of thoughts and opinions on Barbie's new figure; so of course I needed to add my two cents. 

New Barbie is BIG DEAL because simply representation matters; women, we come in every shape and size and color and it is about time that this doll reflected that. Lets be honest attractiveness means something but when you think about it, it only means something because people place such high value on it. That's an issue for another post. But for the longest time we have only seen one kind of beauty displayed over and over again to the point where it became the norm. Some people in the plus community aren't as thrilled because there wasn't a true plus doll released; I get it but me personally I'm thrilled. I think what people have to realize is it took 50 years for Barbie's body to change, FIFTY ENTIRE YEARS! Asking for everything at once is like asking me to go from couch to Ironman in a month, Not gonna happen. What this change does do is open up an entirely new dialogue and displays a range of beauty; it is a stepping stone and that is never a bad thing. With each edition things improve and I do feel with time we will see a plus Barbie doll; among others. At the end of the day not everyone is going to be happy but being able to see something slightly closer to you represented in the mainstream is valuable and shouldn't be diminished. 

You still have hardcore feminist coming for Ms. Barbie and what she represents and I don't completely disagree. She is a staple of beauty, despite her trying to be more than that. My reply to them is why are we pretending that beauty and appearance are things that do not matter because they are. Should it matter? No, but it does and there are ways to have conversations around that. I look at it like this, at least they give more options and definition of beauty that hopefully lead to wider range of representation and conversations around the topic. Now that we are not focusing on her body, can we have discussions around her status as a cultural icon and her role in gender norms and expectations? 

I am 5'2 and fat simply put but to me those are just neutral descriptions neither positive nor negative just factual. I can be honest in saying it took me a long time to not equate fat with ugly beast of a person.  Growing up I wish I had people and images that let me know that my body was okay just the way it was. At 31 years old I finally can look myself in the mirror and see someone that is attractive. I am not ashamed to say that I think I am a beautiful plus size woman but more importantly, I know my beauty isn't the most important thing about me, there are other qualities that define me that are far more important (and to be honest, I care about those qualities far more). I wish I had these barbies as a kid,  as a teen, as a young woman maybe they would have helped me have conversations around my difference and allow me to get to a place of acceptance sooner. One thing I try to remember is that everyone is beautiful to someone and that has set me free in someways because I started standing firmly and confidentially as myself. I stopped feeling like this troll when I gained full understanding of myself as a woman, in her entirety.Beauty is arbitrary and fluid it is by no means stagnant or even universal. 

I am trying to be conscious of how I compliment my friend's daughters, I think it is so easy to be like "she is so pretty, cute, gorgeous" and at a young age we are already conditioning them to think about their looks first. As they continue to grow I try to acknowledge their achievements in school or in art or projects most importantly how they treat others because to me those things build strong character. I hope these compliments influence how they grow to see themselves as young women. I hope the new Barbie changes the way in which young girls speak to each other about their appearance now that there's more representation out there. But for now I am glad that they will have dolls that reflect the women around them, and that are displayed in a positive light.

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